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Economy

SIM registration update: Nigerians get two weeks deadline to submit their national identification numbers

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The Federal Government has said that any telecoms subscriber who fails to submit his/her National Identity Number (NIN) to its network provider would be blocked from the network from December 31.

This is just as the government reaffirmed its position on suspension of new SIM card registration across the country.

This was part of the decisions reached at a stakeholders meeting convened by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.

This is contained in a statement signed and issued by the Director, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Ikechukwu Adinde.

At the meeting, the need to consolidate the achievements of last year’s SIM registration audit and improve the performance and sanity of the sector was discussed and all stakeholders agreed that urgent measures have now become inevitable to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process.

The statement said the decisions taken for immediate implementation by all network operators include “affirmation of the earlier directive to totally suspend the registration of new SIMs by all operators.

“Operators to require all their subscribers to provide valid National Identification Number (NIN) to update SIM registration records.

Isa Ali Pantami
Communications Minister

“​The submission of NIN by subscribers to take place within two weeks (from today December 16, 2020, and end by 30 December 2020).

“After the deadline, all SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks.

“A Ministerial Task Force comprising the minister and all the CEOs (among others) as members is to monitor compliance by all networks.

“Violations of this directive will be met by sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.”

The meeting had in attendance the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Management of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), as well as the CEOs and management staff of all service providers in the industry.

The statement, however, charged the general public to ensure that their NINs are captured in their SIM registration data.

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Economy

NPA : Panel Clears Hadiza Bala Usman of Fraud

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Hadiza Bala Usman, the former managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has been cleared of allegations of failing to remit N165 billion operating surplus to the coffers of the federal government, according to a report by TheCable.

However, the 11-member committee set up by the ministry of transportation to probe the alleged fraud decided to shift its attention to allegations of insubordination to Rotimi Amaechi, the minister.

She was accused of ignoring ministerial directives and communicating directly with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Usman was originally suspended in May 2021 by the minister over an allegedly missing N165 billion but the committee did not find any evidence in its account reconciliation.

TheCable understands that when Amaechi presented the report to Buhari and asked for permission to remove Usman based on to “insubordination”, the president refused to give approval but instead directed the minister to issue a query to the former NPA MD.

Amaechi, presidency sources told TheCable, said Usman had already defended herself before the committee, but Buhari insisted that she be allowed to respond to the report before any further action is taken.

“A visibly disappointed Amaechi then directed Magdalene Ajani, the permanent secretary, to issue the query,” the source said, adding that Buhari refused to be presented with a “fait accompli”.

Conspicuously missing in the 10 items of query is the original reason for her suspension — the allegation that N165 billion was not remitted to the treasure single account (TSA) which made the headlines.

QUERY AND REPLY

An official of the ministry of transportation, who spoke to TheCable but pleaded to be “shielded” for fear of victimisation, said Usman responded to the query within one week as stipulated.

“She said that she did not have access to some important documents because she was on suspension but I would say she did justice to the query,” the official said.

Mohammed Bello-Koko, who acted as NPA MD during her suspension, was a bank’s accounts officer to the Rivers states government when Amaechi was governor.

Bello-Koko was on Tuesday officially appointed the MD.

In the query dated January 26, 2022, Ajani said the committee accused Usman of the following acts of insubordination.

  • Disregard for ministerial directive in respect of the Bonny/Port Harcourt and Lagos port channel management contract
  • Unlawful procurement of the operation of truck transit park for port bound trucks (e-callup) with the non-payment into TSA
  • Unilateral execution of a supplemental agreement in respect of the Lekki Deep Seaport concession project
  • Breach of the channels of the communication in the public service
  • Unilateral and improper use of the emergency procurement mode to procure vehicles
  • Waiver, rebates and tariffs granted by NPA without requisite approval
  • disobedience of court order in respect of pilotage contract between NPA and Intels
  • Disregard of court order in the matter between NPA and BUA ports and terminal limited in respect of the concession of Terminal B Rivers ports complex.
  • Breach of presidential/ministerial directive in the matter of the LADOL/Samsung dispute
  • Lease of Koko Port to Messers Creek Shore Jetty and Terminal Ltd

In her response, she denied all the allegations.

On the renewal of the Bonny/Port Harcourt and Lagos port channel management contract for which she was said to have disregarded ministerial directive, she said she conveyed the directive to the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) which it clarified that it was an extension of an existing contract and such extensions do not require the attention of either the ministerial tenders board or the federal executive council.

