By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Kirikiri Lighter Terminal Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has foiled the illegal export of charcoal.
The item, according to the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Hammi Swomen, was packed in a 24×40ft container of charcoal with a duty paid value running into millions of Naira.
Addressing journalists in Lagos, the Customs KLT Command said other items were also seized by his men between January 2021 and November 2021.
“During the period under review, the Command has also made seizures of 3×40ft container of vegetable oil, 1×40ft container of used tyres, 1×40ft container of expired bottled water and recently intercepted 24×40ft container of charcoal. The Duty Paid Value of the seized items stood at N218.7 million.
“The properly packaged charcoals in bags were destined for export without any proper documentation, nor regulatory approval, right now an investigation is ongoing and the result of the investigation will be made known to the public,” he informed newsmen.
Mr Swomen also disclosed that the command recorded a 65.6 per cent increase in revenue generation in the first 11 months of this year, surpassing the N19.7 billion it generated within the same period last year.
He said despite logistics constraints of access and exit, worsened by deplorable road network, the Command has collected N32 billion as revenue within the period under consideration.
“For the first time in the history of this Command, we collected a record of N4.3 billion for the month of July 2021, more than 200 per cent increase in revenue compared to July 2020 when it generated N1.6 billion,” the customs officer said.
Tough Times Await Promoters of Unregistered Investment Schemes
By Dipo Olowookere
Promoters of Ponzi schemes and unregistered investment schemes in Nigeria may soon be in big trouble if the law being proposed by the National Assembly is passed into law and signed by the President.
On Thursday, a bill to amend the Investment and Securities Act 2007, sponsored by Mr Babangida Ibrahim, representing MalumFashi/Kafur Federal Constituency in Katsina State at the House of Representatives, scaled the second reading.
The amendment is titled A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Investments and Securities Act, 2007 and Enact the Investments and Securities Bill to Establish Securities and Exchange Commission as the Apex Regulatory Authority for the Nigerian Capital Market as well as Regulation of the Market to ensure Capital Formation, the Protection of the Market to ensure Capital Formation, the Protection of Investors, Maintain Fair, Efficient and Transparent Market and Reduction of Systematic Risk; and for Related Matters.
The bill intends to combat the menace of Ponzi schemes and ensure that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is well equipped to stem the tide.
According to Mr Ibrahim, there has been a lot of complaints by Nigerians on the activities of these schemes that promise unreasonably high returns and at the end of the day, they fleece Nigerians of their hard-earned money hence the need for more regulations to monitor them.
Under the proposed law, ‘A bill to repeal the Investment and Securities Act 2007 and to enact the Investments and Securities Act, 2021’ which passed the second reading at the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday, SEC will be empowered to address the challenges of Ponzi schemes.
Section 195 (1) of the Bill empowers SEC thus: “The Commission shall have the power to enter and seal up all prohibited schemes and shall obtain an Order of court to freeze and forfeit all assets of such schemes to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“(2) The cost and expenses incurred under subsection (1) above shall be a first charge from the funds and properties of the illegal scheme including assets of its owners, promoters and or managers, whether acquired legitimately or otherwise.
“(3) For the purposes of this Bill, “prohibited scheme” including those commonly known as a Ponzi or Pyramid scheme means: (a) Any investment scheme that pays existing contributors with funds collected from new contributors to the scheme promising high returns with little or no risk: i) Whether or not the scheme limits the number of persons who may participate therein, either expressly or by the application of conditions affecting the eligibility of a person to enter into, or receive compensation under the scheme; or ii) Whether the scheme is operated at a physical address or through the internet or other electronic means. (b) Any scheme where participants attempt to make money by recruiting new participants usually where: (i) the promoter promises a high return in a short period of time, and (ii) no genuine product or service is actually sold; or (iii) the primary emphasis is on recruiting new participants
“(4) The promoter(s) and operator(s) of any entity engaged in a prohibited scheme commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term of ten (10) years or a fine of N5,000,000 or both”.
According to Mr Ibrahim, “The current ISA 2007 is old and we all know a lot has happened between that time and now like technological advancements. The capital market has to be dynamic in today’s world in a bid to contribute its quota to national development and that is one of the reasons why we are pushing this.”
“A lot of things have happened between that time and now hence the need for an amendment. When that law came into existence we did not have derivatives and commodities markets as we do now, these are some of the issues that are necessitating this amendment.
“The plan is to make this Bill a little bit flexible so some national government can be able to approach the capital market to source for fund either for developmental projects,” he added.
Another part of the amendment is to increase the period within which a claim for compensation could be made for the Investor Protection Fund to six years from the date of occurrence of the defalcation, revocation, cancellation, insolvency or bankruptcy of the dealing firm. The period in the current Act is six months.
