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Energy theft: Judiciary, Discos, security agencies launch pact

Worried by the increasing rate of energy theft, especially in the South-East Zone, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, has commenced measures to get the judiciary and the security agencies involved in checkmating the menace.

DAILY POST reports that rampart cases of energy theft and vandalism of power facilities formed major part of discus at a seminar organized by the Enugu Disco, weekend, for judicial officers, tagged ‘Judges Seminar.’

Speaking at the event, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati tasked judicial and law enforcement officers on need to check rampant energy theft and vandalism in electricity sector.

The seminar was themed; “Prosecution of Energy Theft, Allied Offences and Industry Related Litigation’’.

The Chief Judge noted that vadalisation, theft and sometimes unauthorised access to electricity facilities were the common threats in the sector.

He noted that these could be source of economic distress to the country that had been trying so hard to improve its power delivery.

According to him, importantly, if the judiciary is not expediently proactive, criminals will continue to exploit the vulnerable aspect of the system and other critical infrastructure.

“Indeed it is important that electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOS) partner with the Bench and other stakeholders in order to stamp out acts that are capable of frustrating the intendment of the Federal Government in privatising the power sector.

“Therefore, it is our collective responsibility to help protect investments in electricity and other key economic infrastructure in Nigeria.

“As an arm of government, the judiciary and law enforcement officers are glad to join hands with stakeholders like the Enugu DISCO and other DISCOS to ensure that this essential commodity is available to all and that investment in the sector is well protected within the ambit of the law.

“To some extent, power sector jurisprudence is a stranger to the Nigerian case law.

“This gap underscores the imperatives of judicial and law enforcement officers to be very conversant with the regime as we will always be confronted with their cases.

“The complexity and interplay of several components in the realization of the novel mandates of the DISCOS obviously attract disputes and disagreements.

“Therefore, with better information, the disputes and disagreements will be resolved expediently through your courts and institutions,’’ he said.

Earlier, Chairman of EEDC, Chief Emeka Offor, noted that the seminar was apt due to the high and alarming rate of energy theft and vandalism in the country.

Offor, who was represented by Mr Ikechukwu Okpala, noted that “within the past six months over 100 transformers had been vandalized within the company’s area of coverage’’.

“We solicit the support of judicial officers in fast adjudication of these cases in order for the judgment to act as a big deterrent to criminals pull down the sector.

“There is also a need for a set of new laws to check the present negative trend in the electricity sector,’’ he said.

In a goodwill message, the Managing Director of EEDC, Mr Okechukwu Nwosu, said that the judiciary would play a very pivotal role in addressing energy theft in the country.

“The pervasive nature of energy theft in EEDC areas of coverage is quite alarming and poses a threat to the company’s operation.

“EEDC has in the past two years embarked on a massive metering programme. However, it is disheartening to note that a very high percentage of the meters are bypassed or have their seals tampered with,’’ Nwosu said.

The seminar was attended by judges from Federal and State High Courts; magistrates, directors of public prosecutions as well as police and NSCDC officers in-charge of legal departments from the South-East.

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Tunde Ayeni: Judge blasts EFCC for misleading court in ex-Skye Bank Chairman’s case

An FCT High Court Maitama on Tuesday, set aside an order it earlier granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to detain a former Chairman of the defunct Skye Bank, Tunde Ayeni for 14 days.

Justice Yusuf Halilu, setting aside the order, said that the EFCC had suppressed facts which, misled the court into earlier granting the application, thereby, making the detention illegal.

According to NAN, Justice Halilu held that the Court was not aware of all the facts presented by the applicant and which the EFCC could not deny.

“Having considered all the facts before the court, it is clear that the commission suppressed facts to mislead the court.

“If indeed there is a fresh petition against the applicant, and a pending matter is before the Federal High Court, the respondent needs not a remand order, but to apply to amend the charge in which it is prosecuting the applicant.

“By coming for a remand order, the respondent had come to tamper with the sacred right of the applicant, which he enjoys. I wonder

“On this note, I hereby set aside the earlier remand order and order the immediate release

Mr. Ahmed Raji SAN Ayeni’s counsel had approached the court seeking his release from the EFCC custody.

