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Category: Economy

According to the record of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), e-fraudsters have fleeced customers of self-initiated banking solutions, such as Mobile Apps and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) of about N2.08 billion in the last one year.

CBN Director, Payment System Management, Sam Okojere, who broke the news at the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) general meeting in Lagos, said that customers of banks, Other Financial Institutions (OFIs), digital wallets and remittance players are prime targets for cyber criminals seeking quick monetisation of stolen credentials.

The apex bank’s data showed that Nigeria recorded over 38,000 fraud count with over N9 billion attempted fraud value within 12 months. An estimated N2.08 billion was lost in 2018, with mobile channel recording the highest volume and value, of 11, 492 in volume and N598.8 million in actual loss value. The loss value is 25.7 per cent higher than the 2017 figure.

Okojere said that the more products (cheques and over-the-counter services) are channeled through those mobile devices as against previously used channels, the more attractive they become to fraudsters.

He also disclosed that the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBBS) Fraud Report for last year showed that the mobile channel scored 28.21 per cent on the Fraud Interest Index.

The bank chief said: “This could be an early warning sign that fraudsters are shifting focus to mobile attacks and testing the waters in different types of mobile and online banking fraud in 2019.

“It is therefore important that we do not relent in our efforts at protecting this space and increasing public confidence in our electronic channels.

“The truth is that you do not need to go to a bank’s branch to carry out a transaction. Most people are carrying their cards in their phones. The money is not in the phone, but is a channel through which you can assess your bank account and the money in it.

“It is because the attentions of the cyber attackers have moved to the mobile platforms. They are one of us, so they know where the interest is going. One of the things we are doing is to create awareness for both the users and the operators, so that they can tighten the security around mobile device.”

Also speaking at the forum, Executive Director, IT and Operations at Access Bank Plc, Ade Bajomo, said no bank is totally free of cyber-attacks.

To him, there are two classes of banks in Nigeria, when it comes to cyber-attacks: those that have been hacked, and those that do not know they have been hacked.

Bajomo, said hacking is a serious concern for the payment industry, given that there are even companies selling hacking toolkits, encouraging people to go into hacking.

He said: “As we gather here today, there are people who do the same in the dark world. Banks need tone compliant with needed certification for them to be ahead of the e-fraudsters. The nature of sophistication of the e-fraudsters means no one is safe. Some of the mare wares are difficult to understand.

“Banks are where the money is and that’s why they are the primary target. And I can say that only two things can break a bank, the level of their bad loans and fraud.

“It does not matter, once one person is porous, the entire system is affected. We need to create more awareness of the need to protect our financial system.”

Continuing, Okojere, who is also the Chairman of NeFF, urged banks to unite in fighting electronic fraud through a collaboration that will make the ecosystem safer and more inclusive.

He explained that just like technology, electronic fraud has evolved over the years and fraudsters continue to innovate ways to beat the system and elude authorities around the world.

Noting that the Nigeria payment ecosystem has come a long way, particularly in developing techniques to prevent electronic fraud, Okojere said: “Given the importance of providing safe, secure and acceptable payments system, as well as engendering public confidence in electronic means of settlement for goods and services (payments), the role of a proactive management cannot be over-emphasised. It was on this backdrop, that the NeFF was created and has since been riding.

“The aim of NeFF has been to enable information exchange and knowledge sharing on fraud issues amongst key stakeholders with the objective of ensuring a collaborative and proactive approach towards mitigating fraud occurrences, limiting .loses and enhancing confidence.

“Additionally, NeFF has positioned itself to serve as the official body that represents the industry’s position on fraud related issues, while proffering solutions that restore public confidence in the payment ecosystem.”

When the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited was incorporated by the Federal Government on May 17, 1989, with an initial investment of $6 billion, little did it know that, that step of faith and courage taken would later translate to fortunes for the country.

Thirty years post incorporation, the company has more than doubled its asset base now, currently at $15.4 billion, according to the company’s latest data contained in its 2018 facts and figures.

It was the NLNG, for instance, that paid $2.1 billion dividend in 2015, with which the Federal Government bailed out states and local governments with financial challenges to enable them pay their workers.