The objectives of an Investor Protection Fund is to compensate investors who suffer pecuniary loss arising from the insolvency, bankruptcy or negligence of a dealing member firm of a securities exchange; defalcation committed by a dealing member firm or any of its directors, officers, employees or representatives in relation to securities, money or any property entrusted to, or received or deemed received by the dealing member firm in the course of its business as a capital market operator; and revocation or cancellation of the registration of a dealing member firm.
According to the proposed amendment, two new subsections have been introduced to complement the existing provisions on the manner in which a claim to the investor protection fund can be made.
This is a departure from Section 213 (2) of the 2007 Act, which requires a claim for compensation to be made in the first instance to the securities exchange.
In addition, subsection (4) of the Act has been modified to take care of such preconditions for compensation as may have been prescribed by the Board of Trustees.
Specifically, it added that a verified claim must be paid by the investor protection fund to an investor within 14 days of such verification by the securities exchange.
It said, “A claim for compensation under this part of the Bill shall be made in writing to the board of trustees within 6 years from the date of occurrence of the defalcation, revocation or cancellation of the registration of the dealing member firm and insolvency or bankruptcy of the dealing member firm, and any claim which is not so made shall be barred unless the Commission otherwise determines.
“No action for damages shall lie against a securities exchange or against any member or employee of a securities exchange or of a board of trustees or management sub-committee by reason of any notice published in good faith and without malice for the purposes of this section.”
Mr Ibrahim expressed the optimism that when the Bill is passed into law, it would empower the SEC with the necessary backing to effectively regulate the capital market and emphasize the independence of the agency in line with the requirements of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
NCDMB, Navy Collaborate to Enforce Oil and Gas Act
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and the Nigerian Navy have reached an agreement to collaborate closely to enforce the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act in maritime operations.
The partnership will help curb the use of non–compliant and non–categorized vessels and intercept illegal vessels and non–compliant crew members on oil and gas locations.
The two organisations would set up a high-level committee that would work out detailed modalities for the collaboration and enable both organizations to accomplish their respective mandates.
These decisions were reached during the visit of the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Kesiye Wabote to the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo in Abuja.
According to the Executive Secretary, the board receives alerts regularly via its whistle-blowing portal and would like to investigate such information and recommend genuine cases to the Navy.
Other possible areas of collaboration include support to the board in assessment visits to vessels and provision of information to the board on vessels and tankers plying the Nigerian waters and oil and gas locations.
Mr Wabote indicated that the Navy is well situated to drive the security aspect of the industry’s operations, particularly in securing the nation’s shores against piracy and illegal oil bunkering.
He said the Navy’s role was critical because the bulk of Nigeria’s oil and gas reserves lie along with the coastal areas of the country including major infrastructure and plants for hydrocarbon processing and exports.
He also commended the Navy for its efforts in promoting Nigerian content, notably by engaging the services of indigenous engineers and service companies in the fabrication and maintenance of Navy boats, thereby boosting local content in the industry.
He highlighted the need for closer ties particularly because of the Board’s long-term vision to increase Nigerian Content levels in the oil and gas sector from the current level of about 40 per cent to 70 per cent by the year 2027 as part of the Nigerian Content 10-Year Strategic Roadmap.
He identified the board’s marine vessels development and categorization strategy as one of the core initiatives that would support the actualisation of the 10-year roadmap.
The goals of the marine vessel initiative are to promote the construction and maintain vessels in Nigerian yards, stimulate ownership of marine vessels by Nigerian entities, grow flagging & registration of vessels in Nigeria, deepen Nigerian manning of marine vessels, and develop world-class ship repairs and shipbuilding yard.
He reported that the board had made progress in the various aspects of these objectives such as support for the acquisition of marine vessels by Nigerians via the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund managed by the Bank of Industry (BoI), provision of sea-time training for marine cadets, patronage of in-country dry-docks, and the completion of the feasibility study and site selection for the proposed development of shipyard.
Listing some of the achievements of the board in the past five years, Wabote stated that it had begun the first phase of developing the Brass Island Terminal in Bayelsa State.
The facility will carry out repair and maintenance of large ships and vessels such as LNG LNG carriers, VLCCs and maritime equipment such as jack-up rig vessels.
In his comments, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu lauded the Board for the numerous achievements it had recorded in implementing the NOGICD Act and pledged the support of the Nany in deepening stakeholders’ compliance with the NOGICD Act.
He also sought the assistance of the Board in upgrading the Naval shipyard in Lagos, particularly the slipway.
While highlighting the Navy’s milestones in research and development, the Naval chief sought the board’s collaboration in improving the Navy’s R&D capabilities as well as creating a market for their products in the oil and gas industry.