The anti-graft agency had last week approached the Court through an ex-parte application seeking a 14 day remand order of Ayeni.

The EFCC had premised the request for a remand on a need to investigate a petition submitted by the Office of the Vice President in respect of his alleged roles as the Chairman of the defunct Skye Bank.

The court then granted the said ex-parte application.

In his submissions, Raji argued that the application is challenging the jurisdiction of the court and the action of the Commission.

He informed the court, of a pending suit before the Federal High Court against the applicant on the same subject matter and that the trial judge at the Federal High Court, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba had in the particular case admitted him to bail.

He added that the bail condition had since been perfected

Raji added that the detention of the applicant was a breach of his fundamental human right as he went to the Commission by himself on invitation.

He further submitted that anti-graft agency purportedly admitted the applicant to administration bail on a non -realizable terms, which amounts to “giving bail with one hand ,and collecting it back with the other hand”.

Raji argued, that the subject matter in which the applicant was detained centers around Skye bank issue which is already before the Federal High Court.

He however prayed the court to set aside the remand order and release the applicant.

In his response, respondent counsel, Mr. A.I Audu opposed to the application on ground that the subject matter of which the applicant is being detained was fresh quite different from the that of the matter before the Federal High Court.

He added that asides the petition submitted by the Office of the Vice President, the acting Chairman of the Commission also received a petition against the applicant from a Non Governmental Organization.

He however added that the applicant was invited based on the petition that he received about N8 billion from CBN to buy over Union Homes.

Audu further submitted that the applicant has been giving useful information to the Commission but fell ill along the way and he was consequently taken to the hospital.

He added, it is the illness of the applicant that prompted the Commission to seek for an order to further remand him to complete the investigation.

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Coronation Research releases Nigeria’s 2018 Q4 GDP

Q4 2018 GDP was reported today at +2.38% y/y versus the Bloomberg consensus estimate of +2.10% y/y. Non-oil growth was a respectable +2.70% y/y and has accelerated over the past four quarters. See page 2.

FY 2018 GDP was +1.93% y/y, compared with +1.76% y/y for 9M 2018 and +0.82% y/y for 2017. The World Bank’s revised estimate for 2018 was +1.90% y/y.

While below trend, growth is on a gentle upward slope. We forecast +2.25% y/y growth for 2019.

Positive implications for equities. Lack of loan growth was the bugbear for listed banks in 2018: more growth, particularly in the Telecoms and Manufacturing sectors, may point to renewed loan demand in 2019, though the large Trade sector (up by just 1.02% y/y) remains essentially weak. Segmental data for construction, +2.05% y/y, bodes well for the cement industry.

Mildly positive for market interest rates. As we argue in Coronation Research, Year Ahead 2019, A tale of two halves, 15 January, market interest rates support foreign portfolio investment, but may be cut in Q4 or even Q3 2019 if inflation moderates. We are already seeing some read-though in 10-year bond yields.

Mildly positive for inflation. The Agriculture segment (26% of GDP) showed improved growth (+2.46% y/y) and to the extent that this reflects improved production, we expect inflationary pressure to moderate towards mid-year, if momentum is sustained.

Nigeria, y/y GDP growth

Non-oil & gas GDP

Robust performance in Non-oil GDP

Non-oil GDP accelerated throughout 2018, growing steadily from +0.76% y/y in Q1 18 to +2.70% y/y in Q4 18. We see a pattern emerging as the economy emerged from recession. Whereas GDP was reliant on its oil component to stimulate growth for much of the past, and therefore highly susceptible to volatility in the prices and production, non-oil GDP has become more resilient to such shocks. The Q3 2017 0.76% y/y decline in non-oil GDP now reads as an isolated event post-recession.

This resilience is even more impressive given that Agriculture is not growing as quickly as it did in 2016 and 2017, while Trade and Manufacturing have performed inconsistently. We expect Agriculture to post a very gradual recovery to its trend growth rate of 3%.

