Polls: EFCC raise alarm over fake dollars

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has raised the alarm over the circulation of fake Dollar notes ahead of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.

In a statement signed by the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu, the agency stated that the warning follows intelligence gathered in the build up to the elections.

Magu said the intelligence indicates that the Dollar notes have features of genuineness, but forensic analysis by the Commission reveals otherwise.

“We, therefore, warn the BDC operators to be cautious in their transactions from now till the end of the elections,” he stated.

Kill a python, go to jail, Zoo manager warn Nigerians

The Manager of Imo State Zoological Garden, Dr Francis Abioye, has cautioned Nigerians against killing protected animals including reptiles like python, saying doing so would attract jail term.

Abioye gave the warning on Thursday when he mobilised members of the zoo task force to arrest a resident of Nekede autonomous community in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo, accused of killing a python.

reports shows that the suspect, Mike Uzoma, allegedly killed the python and sold it on Wednesday.

The area where the python was killed is less than a kilometer away from the zoo.

However by the time the task force members got the community to effect the arrest, the suspect had fled.

The manager who addressed members of the community cautioned them against such act, explaining that all animals around the conservation area are protected by law.

Abioye warned that anybody who kills a python or any animal protected by the law will be arrested and prosecuted.

“I have come to educate all of you against the habit of killing animals that are protected by the law.

“Anybody caught killing such animal must be jailed because we cannot continue to watch people destroy our nature out of ignorance”, he said.

Abioye said rather than kill such animals, the residents should contact the zoo curator to capture them.

Some of the residents, who spoke, commended the manager for coming to educate them on why some special animals must be protected.

One of them, Mrs Angela Amaefula said she was ignorant of the law prohibiting the killing of some animals like python, and urged the zoo manager to make such enlightenment programme a regular event.

According to her, doing so would enable members of the public to become fully aware of the need to be friendly with such animals.


Samsung unsettles Apple with folding smartphone

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has unveiled a nearly $2,000 folding smartphone in a bid to top the technology of Apple Inc and Chinese rivals and reignite consumer interest amid slumping sales.

The Galaxy Fold will go on sale on April 26 and take advantage of new and faster 5G mobile networks. The device looks similar to a conventional smartphone, but then opens like a book to reveal a display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm).

The device “answers skeptics who said that everything that could be done has been done,” DJ Koh, chief executive of Samsung Electronics, said at an event in San Francisco. “We are here to prove them wrong.”

Samsung remains the world’s largest smartphone maker with nearly a fifth of global unit sales but underperformed a slumping market last year.

Chinese rival Huawei Technologies Co Ltd – whose Mate series of phones also command premium prices – gained market share. Other Chinese makers like Xiaomi Corp have also been increasing prices, leaving Samsung to defend its turf against upstart rivals in addition to its longtime foe Apple.

With the foldable phone, Samsung is going on the offence on two fronts in the smartphone race: It is offering an eye-catching new feature with the big, bending screen and the first 5G connection in a premium phone, a feature analysts do not expect Apple to match until 2020.

Samsung is also making improvements to its flagship Galaxy S devices and plans to offer a 4G version of its folding phone.

It also challenges the notion of what a phone can cost, debuting at nearly twice the price of current top-of-the-line models from Apple and Samsung itself.

Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, said the new folding device could help Samsung stay at the top and lure consumers to upgrade devices that have looked largely the same over the past five years.

“Samsung and Apple go back and forth” to lead the premium smartphone market, Moorhead said. “I think this is Samsung’s chance to take back the innovation crown.”

And even though the $1,980 starting price is steep, some dedicated Samsung fans said they would pay it. Navneet Kumar Singh, a Samsung enthusiast from India who traveled to San Francisco to watch the launch, is ready to place his order.

“The prices of the flagship models have been a little aggressive in India,” he said, “But in the end, if you invest the money you’re getting a different experience.”

Samsung also introduced several accessories to compete against Apple, including a pair of wireless headphones called Galaxy Buds. The headphones include wireless charging, a feature that Apple has promised to put into is competing AirPods but has not yet released.

