Thursday, May 23, 2019

Assets Recovery Report Will Get ‘Due Consideration’, Says Buhari

 
President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government will thoroughly consider the audit report on all assets recovered in the first half of his administration.
He said this in his remarks after receiving the report on Tuesday inside the council chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
“We must utilise proceeds of our recoveries optimally to address our economic and social problems,” said Buhari who vowed to block the “loopholes for stealing public funds”.
“To this end, let me ensure Nigerians that the findings and recommendations of the committee would be carefully examined and given due consideration with a view to implementing the recommendations.”
The President stressed that the anti-corruption crusade of the government would continue to get the needed support of his administration.
According to him, the nation’s asset recovery and management system will be managed transparently, effectively, and efficiently in the nearest future.
He added that his administration would create a fresh template to promote public accountability in the country.
On further plans to fight corruption, President Buhari explained that ‘Proceeds of Crimes Bill’ pending at the National Assembly would go a long way to helped achieve the desired results.
“A key tool that will revolutionalise our assets recovery and management architecture is the ‘Proceeds of Crimes Bill’ which is currently awaiting passage by the National Assembly,” he said. “I, therefore, encourage the National Assembly to take necessary steps to pass the bill.”
“Once the bill is passed and assented to, many challenges facing our assets recovery and management process will be adequately taken care of as the bill addresses most of the challenges facing effective assets recovery and management in Nigeria.”
The six-volume report was presented to the President by the leader of the Presidential Audit Committee on Recovered Assets, Mr Femi Lijadu.
President Buhari inaugurated the committee on November 22, 2017, with a mandate to carry out a holistic audit of all recovered assets from May 29, 2015, to the date of inauguration of the committee.
After receiving the report, the president reiterated his government’s resolve to continue with its anti-corruption policies.
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Trader Moni: Osinbajo Launches Interest-Free Loan Scheme In Cross River

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (file)
 
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has launched the Federal Government’s Trader Moni-N10,000 collateral interest-free loan in Cross River State.
Professor Osinbajo launched the microcredit scheme on Tuesday in Calabar amid a crowd of traders at Watt market in the state capital.
He flagged off the programme in company with the state governor, Professor Ben Ayade, and top government officials.
VP Osinbajo arrives Calabar to an enthusiastic welcome. He is visiting to launch Trader Moni in Cross River State among some other meetings pic.twitter.com/gFMvr4S5bd
— Laolu Akande (@akandeoj) September 12, 2018
VP Osinbajo launches Trader Moni at Watt market, Calabar to the excitement of the petty traders. He was accompanied by Cross River State Gov Ayade pic.twitter.com/hraA8qJqNv
— Laolu Akande (@akandeoj) September 12, 2018
The Trader Moni scheme began in 2016 and is part of the Social Investment Programme of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
It was launched in Cross River after it had already kicked off in Lagos, Kano, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Katsina, Osun and Kogi, as well as Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The Presidency had faulted claims that beneficiaries must possess a Permanent Voter Card (PVC) to be eligible for the programme.
“The petty traders are not required to show PVC or any document for that matter,” Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, had said in a statement.
“They are only expected to show they are petty traders, and this is why the enumeration is done in the markets and wherever the traders ply their trades.”
During his visit to Cross River, Professor Yemi Osinbajo held a closed-door meeting with the Christian community in the state.
He told reporters after the meeting that the Federal Government was doing its best to tackle the security challenges facing the nation.
The vice president believes that if the problem of land ownership and management is solved, there will be relative peace and stability in states experiencing security challenges.
He assured Nigerians that the government would continue to provide the needed support towards sustaining the relationship between farmers and herdsmen in the country.
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Buhari Receives Audit Report On Recovered Assets

 
 
President Muhammadu Buhari has received the audit report on recovered assets from the Presidential Audit Committee.
The report which contains six volumes was presented by the leader of the audit committee, Femi Lijadu.
The President had inaugurated the audit committee on November 22, 2017, in order to carry out a holistic audit of all recovered assets from May 29, 2015, to the date of the committee inauguration.
He promised to carefully study the report with a view to implementing its recommendations.
He also reiterated his governments resolve to continue to pursue its anti-corruption policies.
Consequently, he urged the National Assembly to speed up the passage of the “Proceeds of Crime Bill” before it, to further boost the fight against corruption.
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Paris Club Refund: FG Insists States Must Pay Salaries Before Accessing Balance

