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Saturday, 11 January 2020
Saturday, 11 January 2020 16:48

Roadside bomb hits US Army vehicle

US Army vehicle in southern Afghanistan has been hit a Taliban roadside bomb, officials reported on Saturday with no immediate details of casualties.

Provincial police spokesman Jamal Nasir Barkzai told News men that the incident occurred in Dand district of southern Kandahar.

“Foreign forces were patrolling near the Kandahar airport when they were hit by a blast. We don’t have the details of the casualties because they have cordoned off the area,” he said.

A NATO Resolute Support spokesman in southern Afghanistan confirmed the incident and said the situation was being assessed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid saying on Twitter that the blast destroyed the vehicle, killing all on board.

Violence in Afghanistan usually recedes as the cold winter sets in but this year the Taliban have pushed forward with their operations despite heavy snowfall in the mountains — and despite their negotiations with the US for a deal that would see American troops leave the country.

According to parts of the deal made public so far, the Pentagon would pull about 5,000 of its 13,000 or so troops from five bases across Afghanistan, provided the Taliban sticks to its security pledges.

The insurgents have said they will renounce Al-Qaeda, fight the Islamic State group and stop jihadists using Afghanistan as a safe haven.

Last year was the deadliest for US forces in Afghanistan since combat operations officially finished at the end of 2014, highlighting the challenging security situation that persists.

More than 2,400 US troops have been killed in combat in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in October 2001.

(NAN/AFP)

Published in World

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said that it hoped to see more cargoes moving down to the Eastern ports this year.

The General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications of NPA, Mr Adams Jatto, disclosed this in Lagos on Saturday.

According to him, due to the border closure, the Lagos ports witnessed tremendous influx of cargoes which led to its congestion.

He added that the authority was still making more efforts to ensure that it coped with the volume of cargoes coming in, adding that the terminal operators, the handlers, were doing very well in decongesting the port.

“We are aware that we have overtime cargoes in the port due to delays, but efforts are being made by Customs and stakeholders to ensure these cargoes are evacuated to make way for accommodating more cargoes.

“Efforts are also being made to make the Eastern ports more viable because from what we have been seeing due to the border closure, more cargoes are now moving to the East and we hope to see more of that this year.

“Moving these cargoes to the Eastern port is a good thing because it is observed that most of the cargoes that are Lagos bound, most of these consignment are meant for the East.

“We cannot force people to take their cargo from one place to the other, it is the owner of the cargo that determines where the cargo will go.

“So, cargoes meant for the East should be taken to the Eastern port to ease means of their doing business,” he said.

Jatto pointed that there were issues as regards the Eastern ports which NPA was looking into.

He said Onne Port, in Rivers had bad road and the means of evacuating cargo from the port is 90 per cent through the road network.

He noted that the NPA management was talking with agencies involved such as the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta.

According to him, the agencies are the ones who did the road from Port Harcourt to Onne.

Jatto said that there were assurances that the road would be repaired as soon as possible.

He stated that the Authority believed that by the time the road was repaired there would be ease of moving cargo from Onne to places such as Onitsha and Aba.

On the use of badges on the waterways, he said the main focus this year was the licensing of operators to ensure that the job was effectively done and measures put to ensure the best operators were licenced.

Jatto said that NPA was concerned about carrying out the responsibility of inspection before permit was issued to operators.

He, however, observed that badge operations were important in terms of cargo movement.

Jatto said that the ultimate goal for NPA was to have an electronic call-up system and parks for the truck to help reduce congestion on the road and ports.

“The port managers are doing their best in the circumstances that we are, the ultimate goal is for us to have the electronic call ups.

“What we have now is being done manually and we expect that this kind of hiccup will be there.

“What we want to do is to ensure we have parks outside the port area, outside Lagos, and the NPA management is discussing with the Ogun and Lagos State governments to ensure we have a park for these trucks.

“We are not looking at the short term solutions but equally on the long term,” he said.

He urged stakeholders to keep hope alive as the Authority was doing things in 2020 to ensure there was free flow of traffic in the port to enhance ease of doing business.

He also urged those in the East to be rest assured that machinery were being put in place to ensure that the Port Harcourt port was reactivated.

He said that the Authority had commenced the procurement process to make the port more viable and revived adding that procurement of tug boats and security boats were in motion to help tackle security issues.

Published in Business

Ecobank Nigeria has announced an Agriculture Businesses Finance Scheme where it plans to disburse additional loan of N70 billion for practitioners in different value chains of Agriculture within the next two years.

This announcement is coming just as the bank is set to organise Nigeria’s Biggest Agribusiness And Food Summit in February 2020. The Agribusiness summit is part of its determination to further showcase the potentials in the agricultural sector of the nation’s economy in partnership with Vanguard newspapers, The Economic Forum Series and Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG).

The summit with the theme: “Unlocking productivity and investment opportunities across the Agribusiness value chain,” is scheduled for February 13, 2020 at the Grand Banquet Hall, Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Head, Agribusiness, Ecobank Nigeria, Mojisola Oguntoyinbo, said the summit is part of the bank’s continuous contribution to the growth and development of the agriculture sector of the nation’s economy. According to her, a pool of notable thought leaders and industry experts have been assembled to address key and current issues in the agricultural space as it relates to current economic developments and participants will also be given the opportunity to exhibit their products and services within the agriculture value chain.

“This maiden edition of the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit is to stimulate discussions, examine critically the opportunities with the intent of unlocking the growth potentials in the entire value chain of the agric sector. The full day event will include keynote speakers, panel discussion sessions and exhibition of Agro and Agro-allied products where marketplace experience will be created for buyers and sellers to interact and make sales. Between 400 to 450 companies, regulators and other stake holders in Agric-business are expected to attend and participate at the event. This will create opportunity for networking among the industry players,” she noted.