Samsung also said that its new Galaxy phones will be able to wirelessly charge its headphones and new smartwatches by setting the accessories on the back of the phone.

Along with the folding phone, Samsung also added new cameras and a 5G version to its Galaxy series of phones.

Verizon Communications Inc will be the first carrier to offer service for Samsung’s 5G phones. The networks are expected to be 10 times faster than current ones, improving viewing of live news and sports events.

With the 5G versions of its flagships, the Korean electronics maker looks to have beaten Chinese rivals in the 5G race, although the device will operate only on the small number of networks launching later this year. Apple is not expected to release a 5G smartphone until late 2020.

China, United States reach tentative deals on trade

The United States and China have started to outline commitments in principle on the stickiest issues in their trade dispute, marking the most significant progress yet toward ending a seven-month trade war, Reuters has reported.

The world’s two largest economies have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of goods, slowing global economic growth, skewing supply chains and disrupting manufacturing.

As officials hold high level talks on Thursday and Friday in Washington, they remain far apart on demands made by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration for structural changes to China’s economy.

But the broad outline of what could make up a deal is beginning to emerge from the talks, the sources said, as the two sides push for an agreement by March 1. That marks the end of a 90-day truce that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to when they met in Argentina late last year.

Negotiators are drawing up six memorandums of understanding on structural issues: forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade, according to two sources familiar with the progress of the talks.

At meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials last week in Beijing the two sides traded texts and worked on outlining obligations on paper, according to one of the sources.

The process has become a real trade negotiation, the source said, so much so that at the end of the week the participants considered staying in Beijing to keep working. Instead they agreed to take a few days off and reconvene in Washington.

The sources requested anonymity to speak candidly about the talks.

The MOUs cover the most complex issues affecting the trading relationship between the two countries and are meant, from the U.S. perspective, to end the practices that led Trump to start levying duties on Chinese imports in the first place.

One source cautioned that the talks could still end in failure. But the work on the MOUs was a significant step in getting China to sign up both to broad principles and to specific commitments on key issues, he said.

The United States has accused Beijing of forcing U.S. companies doing business in China to share their technology with local partners and hand over intellectual property secrets. China denies it engages in such practices.

Trump administration officials also object to non-tariff barriers in China, including industrial subsidies, regulations, business licensing procedures, product standards reviews and other practices that they say keep U.S. goods out of China or give an unfair advantage to domestic firms.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has pushed for China to open its financial services markets to more foreign firms, including credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, which have waited years for China to make good on promises to allow them to operate there.

On currency, U.S. officials including Mnuchin have warned China against devaluing its yuan to gain a competitive advantage after the Chinese currency weakened significantly against the dollar last year, partly counteracting Trump’s tariffs.

The two sides were discussing an enforcement mechanism for the deal, the source said. Reuters reported last month that the United States was pushing for regular reviews of China’s progress on pledged trade reforms and could reinstate tariffs if it deems Beijing has violated the agreement.

The parties also were looking at a 10-item list of ways that China could reduce its trade surplus with the United States, including by buying agricultural produce, energy and goods such as semiconductors, according to two other sources familiar with the talks.

Time is running short ahead of the March 1 deadline to resolve the dispute or see U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods rise from 10 percent to 25 percent. Trump said on Tuesday he thought China had an incentive to move swiftly.

“I think they’re trying to move fast so that doesn’t happen,” he told reporters in the Oval Office, while not ruling out the possibility of extending the deadline.

Lower-level officials held a round of talks in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will be joined on Thursday by the top level negotiators, led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

Resurgent economy: 10 Things to know, by Presidency

When the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, President Muhammadu Buhari declared interest to re-run and take Nigeria to the next level, critics and denigrators wrote to condemn his second term bid.

They noted that Buhari’s led administration failed in all its promises and therefore has no reason to seek for re-election. However, countering their postulations, Presidency via the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, reeled out ten things you should know about Nigeria’s economy.