But despite these far reaching achievements, some threats capable of eroding its gains have continued to be a stumbling block to the existence of this all important national asset, which if not urgently addressed, could cause its doom.

Before now, the NLNG has confronted and surmounted some political rift and litigations which experts have described as counter-productive and a mere distraction to the core operations of the company.

The latest of such cases is the rift with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) which the Court of Appeal has remitted to the Federal High Court for retrial.

Act amendment

Efforts by the National Assembly to surreptitiously amend the NLNG Act primarily to compel NLNG to remit 3 per cent of its annual budget as funding to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was without success.

Having exhausted all the legal options to collect the three per cent levy without success, the NDDC apparently took the battle to the National Assembly with the proposed amendment of the NLNG Act to ensure the remittance of the levy.

But the move, however, met stiff resistance from Nigerians, public commentators, stakeholders, and especially oil workers who maintained that, the amendment was uncalled for because it will go against Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT).

One of the industry unions, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) had opposed the proposed amendment, describing it as unnecessary and saying, “the amendment can cause imminent losses that will far outweigh any doubtful gains.”

President of PENGASSAN, Mr. Francis Johnson, had in an interview with Daily Sun, said oil workers are opposed to the amendment of the NLNG Act because it will impact negatively on the image of Nigeria.

Johnson said it remained worrisome that legislators that are elected by Nigerians, who should be at the vanguard of protecting national interest are the ones championing the cause to mortgage the future of generation yet unborn.

Also, former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof. Tam David-West, equally faulted a similar move that suggested the sale of NLNG.

David-West, in chat with Daily Sun, had said the clamour showed lack of understanding of the current economic quagmire, describing the oil and gas sector as the blood of the nation, warning that, the clamour for outright sale of the country’s shares in the company was a wrong way to tackle economic recession.

But, former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, had in February 2016 alleged that the amount due for payment to the NDDC from the NLNG, which the company refused to pay since the last 16 years, was colossal and insisted that by the action, NLNG disobeyed the country’s laws.

NLNG Vs NIMASA

On May 3, 2013, at about 4.20pm, a tug boat blockaded an NLNG chartered vessel, LNG Adamawa at the instance of NIMASA acting through Global West Vessel Specialists Limited. The blockade, according to industry watchers was a self-help effort to extract levies purportedly owed NIMASA by NLNG. According to NIMASA, these include shipping levies based on gross freight on exports and imports.

Ironically, the NLNG Act exempts Nigeria LNG from payment of the Sea Protection Levy, the 3 percent freight levies on cargo exports shipped by NLNG, and the 2 per cent Cabotage Levy.

NIMASA eventually lifted the blockade on May 5, 2013 after a meeting between the management of NLNG and NIMASA, in which it was resolved for lasting solutions to be sought under the rule of law.

Again, on June 21, 2013, and despite a subsisting court order barring it from further blockade of the Bonny Channel, NIMASA effected another illegal blockade of the Bonny Channel, , preventing NLNG vessels and vessels belonging to its buyers from accessing or leaving the NLNG terminal.

After a three week illegal blockade, during which NLNG was compelled to start making the disputed payments “under protest”, NIMASA ended the blockade.

According to NLNG, the illegal blockade which persisted in spite of court orders, led to lost revenues of over $355 million.

Litigation

In June 2013, NLNG filed a case at the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking judicial clarity and interpretation on the legality or otherwise of the various levies imposed on NLNG by NIMASA.

By October 2017, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, delivered judgment in favour of NLNG against NIMASA, over applicability of the NIMASA levies.

According to the court, NLNG was not liable to make the said payments to NIMASA, and all such payments already made by NLNG to NIMASA “under protest”should be refunded to NLNG forthwith. The court further held that NIMASA was wrong in blockading the Bonny Channel for the purpose of enforcing the payments against NLNG and went further to restrain NIMASA from taking or continuing any steps to block, restrain, seize, detain or restrict NLNG (or its shareholders or subsidiary vessels or chartered vessels).

The said Judgment of the Federal High Court was however, reversed on March 29, 2019, following an appeal filed against the same by NIMASA, with the Court of Appeal directing that the case between the two parties be remitted to the Federal High Court for a re-hearing.

