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CBN wants shell banks abolished in Nigeria

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…seeks more powers to revoke banks’ licences

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has called for the abolition of shell banks in the country, saying they serve as institutions of money laundering.
Shell banks are institutions that carry out activities where they are not licensed.
CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, made the request yesterday at the public hearing organised by the House Committee on Banking and Currency on a bill to amend the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) and other bills in Abuja.
He said the shell banks, apart from being used for money laundering, distort the banking system and pose a problem to regulatory agencies.
Emefiele, represented by the Director, Legal Services Department, Mr. Johnson Akinwunmi, said: “We wish to propose the introduction of new subsections 3(6) and (7) for the proscription of shell banks in response to the latest recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering to read:
“Any bank or its subsidiaries without physical presence in the country where it is incorporated and licensed and is not affiliated to any financial services group that is subject to effective consolidated supervision, shall not be allowed to operate in Nigeria and no Nigerian bank orbits subsidiaries shall establish or continue any relationship with such bank or subsidiary.”
Similarly, the CBN is also seeking additional powers to revoke licences of banks and “power to inject funds into a failing bank by way of equity participation up to a level that guarantees control by CBN.”
The additional powers, according to the director, is to enable the CBN acquire equity investment institutions and its ability to ensure a sound financial system.
The proposal read: “Without prejudice to the provisions of subsection 2 of this section, and notwithstanding the provisions of section 34 of the CBN Act or anything written law or any limitations contained in the memorandum and articles of association of any bank, the bank shall have power, at any time, to acquire the shares of any bank up to a level that guarantees its control by the bank and management of the bank.
“Provided that the bank shall dispose of such equity investment in the bank when it is satisfied that the state of affairs of the bank concerned has improved.”
The CBN also backed the House of Representatives in imposing stiffer penalties and terms of imprisonment of certain offences on erring commercial banks and their staff.
But in his presentation, the Director of Legal/Board Secretary, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Mr. Belema Taribo, opposed the proposed fines, saying they were too high.
“The NDIC, as a deposit insurer, supports the passage of the bill into law as the current fine of N1,000 does not meet contemporary realities. However, it is our submission that the proposed penalty of N200,000 is above N100,000 per cent increment from the current penalty. In view of the above, we propose a fine of N5,000.”
On the issuance of licence, NDIC proposed that the CBN should seek its consent before granting any application for banking licence.
“This is to enable the corporation have a prior evaluation of the applicants with regard to insurance of deposits,” Taribo said.
Chairman of the House committee, Hon. Jones Onyereri, said the increase in penalties to the bank operators would streamline the operations of such banks to conform to international best practices.
He informed that the proposed amendments to the BOFIA Act 2017 were initiated by three lawmakers viz: Hon. Daniel Reyeneiju (PDP, Delta), Hon. Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers) and Hon. Jones Onyeriri (PDP, Imo).
Some of the penalties in the 70 proposed amendments to the BOFIA Act 2017 include: a fine of N20 million on banks that fail to comply with the conditions of the licence; a fine of N20 million on any director that fails to declare any property he/she owns that runs contrary to the Act; a fine of N10 million against a director or manager that fails to keep a book of account and a fine of N2 million on banks that fail to publish its annual report of its general meeting in two reputable national dailies, among others.
While declaring the public hearing open, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said the House opted for stiffer penalties of millions of naira as fine for commercial banks which engage in illegal deduction of spurious charges on customers’ accounts domiciled in such banks.
Dogara, who was represented by the House Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, said that bank customers have not stopped complaining of spurious charges on their accounts.

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Health

National hospital receives 2nd cancer treatment machine

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The National Hospital, has taken delivery of the second Radiotherapy machine for Cancer treatment,  in Abuja on Monday. The Elekta machine for Linear Accelerator (LINAC) is made up of several components to be coupled and installed soon.

Speaking in a brief interview at the hospital, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), National Hospital, Dr. Jeff Momoh, said the Abuja Radiotherapy centre would be the only centre in West Africa running two Linear accelerators at the same time. This, the CMD explained, was to avoid running down the 1st machine which has currently treated over 200 patients.

Describing the arrival of the 2nd machine as a major breakthrough for the country, the CMD said its installation would further check medical tourism as patients who travelled abroad for cancer treatment would return home to receive treatment at the centre.

In his words, “A cancer patient has returned from India for treatment at the centre and we will soon see patients from other sub-regions receiving cancer treatment in the hospital because with the state of the art equipment available, it will be the best Cancer treatment centre in West Africa”

Commending the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, for seeing to the delivery of the machine, Dr. Momoh informed that the procurement of the second machine was made possible by the unflinching commitment of the minister who had earlier made a pledge to the hospital in that regards.

According to Momoh, similar machines would soon be installed in each of the six geopolitical zones in the country.