The Fourth Quarter 2018 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) results released recently by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) give lots of cause to cheer. Below are salient points to note from the report, as the Muhammadu Buhari administration puts the Nigerian economy on firm, solid footing: The economy has recorded continued progress since it emerged from recession in 2017. Current result shows a Real GDP growth of 2.38% compared to 1.81% in Q3 last year, representing the strongest growth since the economy slipped into recession in 2016. For more than five decades, Nigeria has paid lip service to diversifying the economy, from sole dependence on oil. The latest result shows that economic growth has continued to be driven by the non-oil sector, which grew by 2.70% in Q4 2018, up from 2.32% in Q3 2018. It represents the strongest growth in the sector since Q4 2015. The non-oil GDP growth was driven by Quarrying and Other Minerals, followed by Telecommunications, Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Construction. That is diversification in progress, real time, no matter what the naysayers may say. While the non-oil sector actually drove GDP growth, the oil sector contracted with crude oil and gas GDP reducing by -1.62%. This shows that with good governance, focus, prudence and accountability, the life of the country need not depend on oil ad infinitum. The NBS report further shows that Services GDP growth recorded its best performance in 11 quarters, growing by 2.90% compared to 2.64% in Q3 2018 and 0.10% in Q4 2017. Overall, while growth in the economy was moderated by the contraction in the oil sector, 39 out of 46 economic activities recorded positive growth in the quarter under review. The improved GDP growth can be attributed to Government’s continuous implementation of the policy initiatives in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which has boosted the performance of the non-oil sector. The growth in Q4 2018 GDP is consistent with the improvements in other macroeconomic indicators, including inflation, capital inflows, foreign trade, external reserves, amongst others. Headline inflation has been trending downwards from 18.55% as at December 2016 to 15.37% in December 2017 and further to 11.44% in December 2018. The total value of capital importation into Nigeria stood at $2,140 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. This translates to a full year capital inflow of $16,812 million compared to $12,228 million in 2017. Although the economy is now growing, more still must be done to deepen its diversification and make it less vulnerable to external shocks. That is an unflinching commitment of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. Those who do not see any good in something not initiated by them toil endlessly to hoodwink Nigerians into believing that nothing good is happening on the economic front. But facts are stubborn things. The more they try to deny the facts, the more they rudely stare at them in the face. With the Buhari administration, economic Eldorado beckons. Nigeria is inexorably set for that Next Level.BENGBENRO NEWS.

Magazine demands payment of N5m debt from Shehu Sani

A Nigerian newsmagazine has demanded from Senator Shehu Sani, who represents Kaduna Central, the redemption of a N5 million advertisement debt owed since March 2018.

TheNEWS in a press statement said it decided to go public after many fruitless efforts to make the Senator to honour his promise as a gentleman, a much acclaimed human rights activist, social critic and a highly respected national legislator.

According to Independent Communications Network, publisher of the magazine, the company explored personal contacts to persuade Sani to pay. He did not.

“TheNEWS wrote a letter dated 29 November 2018, to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to intervene. Nothing happened”, the magazine’s editor, Ademola Adegbamigbe said.

As the last resort, the magazine’s lawyer, Barrister Umudjoro, of Umudjoro & Co, wrote a letter to Senator Sani, dated 7 February 2019, threatening legal action over the debt.

“Take notice that we shall not hesitate to seek legal remedies in a court of competent jurisdiction if you refuse/neglect to accede to our client’s demand within two weeks of the receipt of this letter. Pay up and avoid the negative publicity usually associated with litigations of this nature”, Umudjoro wrote the Senator.

The lawyer recalled how Sani, in company of his media aide, Comrade Abubakar Ahmed, walked into the magazine’s office in Ikeja, Lagos last year March and asked for the publication of 10-page advertorial at a cost of N5million.

The publication involved deployment of staff to Kaduna state to report on the Senator’s constituency projects.

“In addition to the publication highlighting the constituency projects, the magazine published an extensive interview you granted to its editors which turned out to be very explosive, nationally and internationally. Need we say, you had full coverage as you had desired and wished for”

“Unfortunately, eleven months down the line, you have neglected or refused to pay the debt of Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) accrued from the publication and all efforts made by our clients to persuade you to liquidate the debt, have yielded no fruit”, Umudjoro said.

