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Why Presidency Slammed Suspension on Magu, EFFC Chair

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By Orkula Shaagee, Abuja

The Presidency came down heavily on the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC),Ibrahim Magu with a suspension order yesterday, in order to preserve  the anti-corruption efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, DAILY ASSET was told.

The fight against corruption is one of the three cardinal p[rogrammes of the Buhari administration on the premise of which it came to power in 2015.

Magu who was arrested Monday by security operatives  spent a night with the Force Criminal Investigation Department(FCID) after he appeared for hours before the Presidential panel investigating corruption allegations against him.

The panel headed by former President, Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami(rtd) is investigating allegations that Magu owns property abroad and had being transferring funds illegally abroad through third parties. The allegations were brought against him by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

A presidency source, who preferred not to be named, told DAILY ASSET in Abuja on Tuesday that the probe of the anti-graft boss was a bold statement by the Buhari administration that nobody under “the present administration is above scrutiny’’.

The source said the holder of a high office such as the chairman of the EFCC must be above suspicion, hence the decision of President Buhari to approve investigation of Magu.

He however cautioned against hasty conclusions adding the President was determined to be fair to all parties in the matter.

 “The panel investigating allegations against the Acting EFCC Chairman had been sitting for some weeks now.

“In consonance with the principle of fairness and justice, it was needful that the Acting Chairman be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations, which are weighty in nature.

“Under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, nobody is above scrutiny. The investigation is to reinforce transparency and accountability, rather than to vitiate it.

“Accountability for our actions or inactions is an inalienable part of democracy. In such an elevated position as that of EFCC Chairman, the holder of the position must be above suspicion.

“There’s no prejudgment — absolutely none. The Buhari administration can be counted on to uphold fairness and justice at all times,” the source explained.

Magu had been in the eye of the storm for weeks since the AGF wrote the President a memo in which he catalogued infractions by the EFCC boss.

Among others Magu was accused of corrupt handling of recovered assets from persons under investigation. He was also alleged to have travelled to Dubai during the lockdown without permission and for owning four houses abroad.

Malami had even recommended three names for possible replacement of Magu in his memo, which was leaked to the press.

Opinion was sharply divided yesterday, over the the on-going investigation of the EFCC especially the manner of his “invitation” by the panel, which took the form of an arrest by plain clothes security operatives suspected to be officials of the Department of State Services(DSS).

The DSS however, denied involvement in the arrest saga raising suspicion that operatives from the FCID may have carried out the operation.

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Wike Gives Ultimatum to Illegal Land Owners in FCT Communities

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

Minister Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Nyesom Wike on Monday gave ultimatum to illegal settlers in Chika Aleita Abuja Science and Technological Village to leave.

Wike stated this during an inspection tour of the technology village in company of his counterpart in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Uche Godfrey Nnaji, in Abuja.

Issuing the order, Wike said the fast encroachment was aided by inability of the past administration to take action and stop individuals from building illegally despite the payment of compensation.

He noted that the money expended in providing infrastructure to the village will not be a waste.

“I will give Development Control a go ahead to demolish because I heard they have been compensated since 2018.

“We want to take over the place so that infrastructure can come in. It will even attract investors. I can tell you that they have been compensated.

“No amount of propaganda can stop us from doing the right thing,” The FCT Minister said. .

Earlier, the Minister of Science and Technology, informed Wike that leaving illegal settlers that have encroached the buffer of the village constitutes a big risk and loss to the country’s investment drive to the village that is a the replica of London technology village.

He said the government of Great Britain was able to generate 6 billion pounds in six years.

Nnaji noted that the country stands the chance of making more if right environment is put in place.

The Abuja technology village was the creation of Federal Government during the return of democracy to the country.It is a Free Trade Zone expected to incubate science and technology but subsequent administrations failed to execute the project.

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Naira Falls to N2,000/£1 at Parallel Market

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The naira is currently trading at over N2,000 against the British pound  sterling in the parallel market.

Malam Ibrahim, a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator in Wuse Zone 4 in Abuja confirmed the price of the local currency on Monday.