Usman said, with regards to the operations of the e-callup system, that “it is practically impossible to have the e-Wallet account domiciled with the TSA as the amount standing to the credit of the transporters’ wallets still belong to the customers. In addition, the owners of the satellite parks and pre-gates used for gating trucks before their callup into the ports need to be paid weekly from the wallet account based on how many bookings were made for their parks”.

She denied unilaterally executing a supplemental agreement in respect of the Lekki Deep Seaport concession project, stating that it was operational in nature and does not alter any major aspect of the concession agreement “as it only rescheduled construction timeframe for a berth and allowed other players to partake in the development of dry bulk since the company was constrained to embark on the construction”.

The former NPA MD said presidency communicated directly with her seeking information and clarifications on the activities of the authority and she responded and she was not at any informed that her responses should have gone through the ministry since presidency did not communicate with her through the ministry.

Usman denied “unilateral and improper use of the emergency procurement” to procure vehicles to replace the ones burnt by the End SARS rioters, quoting public procurement laws to back her decision and pointing out that NPA got a provisional “no objection” certificate for the purchases.

She insisted that she did not disobey court orders on Intels and BUA, and that no presidential or ministerial directive was breached in the LADOL/Samsung dispute.

On the lease of Koko Port to Messrs Creek Shore Jetty and Terminal Ltd, she said she acted the legal limits of NPA as provided by the enabling laws.

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Economy

CBN Issues Guidelines to Reduce the Spate of Bad Loans Within the Banking Sector

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the issuance of a Global Standing Instruction (GSI) for checking the Incidence of bad loans within the banking sector.

The GSI is a policy that allows banks to debit the accounts of loan holders in other banks to settle defaults.

According to a statement by Chibuzo Efobi, for the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department of the apex bank, the initiative was conceived to address recurring instances of willful loan default in the industry.

Efobi said that the guidelines would enhance the establishment of a “watch list” and identify recalcitrant loan defaulters and enhance loan recovery from all eligible and funded accounts in the industry.

He added that it would also improve credit payment culture and reduce non-performing loans in the Nigerian banking system.

“Consequently, please be informed that the frequency of recovery attempts via the GSI platform has been amended from specific number to continuous and unrestricted number,’’ he said.

He said that the GSI automated loan recovery feature applicable to all loans in the industry shall remain perpetually in place throughout the life of the loan, or  until it is fully repaid.

He urged members of the banking public to check the CBN website, www.cbn.gov.ng for perusal of the guidelines.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the GSI initiative was approved by the Bankers’ Committee at its meeting in February, 2020.

The CBN, thereafter, collaborated with relevant stakeholders to develop necessary protocols to facilitate implementation of the GSI, for eligible loans granted with effect from Aug. 28, 2019. (NAN)

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Economy

FIRS To Continue VAT Collection Until…says Malami

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The federal government has said that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) will continue to collect Value Added Tax (VAT) following the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the matter.

The attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, stated this in New York, United States while speaking on the disagreement over the collection of VAT between FIRS and the government of Rivers State.

Malami, according to NAN explained that the ruling of the Court of Appeal that FIRS and the Rivers State government maintain status quo, favoured FIRS.

He said it was FIRS that had been collecting the VAT before the dispute arose, over which the Rivers government approached the High Court.

“The position of not only the Federal Government but indeed the judiciary is the fact that status quo associated with the collecting of VAT should be maintained.

“And as far as the judicial system is concerned, the status quo as at the time the parties approached the court, it was the Federal Inland Revenue Service that was indeed collecting the value-added tax.

“So with that in mind, the Federal Government has succeeded in obtaining an order that establishes the sustenance of the status quo, which status quo is that the Federal Inland Revenue Service should continue collection.

“This is pending the determination of the cases that were instituted by states, particularly the Rivers State Government and the Lagos State government. The cases are being determined by the court.”

Recall that the government of Rivers State had urged the Supreme Court to set aside the September 10 ruling of the Court of Appeal ordering it and FIRS to maintain status quo on the issue of VAT collection.

A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal headed by Haruna Tsammani, issued the order being challenged at the Supreme Court by the Rivers government.

The state also urged the apex court to disband the panel of the appellate court, which gave the interim order and ordered another one to be constituted to hear the case.

“But one thing of interest is the fact that the federal government had indeed taken cognisance of the fact that where there exist a dispute between a state and federal government it is the Supreme Court that should naturally have the jurisdiction to determine the dispute between the state and the federation.

“And we are taking steps to consider the possibility of instituting an action before the Supreme Court for the purpose of having this matter determined once and for all,”  Malami said.

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