Indian Oil pays $1.5bn for U.S. Oil in first annual deal

Indian Oil Corp, the country’s top refiner, has signed its first annual deal to buy U.S. oil, paying about 1.5 billion dollars for 60,000 barrels a day in the year to March 2020 to diversify its crude sources, its chairman said on Monday.

IOC is the first Indian state refiner to buy U.S. oil under an annual contract, in a deal that will also help boost trade between New Delhi and Washington.

The company has previously purchased U.S. oil from spot markets and signed a mini-term deal in August to buy 6 million barrels of U.S. oil between November and January.

IOC chairman Sanjiv Singh said the annual contract will begin from April. He declined to give the name of the seller or pricing details, citing confidentiality.

A trade source, who is not authorized to speak to media, said IOC has signed the deal with Norwegian oil company Equinor.

Equinor, which has set up an office in New Delhi to support oil marketing and trading, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Indian Oil buys about 75 per cent of its oil needs through long-term deals, mostly with OPEC nations.

The term deal will help cut IOC’s dependence on OPEC crude, said Sri Paravaikkarasu, head of east of Suez oil for consultants FGE in Singapore.

“Lots of geopolitical issues are going around. We expect lots of volume going away from Venezuela, west Africa and Iran, so it makes sense to have guaranteed term supplies from the U.S., where crude production is increasing,” she said.

“There is a push for diversification everywhere. South Korea is giving a freight rebate for non-Middle East crude imports,” she added.

India and the United States, which have developed close political and security ties, are also looking to develop bilateral trade, which stood at 126 billion dollars in 2017 but is widely seen to be performing well below its potential.

The two countries have set up seven groups of chief executives with top U.S. and Indian firms to boost bilateral trade in areas including energy.

Last week India’s top gas importer Petronet LNG signed an initial deal to invest and buy LNG from Tellurian Inc’s proposed Driftwood project in Louisiana in the United States.

Saudi Crown Prince not seeking to buy Man United – Official

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is not seeking to buy English Premier League (EPL) clubside Manchester United, the kingdom’s media minister said on Monday.

While denying reports to that effect, the minister, Turki al-Shabanah, added that there had only been a meeting with the Saudi wealth fund regarding sponsorship.

Reports that Mohammed Bin Salman intends to buy the club are “completely false”, Shabanah, wrote on social network Twitter.

He was reacting to reports that the crown prince had sought to tempt the Glazer family to cede control of the club.

“Manchester United held a meeting with PIF Saudi to discuss (a) sponsorship opportunity,” Shabanah said, adding that no deal materialised.

On Sunday, the Bengbenro sport news, said the crown prince was in a £3.8-billion ($4.9-billion) take-over bid for one of football’s most popular clubs.

The bengbenro said a bid was first submitted in October.

It added that the fallout from the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s embassy in Istanbul however put the “skids” on a potential offer

IPMAN reduces fuel price over shift in elections

In order to ease some burden on travellers during the rescheduled elections, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has directed its members to reduce pump price of petrol.

The association has directed its members to cut the price from N145 per litre to N140.

A statement by the National President of the association, Elder Chinedu Okworonkwo, was issued through the Chairman, IPMAN Kano state chapter, Alhaji Bashir Dan-Malam.

Okworonkwo said the marketers were expected to comply with the directive from Feb. 20 to Feb. 25.

He said the decision followed the Saturday’s last-minute postponement of presidential and National Assembly elections by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to him, Nigerians travelled to different places across the country to cast their votes, but to their dismay, the election was shifted to Feb. 23.

“IPMAN was prompted to slash N5 from the N145 per litre official Petroleum pump price in a bid to motivate Nigerians to return to vote again on Feb. 23.

“We urge all our members across Nigeria to immediately reduce the fuel pump price from N145 per litre to N140 per litre.