According to the news report, the new rate is higher than the N1,930 reported on Saturday and is currently the lowest point in the naira’s historical performance.

In the parallel FX market, where the naira is unofficially trading at N1,673 from N1,670/$ on Friday, the naira also lost value in relation to the dollar.

Confirming the development, Ibrahim said, “Yes it is true, we are currently selling above N2,000 for the pounds and it is still about the heavy and consistent demand for these currencies.

The statement by the CBN to stop foreign oil companies operating in Nigeria from instantly sending 100 percent of their foreign exchange earnings to their parent businesses overseas was one of the most recent measures.

Experts in the market credit the latest drop to a sustained increase in demand for US dollars that has been visible since January 1, 2024.

The main causes of this increased demand include a sizeable amount that is attributable to companies actively attempting to replenish inventory or get raw materials, which raises the need for foreign exchange.

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Manufacturers Reduce Cement Price to N8,000

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By David Torough, Abuja

Cement manufacturers have said a sharp rise in their operating costs is responsible for the increase in the price of the commodity.

They agreed to bring down the price between N9,000 and N15,000 to between N7,000 and N8,000 per 50kg depending on the location nationwide.

It said that prices could be N7,000 in some parts of the country owing to closeness to the supply of the product.

This was part of the agreement between the Federal Government and the cement manufacturers as well as its association.

The Minister of Works, David Umahi led the meeting which had the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite in attendance, saying they would intervene on issues of gas and bad roads among other issues affecting the rising price of the critical material in the construction sector.

The cement manufacturers including Dangote Cement Plc, BUA Cement Plc and Larfarge Cement Plc and other stakeholders issued a communique after meeting with the ministers.

Umahi said smuggling, bad roads, high energy costs, and the forex crisis caused the high price but stressed that manufacturers had expressed their readiness to bring down the prices in the future.

He said, “The cement manufacturers have noted to the government that the present high cost of cement in the market is very much abnormal in some locations nationwide.

“Ideally, they noted that cement price, and retail price to a consumer should not cost more than between N7,000 and N8,000 per 50kg bag.

“Therefore, the government and the cement manufacturers, which are Dangote Plc, BUA Plc, and Lafarge Plc have agreed to have their cement price nationwide between N7,000 and N8,000 per 50kg pack of cement, depending on the location which means that this price depends on the locations. 

“Going forward, the government has advised manufacturers to set up a price monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance with the prices that are set today.”

The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment lamented the high rate of smuggling to the neighbouring countries.

She noted, this was responsible for the scarcity and hike in the price of the produce and assured that the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu is committed to tackling the menace.

Uzoka-Anite said, “The amount we recommended is N7000 to N8000 but we have other factors. This is the first time that manufacturers are saying they will go and manage compliance in this distribution network.

“We have issues of smuggling not just for cement, but even food across the borders and this has led to scarcity. We have engaged with the NSA who has committed to tackling this. We’ll hear from the NSA soon on this’’.

The manufacturers expressed readiness to bring down the price as soon as the Federal Government interventions are fulfilled.

The Executive Director, BUA Group, Kabir Rabiu admitted that the high cost of cement in neighboring countries made smuggling lucrative, saying that the cost of cement in Chad and Cameron is about N15,000 in the countries’ monetary value.

Rabiu assured that his company would bring in 6 million tonnes of cement into the market to crash the price.

He said, “The high cost of cement in neighboring countries is making smuggling lucrative.

“The cost of cement in Chad and Cameron is about N15,000 equivalent there, and distributors in the North East instead smuggle products there.

“They do that not through official channels and the government is not benefiting from their export. Unless that is sorted, we’ll continue to have pressure from those markets.

“We have promised the minister that we are going to bring in 6m tonnes of cement into the market and that is going to crash the price. There is a big disparity between demand and supply in Nigeria. I think some plants have issues that have reduced production.

“We are at the peak of cement demand but supply seems less so there is going to be a crisis and that is why we are working hard to bring more products to the market to reduce the pressure of demand and supply in the market.”Government expects the agreed price to drop after securing government’s interventions on the challenges of the manufacturers on gas, import duty, smuggling, and better road network.

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