Nigeria’s GDP growth y/y, with and without oil & gas

Source: National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Coronation Research *Q3 16 non-oil GDP was positive at 0.03% y/y.

More recently Telecoms has been the main driver of growth in non-oil GDP. The sector grew 11.33% y/y for FY 2018. it is easily the best performing sector of the top six contributors to GDP well above Agriculture which grew by 2.12% y/y for FY 2018.

On the other hand, Oil & Gas GDP has underperformed in 2018, following one quarter of positive growth (Q1 2018, 14.77% y/y) with three consecutive quarters of year-on-year decline. The volatility of Oil and Gas itself is not surprising – in the last eight years it has recorded growth rates between +24.21% y/y and -23.04% y/y.

GDP Breakdown

Breakdown among the major segments

The top six sectors accounted for 74.10% of the Nigerian economy in Q4 2018, down 406bps from their collective contribution in Q3 2018. In order of size they were Agriculture, Trade, Telecoms, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, and Real Estate.

In Q4 2018 Agriculture (25.83% of GDP) grew by 2.46% y/y. Trade (16.29% of GDP) grew by 1.02% y/y. Telecoms (9.73% of GDP) grew by 16.67% y/y. Manufacturing (8.75% of GDP) grew by 2.35% y/y. Oil & Gas (6.97% of GDP) contracted by 1.62% y/y. And Real Estate (6.52% of GDP) fell by 3.85% y/y.

Therefore, of the six largest sectors, four grew and two contracted. Agriculture sustained its upward track towards trend growth of 3%, indicating, a slowdown in core inflation is likely in the medium term. Manufacturing performance and PMI data are now showing signs of convergence after a period of disconnect. Telecoms consolidated it status as a core stimulant for non-oil GDP growth having reported double-digit growth over the last three quarters. Oil & Gas recorded a third consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline period post-Q1 17, mirroring the global trend in oil prices. Trading was up for two consecutive quarters. Real Estate remained in a sticky decline, with no clear pattern emerging in its development.

Nigeria GDP, y/y growth in key sectors

The growth in Agriculture remains at just below its 3% long term trend. At 26% of GDP, its provides a defense against the steep volatility that characterizes the Oil & Gas component.

Trade remains weak but positive

While a small percentage of consumers assess short-term unsecured credit for current consumption, most consumers fund consumption from out of pocket appropriations. The effect is some headroom for import-elastic consumption but also more importantly, demand for cheaper substitutes where possible. Trade growth suffers in this regard.

Positive growth in Manufacturing is being sustained by stability in the foreign exchange market, a feat achieved by the CBN’s willingness to supply US dollars to the foreign exchange markets, while offering inflation-adjusted yields in excess of 500bps to foreign investors. The combined growth in both Trade and Manufacturing, two sectors highly responsive to consumers wallet sizes and expectations, point to a pass-through of election-induced spending in the short term and broader recovery in the economy.

Swing Sectors

Telecoms – conditions at their best in years

The Telecoms sector (9.73% of GDP), grew by 16.67% y/y in Q4 2018. Building on its Q3 18 performance, the sector extended gains to post an 11.33% year-on-year growth among peers with contribution to GDP above 6.00%.

Telecoms segment of GDP, y/y growth

Strong growth in Telecoms reflects new investments, growing franchises and growth in internet and mobile banking. A deeper penetration of data-reliant devices in the Nigerian market, and an increasing migration of media services to internet-driven platforms otherwise traditionally offered off-net explain the strong performance. We expect Telecoms to leverage participation as Payment Service Banks and sustain growth going forward.

Nigeria, oil production

Oil & Gas GDP continues to exhibit volatility. Nigerian oil production was flat year-on-year and up 1.33% q/q in Q4 2018. However, actual cargo loadings from exports terminals declined by 7.29% q/q and 5.53% y/y in Q4. This, together with an average quarterly price below US$70.00bbl, partly explains the slide in Oil & Gas GDP for the quarter. A degree of volatility in production is likely to be addressed by the new Egina Oil field but Nigeria remains exposed to price volatility.

