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CBN, 14 banks react to N1bn Imo judgement debt

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CBN, 14 banks react to N1bn Imo judgement debt

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and 14 other banks out of the 17 ordered by an FCT High Court to show cause why plea for garnishee of accounts operated by Imo Government should not be made absolute, had denied overseeing the state’s accounts.

The denials were contained in the respondents briefs filed by the concerned banks and made available to newsmen on Sunday in Abuja, by Mr Anthony Agbonlahor, Counsel for the Judgment Creditors.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a garnishee order is a common form of enforcing a judgment debt against a debtor to recover money.

The court enforces the payment of such debt through a third party who holds funds belonging to the judgment debtor.

The judgment creditors, E.F. Network Nig Ltd and Mr Gideon Egbuchulam on April 17 approached the court with an exparte motion praying it to compel 17 banks allegedly overseeing Imo government accounts to effect the payment.

Justice Bello Kawu, went ahead to grant the prayer by directing the listed banks to show caused why the order should not made absolute.

The banks were: Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Jaiz Bank, Union Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa (UBA), First Bank Plc, Ecobank Plc, Keystone Bank Plc, and Diamond Bank Plc.

The rest were: Fidelity Bank Plc, Polaris Bank Plc, GTBank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Plc, and FCMB Bank Plc.

The Supreme Court had on March affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal Owerri which ordered the state defendants to pay the N1 billion contract debt owed the judgment creditors.

The apex court held that the appeal filed by the Imo state government and Gov. Rochas Okorocha challenging the judgment of the lower court was not meritorious.

However, going by the respondents brief filed by the 17 banks, 14 of them denied overseeing any Imo government accounts.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it was not in the position to effect the order of the court since it only had only administrative supervisory powers over banks.

Mr Ahmed Abdullahi, Counsel for the CBN in this respondent brief said that the apex bank did not maintain accounts in the name of the judgment debtor.

He further said the bank had such powers to track funds due to the state government in the consolidate revenue fund of Imo state. Abdullahi also argued that the bank did not part take in the actual sharing of funds to state from the Federation Account.

He further said the CBN as a public officer required the consent of the Attorney-General of the Federation to act on legal matters, adding that processes served on the bank did indicate consent was sought.

Abdullahi therefore, prayed the court to vacate the order and discharge the bank in the interest of justice.

However, the respondent’s brief filed by the Zenith Bank Plc indicated the state government maintained an account with it, but that the account was used to obtain N10 billion loan from the bank 2016 and spread across 240 months.

Similarly, Access Bank Nig, Plc in its response, agreed to oversee a number of the judgment debtor’s account but that the balances in those account abysmally negligible, adding that they were no recent transactions on the accounts.

Agbonlahor, while speaking on the responses filed by the Access bank, said the bank’s testimony was incorrect.

“Access Bank today filed a return denying the existence of the account numbers we had tracked belonged to the judgment debtors.

“This denial goes contrary to the letter of the prayers that contained specific account numbers maintained by the judgment debtors with the bank.

“The act of concealing of existing accounts on the part of the bank is a despicable action capable of making it incur liabilities of the judgment debtors.

“We have evidence that one of the account numbers we mentioned had been used to pay salaries of workers in Imo state last month through the intervention of the EFCC.

“It is therefore an embarrassment to the bank for it to deny the existence of any accounts belonging to Imo state government.

“Whether this will be the beginning of charges bordering on perjury against the deponent, only time will tell,’’ Agbonlahor said.

However, Chief M.O Nlemedim (SAN), Imo State, Attorney-General filed a Motion on Notice seeking the termination of the garnishee proceedings for want of competence.

He is asking the court for an order restraining the judgment creditors, agents, representatives or the garnishee banks from relying on the said garnishee order pending the determination of the motion.

The state is also seeking the setting aside of the garnishee order made April 17 in a motion mark: FCT/HC/5309/2019, for allegedly being an abuse of court process.

NAN reports that the other judgment debtors include the Environmental Transformation Committee (Imo Entraco) and The Ministry of Environment.

Justice Bello Kawu has fixed June 25 for continuation of hearing on the matter.

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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NATIONAL NEWS

CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

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CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.

“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?

“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.

“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.

“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”

Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.

“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.

“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike

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Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.

Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.

The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.

Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.

Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).

The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”

On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.

The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.

“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.

The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”

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