Further, Oguntoyibo noted that the Summit would among other things examine the potential impact of agriculture technology investment in fixing low productivity in Nigeria’s food production; how government policy, laws and regulatory framework can drive effective public private partnership; evaluate existing traditional agriculture finance models in Nigeria and the role and impact of technology enabled commodity exchange trading across the agriculture value chain, and the role of developmental partners and international agencies in driving funding and investments across the agriculture value chain.

Jude Ndu Co-Founder, the Economic Forum Series and Director, Vanguard Conferences says “we are delighted to be partnering with Ecobank Nigeria on the conceptualisation, strategy and execution of this high profile event in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agriculture policy and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the federal Government. As a media organisation, this is our own way of contributing to the growth prospect of the sector through audience engagement by bringing together critical stakeholders to discuss solutions to the issues of low productivity and investment opportunities across Nigeria’s agricultural value chain.”

Notable participants at the summit include the Honourable Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Sabo Nanono as Special Guest of Honour, Dr Andrew S Nevin, Chief Economist and Partner, Financial Services Sector, PwC as Keynote Speaker. Other speakers and Panelists are Patrick Akinwuntan MD/CEO Ecobank Nigeria, Abdulhameed Aliyu MD/CEO NIRSAL, Mr Emmanuel Ijewere Vice President Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Ayodeji Balogun, Country CEO AFEX Commodities Exchange among others.

Published in Bank & Finance

The Federal Government on Friday inaugurated a multi-million naira laboratory in Port Harcourt to detect and analyse samples of oil spillage in the country.

The Minister of State for Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, disclosed this while also inaugurating the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) office building in Port Harcourt.

NOSDRA is a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Environment.

She said the Federal Government was worried by the activities of oil thieves that had contributed largely to crude oil spillages in the Niger Delta.

“We are sad that majority of the oil spills that occur almost on a daily basis are caused by artisanal refining, pipeline vandalism, oil theft and illegal bunkering.

“The devastating impacts of oil spills on the environment, health and livelihoods of our rural and urban communities have led to land degradation, air and water pollution.

“Similarly, it led to deaths, destruction of habitats, loss of biodiversity, the incidence of diseases, as well as depletion of our national revenue base,” he said.

The minister said that the National Economic Council had recently noted with concern that the country lost about 22 million barrels of crude between January and June 2019.

According to her, the illegal and inhuman practices must be stopped if the country wished to develop and progress as a nation.

“To this end, the Federal Government decided to put up a standard National Oil Spill Reference Laboratory to cater for local needs in spill management.

“I implore NOSDRA to ensure that standards are kept and maintained in line with international best practices so as to make the facility the pride of the nation

“The Federal Ministry of Environment will pay attention to NOSDRA to ensure it acquires the necessary tools to carry out its mandate in the petroleum sector,” she said.

Mr Idris Musa, Director General of NOSDRA, said with the completion of the facility, NOSDRA was now in a better position to respond to environmental challenges in the petroleum sector.

He said the laboratory was made up of four units, including, analytical chemistry, wet chemistry; microbiology and toxicology units.

“The assemblage of the state-of-the-art equipment for petroleum hydrocarbon sampling and analysis in the laboratory is revolutionary,” he said.

Also speaking, Rivers Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Banigo, urged the Federal Government to speedily implement fully its policy on modular refineries.

“The establishment of modular refineries will help reduce pollution to the environment. We want the Federal Government to take seriously its promise to implement this policy.

“We also want the International Oil Companies as well as the Nigerian Oil Companies to set up a Remote Sensing Command Centre to receive an immediate signal of an oil spill,” she said.

Published in World
Saturday, 11 January 2020 14:16

Nigeria withdraws $2b tax claim

The Johannesburg-listed shares of MTN Group rose more than 5% on Friday after the announcement that Nigeria’s Attorney General and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami has withdrawn a $2billion tax demand.

It opened at 7,901 ZAC and closed at 8367, a jump of 5.30 per cent.

On the Lagos bourse, the announcement did not make any major impact as the stock closed at N116, the same price as on Thursday. On Friday 4,718,922 shares valued at N549,173,548 exchanged hands.

Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, with roughly 60 million users.

Malami’s office and MTN Group, issued two separate statement on the decision.

In a letter filed with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, MTN said the government had decided to drop its case and refer the issue to tax and customs authorities “with a view to resolving contentious issues”.

“We are very pleased with the decision of the (attorney general) and we commend him for his wisdom,” MTN Nigeria’s Chief Executive Ferdi Moolman said in a statement.

In a statement, the office of Attorney General Abubakar Malami said the decision “demonstrates unflinching commitment to the rule of law where all statutory agencies will be allowed to independently work with a view to fulfilling their mandates.”

Malami had ruled that the firm owed taxes relating to the import of equipment and payments to foreign suppliers from 2007 to 2017.

The company, whose local unit listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange last year, said at the time that it would sell more shares to the public and increase local ownership once the tax row was resolved.

MTN has a contentious history with Nigerian authorities.

In 2015, the communications regulator handed MTN a $5.2 billion fine https://reut.rs/36IFw61 for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards. MTN eventually reached a deal in which the fine was cut to $1 billion.

In August 2018, MTN’s shares fell by more than 20% after the central bank demanded the company repatriate $8.1 billion that it said the company had illegally sent abroad.

MTN agreed to pay $53 million to settle the case.

Published in Business
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