Pattern of growth and outlook for 2019

Q4 2018 GDP growth outperformed the Bloomberg consensus estimate of 2.10% y/y. While some of this growth may have been induced by election-related demand, we believe that more fundamental factors, in particular Naira foreign exchange stability, are at work.

Monetary policy is less likely to change in response to the latest development in GDP, at least in H1 2019. Real growth of 1.93% for FY 2018 was achieved on the back of adjustments in fundamental variables, in our opinion. For instance, demand for loans was weak but we do not read this as an effect of market interest rates 300pbs above the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR). Prime lending rates data show a standard deviation of only 1.05pps since 2006, suggesting that interest rates are seldom low. We expect a positive shift in manufacturers’ and investor’ confidence, to have spurred growth, irrespective of interest rates.

Fiscal policy, in so far as it relates to government spending, is limited in contributing to real sector growth by its sheer smallness relative to the economy as a whole. Increasing debt servicing costs further squeeze government revenues and implementation of capital expenditure.

However, the trend in Agriculture is positive. Even more so is the performance of the Telecoms sector which headlined overall growth in Q4. A stable exchange rate remains the platform for Trade and Manufacturing to rebound though slack demand are likely to keep growth capped.

Downside risks to GDP growth remain from the risk of declining crude production levels and oil price volatility, as well as the performance of Real Estate. Nevertheless, we expect our base case GDP forecast of 2.25% y/y for

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Court Remands Ecobank Manager In Prison For N411million Fraud

A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has ordered the remand of Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike, a manager of Ecobank Plc, over allegations of defrauding one of the bank’s customers to the tune of N411million.

Azike was arraigned before Justice Ayotunde Faji on Tuesday, by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force on a three-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretences, false representation and fraud.

The charge signed by ASP Daniel Aporchi, marked FHC/L/56c/2019, alleged that the Ecobank manager, fraudulently obtained the sum of N150million from one Okafor Ikenna Kelvin, owner of the bank account number, 0533010936.

Azike allegedly received the money between 2016 and 2017, under the pretext of buying the customer a Federal Government Treasury Bill in his bank.

Azike was also alleged to have forged the bank customer’s signature and a letter of instruction, which he used to open another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin, with account number: 5333063028.

The Police also alleged that the bank manager, without the consent of the bank, fraudulently converted the sum of N411million belonging to the customer, to his personal use.

The offences, according to the prosecutor, Daniel Apochi, contradicts the provision of Section 1(1)(a), 15(1)(2) and 15(2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006, and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

The offence is also said to be contrary to the provisions of section 1(2)(2) of the miscellaneous Act. Cap. M17, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

The charge sheet, sighted by SaharaReporters, read: “That you lfeanyi Chukwu Azike ‘M’ sometime in 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Federal High Court with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) from Mr Okafor Ikenna Kelvin, a customer of Ecobank Plc with Account No: 533010936 from your employer, by falsely representing to him that you are going to purchase Federal Government Treasury Bill in Ecobank Nigeria Plc for him as Bank Manager, which representation you knew to be false or did not believe to be true and by this conduct, you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 6V2006, but punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

“That you Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ sometime between 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Federal High Court did forge Signature, Picture, Letter of Instruction to open another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin, account number: 5333063028, knowing it to be false or with intent that it may in anyway be used or acted upon as genuine, whether in Nigeria or elsewhere to the prejudice of Ikenna Okafor Kelvin and Ecobank Plc your employer, you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1(2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“That you Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ on or about 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, did fraudulent convert to your use the sum of N411,000,000.00 (four hundred and eleven million Naira) being money fraudulently withdraw from your employer bank without their consent, and customer of your bank, Ecobank Plc for enabling you invest on behalf of the Customer, which you failed to deliver with the aim of converting the illicit origin of the resources and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 15(1)(2) and 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following his plea of not guilty, the prosecutor urged the court to remand him in prison custody pending trial.

Consequently, Justice Faji ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody, while he adjourned till March 8, for trial.

The judge also fixed the date for hearing of his bail application.

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