On the maintenance and optimum functionality of the Cancer machine, the CMD said the Hospital has fully trained the First set of Nigerians on the maintenance and supervision of the Linear Accelerator under the supervision of Engr. Ikede John, a Deputy Director in the National Hospital, Abuja, to ensure its proper use.

To ensure safe delivery of the machine was, the representative of its manufacturer, JNC International Ltd, Engr. Wale Akinola.

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Health

UNICEF says world is failing newborn babies

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Global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly among the world’s poorest countries, UNICEF said today in a new report on newborn mortality.

Every year, 2.6 million newborns around the world do not survive their first month of life. One million of them die the day they are born.

Globally, in low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births, the report said. In high-income countries, that rate is three deaths per 1,000.

“While we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old,” said Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director.

“Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly, we are failing the world’s poorest babies.”

The report notes that eight of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions. With the newborn mortality rate of 29 deaths per 1,000 births, the global estimates rank Nigeria as the 11th highest on newborn deaths.

In the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/17, the rate of newborn deaths per 1000 births is 37. This national average hides the differences between the 36 states and the slow progress in some of them.

“A fair chance in life begins with a strong, healthy start. Unfortunately, many children in Nigeria are still deprived of this,” said Mohamed M Fall, UNICEF Nigeria’s Representative. “MICS data tells us that the trend is improving but urgent action needs to be taken for Nigeria to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It cannot afford to fail its newborns today.”

More than 80 per cent of newborn deaths are due to prematurity, asphyxia, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis.

These deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives during antenatal and postnatal visits as well as delivery at a health facility, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact, proper cord care, and good nutrition.

 However, a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands don’t receive the life-saving support they need to survive.

This month, UNICEF is launching Every Child ALIVE, a global campaign to demand and deliver solutions on behalf of the world’s newborns. Through the campaign, UNICEF is issuing an urgent appeal to governments, health care providers, donors, the private sector, families and businesses to keep every child alive by:

Recruiting, training, retaining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with expertise in maternal and newborn care;

Guaranteeing clean, functional health facilities equipped with water, soap and electricity, within the reach of every mother and baby;

Making it a priority to provide every mother and baby with the life-saving drugs and equipment needed for a healthy start in life; and

Empowering adolescent girls, mothers and families to demand and receive quality care.

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Buhari must order the arrest of Ango Abdullahi over his Fulani herdsmen comment – Deji Adeyanju

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A pro-democracy and good governance group, Concerned Nigerians, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate arrest of Professor Ango Abdullahi, a former vice-chancellor, over his recent comment on herdsmen that sparked outrage and drew condemnation, especially from the Southern leaders.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday Vanguard last week, Prof. Abdullahi had said that the kidnap of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Chief Olu Falae, was nothing extraordinary, even as he accused Southern leaders of a covert plot to split the unity of the north.

Adeyanju However, in a statement issued by its Convener, Deji Adeyanju on Tuesday, the group said it was surprised and disappointed in what it described as Professor Abdullahi’s brazen justification of the wanton killings of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen.

It said the Department of states Services, DSS, should invite the professor for questioning, maintaining that Abdullahi’s statement was hate speech capable of shattering the unity of the country.

According to the statement, “We have read Prof Ango Abdullahi’s alarming interview with the Vanguard Newspaper and are appalled that someone of his age, stature, education and professional qualification would provide brazen justification for the wanton and senseless murders of thousands of Nigerians by herdsmen.

“In his interview, Prof Abdullahi likened the killings of Nigerians by Fulani Herdsmen to a politically motivated ruse by “… the South…” to destroy the political unity of the North. He also made several other comments that are too incendiary to repeat here. “It is distressing that there are people who continue to politicise these senseless killings and who continually provide justification, and nuance, for them.

“It is also distressing that the political elite in the parts of the country continue to refer to colonial era grazing routes that involved the forceful acquisition and ceding of the ancestral homes and lands of the Nigerians in parts of the country, to cattle herders for use as grazing routes and continue to use such colonial-era machinations as justification for the disregard and disrespect for the constitution and laws of an independent Federal Republic of Nigeria and the human rights of her citizens.

“Shielding this brazen disregard for the property rights of whole peoples in intellectual garb is dangerous and provides a distressing setting for continued killings.

“In fact, Prof Abdullahi’s condemnable comments indicate more than just a passing knowledge of the killings, its organizers and what their objectives are. They indeed indicate a deep-rooted knowledge of these unfortunate events.

“We call on the Directorate of State Security (DSS) to invite Prof Abdullahi to reveal the extent of his knowledge behind the rationale for the killings. This is in keeping with similar invitations extended to others by the DSS to explain comments perceived by the DSS to be hate speech. “You will recall that the DSS even invited the spokesperson to a former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida, for issuing a statement on behalf of his boss. “

Anything less will prove the fear expressed by many people across the country that there is institutional support for herdsmen to be true,” the statement concluded.

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