This decision gives the parties right to either go back to the Federal High Court for a re-hearing or appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Where the case is to be heard afresh, the position of the parties would revert to what it was as at the time the case was filed, in which case no payments of the levies in dispute would be made by NLNG to NIMASA pending the re-hearing and determination of the suit. Where, on the other hand, the right of appeal to the Supreme Court is exercised, the status quo as of the date of the Court of Appeal judgment will be maintained, which is to the same effect.

Contributions NLNG has monetised over 6.37 trillion cubic feet of Associated Gas to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs), thus helping to reduce gas flaring by upstream companies from over 60 percent to well under 20 percent.

From the monetisation of gas hitherto being flared, NLNG has generated over $100 billion revenue since inception; paid over $36 billion to shareholders as dividends, of which 49 per cent of that figure has gone to the Federal Government by virtue of its shareholding stake; $28 billion paid to Joint Ventures (JVs) feedgas suppliers while 55 per cent to 60 per cent of that amount has gone to the Federal Government courtesy of its stake in the JVs

According to the company’s latest edition of its facts and figures, NLNG is by far the highest individual payer of Companies Income Tax in Nigeria. In 2018, the company’s corporate income tax paid to the Federal Government amounted to about $864 million, over 40 percent of what was paid in 2017.

‘‘World Class Operations at NLNG, ranked number one in Plant Reliability in 2018 with the achievement of 98.4 per cent Plant Reliability, projecting Nigeria’s image positively and ranked fourth LNG Company worldwide by market share.

“NLNG is arguably number one in CSR in Nigeria. It has spent over N25 billion on community projects over the years; spent over N2 billion on building world-class engineering laboratories in six Nigerian universities through the University Support Programme; spending N120 billion on the construction of Bonny-Bodo Road in Rivers State. Furthermore, the company signed an MoU with the Bonny Island community to provide N3 billion each year for 25 years for the overall development of the Kingdom,” the 2018 facts and figures reports.

NLNG’s planned expansion with the construction of Train 7 will increase plant production by 35 per cent, attracting huge Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)- $2 billion in upstream investment; some $5 billion in construction; and creating over 10, 000 jobs during construction. The 35 per cent increase is expected to significantly impact on revenue, dividends, taxes and CSR contribution in Nigeria.

The Lagos State Special Taskforce on Environmental Sanitation on Sunday said it seized 109 motorcycles at Second Rainbow, along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway for flaunting the state Traffic Laws.

This is just as the agency disclosed it would destroy over 2,500 motorcycles impounded since January for plying restricted routes across the state.

These were contained in a statement released by the agency’s head of Public affairs Taofiq Adebayo on Sunday morning.

According to Adebayo, Taskforce Chairman Olayinka Egbeyemi, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) at the weekend led operatives to Second Rainbow in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area (LGA) following complaints of residents on illegal activities of the motorcyclists.

Adebayo said the raid followed series of warnings to motorcycle riders to desist from operating on restricted routes, particularly highways and bridges across the state.

Quoting the chairman, Adebayo said criminal activities of some the motorcyclists was alarming, noting that some of them harassed passers-by at bus stops.

“While some of them harass innocent members of the public at various bus-stops, others engage in all sorts of criminal acts by dispossessing their passengers of valuables such as phones, jewelleries, and bags. Also, motorists held in traffic both morning and night around these areas were not spared,” Adebayo stated.

Noting that complete clampdown on illegal activities of these operators would be sustained, he said the Taskforce was collaborating with Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and Area Commanders to sustain the onslaught.

“The chairman warned dispatched riders using power bikes (200cc above) to desist from engaging in illegal commercial activities as anyone caught violating Lagos State Traffic Laws would be prosecuted.

“He urged various motorcyle riders associations across the state to on regular basis, educate their members on all 475 restricted routes and the life-threatening danger surrounding plying high-ways and bridges.

“The chairman, however, confirmed that over 2500 illegal commercial motorcycles impounded by the agency in the last three months (January to March 2019) would be crushed by the government,” said Adebayo.

DAY NEWS
June 2019
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