“This is because of the political situation that hit the country after INEC suddenly announced the postponement of presidential and National Assembly elections after Nigerians were fully prepared.

“We are all aware how Nigerians travelled to different parts of the country in order to exercise their civic duty; unfortunately, they heard a sad news of postponement of the polls,” Okworonkwo said.

He said, “This made us deem it fit to reduce the pump price in order to ease their suffering, and to also motivate them to travel again to exercise their franchise on Feb. 23.”

He, therefore, urged his members nationwide to immediately comply with the directive to enable Nigerians to travel to exercise their civic responsibility.

Okworonkwo maintained that the IPMAN’s decision followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s concern over the election postponement.

“We decided to express our concern over the postponement, as president Buhari expressed concern over the development.

As Buhari apologised to Nigerians to show restraint and return to polling units on Feb. 23, IPMAN also call on the citizens to exercise patience and come out en mass to cast their votes on the rescheduled date,” Okworonkwo said.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of IPMAN in Kano state, North West Zonal chairman, Alhaji Bashir Dan-Malam and Bashir Salisu-Tahir have urged their members to ensure strict compliance with the directive.Bengbenro News

How Access Bank plans to attract trade finance with Diamond Bank merger

Access Bank Plc on Friday said it would be well positioned to attract more opportunities from international partners with its Diamond Bank merger.

Mr Herbert Wigwe, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, said this in Lagos while speaking on the benefits of its merger with Diamond Bank Plc.

Wigwe said the bank, after the merger, would attract more opportunities such as trade finance from international partners.

“With the final merger of both banks and the status of the resulting entity as ‘the largest bank in Africa’s largest economy,’ this greatly bolsters the bank’s brand, opening doors of opportunity both in local and international markets,” he said.

Wigwe said the merger was expected to produce the largest banking group in Africa based on its number of customers with more than 29 million customers.

“The resulting entity which will maintain the brand name Access Bank, but with Diamond Bank colors, will have more than 29 million customers, 13 million of which are mobile customers,” he said.

Wigwe said the bank would be a continental force with presence in 12 countries, 3,100 ATMS and nearly 32, 000 Point of Sale.

“As a continental financial force, it is set to attract more opportunities such as trade finance from international partners seeking multinational lenders with local intelligence,” he stated.

Wigwe said that the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Securities and Exchange Commission had granted both banks approval in principle for the merger.

According to him, the final approval will come after the shareholders meeting to be convened by both banks in the first week of March.

He noted that the whole merger process was expected to be completed in the first half of 2019.

“With the final merger of both banks and the status of the resulting entity as ‘the largest bank in Africa’s largest economy,’ this greatly bolsters the bank’s brand, opening doors of opportunity both in local and international markets,” Wigwe added.

He said Diamond bank merging with, “Access Bank also means, the former’s customers can enjoy access to the latter’s strong balance sheet, ubiquitous presence and solid operational structure.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the board of Diamond Bank in December confirmed its merger with Access Bank Plc, which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019.

Mr Uzoma Dozie, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, said in Lagos that the board had selected Access Bank as the preferred bidder with respect to a potential merger of both banks.

Dozie said the potential merger of the two banks would create Nigeria and Africa’s largest retail bank by customers.

He said the transaction to be completed in the first half of 2019 was in the best interest of all stakeholders including, employees, customers, depositors and shareholders.

Dozie said the completion of the merger was subject to certain shareholder and regulatory approvals.

“The proposed merger would involve Access Bank acquiring the entire issued share capital of Diamond Bank in exchange for a combination of cash and shares in Access Bank via a Scheme of Merger.

“Based on the agreement reached by the boards of the two financial institutions, Diamond Bank shareholders will receive a consideration of N3.13 per share, comprising N1 per share in cash,” he said.

Dozie also said the transaction would include the allotment of two new Access Bank ordinary shares for every seven Diamond Bank ordinary shares held as at the implementation date.

“The offer represents a premium of 260 per cent to the closing market price of 87k per share of Diamond Bank on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”) as of Dec. 13, 2018, the date of the final binding offer,” Dozie said.