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun (file photo)
 
The Federal Government says states must pay outstanding salaries to workers before they can receive their balance of the Paris Club Refund.
The Federal Ministry of Finance said this in a statement on Tuesday while listing other conditions for the collection of the remaining funds.
It said, “The final approval of US$2.689 billion is subject to the following conditions:
“Salary and staff related arrears must be paid as a priority; Commitment to the commencement of the repayment of Budget Support Loans granted in 2016, to be made by all States; Clearing of amounts due to the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative”.
The Ministry further asked the states to “clear matching grants from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC)”.
It said some states have available funds which could be used to improve primary education and learning outcomes.
Issues of over-deduction of the Paris Club loan had caused a long-standing dispute between the Federal Government and the State Governments as far back as 1995.
But in 2016 the President directed that the claims of over-deduction be formally and individually reconciled by the Debt Management Office (DMO) – a process which commenced in November that year.
As an interim measure to alleviate the financial challenges of the states during the 2016 recession, the President approved that 50% of the amounts claimed by states be paid, to enable them clear salary and pension arrears.
The funds were then released between December 1, 2016 and September 29, 2017.
However, the ministry says full payments will only be made after the aforementioned conditions are met and that the Federal Government would make the payment in phases.
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MTN Seeks Court Injunction Against CBN, AGF

 
MTN Nigeria has sought an injunction from the Federal High Court restraining the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from taking further action against the company over allegations of illegal funds repatriation, among others.
In a statement on Monday, the telecommunications company reiterated that the claims were false and that it had decided to head to court in order to protect the company’s assets and shareholder rights within the confines of the law.
“In order to protect MTN Nigeria’s assets and shareholder rights within the confines of the law, we have applied today in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for injunctive relief restraining the CBN and the AGF from taking further action in respect of their orders, while we continue to engage with the relevant authorities on these matters”.
The CBN had alleged improper dividend repatriations by MTN Nigeria and requested that $8.1 billion be returned “to the coffers of the CBN”.
The AGF, on the other hand, alleged unpaid taxes on foreign payments and imports of up to $2 billion and asked that the taxes be paid back to the Federal Government.
However, in a statement on Tuesday (September 4), MTN rejected the claims, stating that it had fully settled all amounts it owed the government under the taxes in question.
Furthermore, in a statement on Monday (September 10), the company said, “The simple reality is that MTN Nigeria has never repatriated dividends on the CCIs referenced by the CBN and that MTN is fully compliant with Nigerian tax law.
“With situations like this, it is vital for both the government, regulators and the company to have absolute clarity on the nature of both the allegations being made and the processes that are being followed.
“In the absence of this clarity, our only option is to seek judicial intervention and to ask the courts to act as adjudicator. This has been done today.”
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FG To Go After Bank Accounts Of Billionaires Owing Tax

Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler, says the agency will soon go after the bank accounts of defaulting taxpayers who are raking in billions in Nigeria and are not paying taxes.
The FIRS boss said the agency will through all banks in the country, do a substitution on accounts for such identified taxpayers.
“There are Over 6772 of such defaulting billionaire taxpayers been identified by the FIRS, leveraging on banks data,” he said.
Fowler who disclosed this at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, noted that most of such taxpayers have between N1million and N5 billion in their accounts have no Taxpayer Identification Number, TIN, or have TIN and have not filed any tax returns as taxpayers.
He said, “What we have done is what we call “substitution” which also is in our laws which empowers us to appoint the banks as collection agents for tax. So, all these ones of TIN and no pay and no TIN and no pay, to the total of 6772 will have their accounts frozen or put under substitution pending when they come forward.
“First, they refused to come forward in 2016, they refused to come forward under VAT and are still operating here. So, we are putting them under notice that it is their civic responsibility to pay tax and to file returns on these accounts.
“We looked at all businesses, partnerships, corporate accounts that have a minimum turnover of N1 billion per annum for the past three years. First of all, the law states clearly that before you open a corporate account, part of the opening documentation is the tax I.D. From the 23 banks, we have analysed so far, we have 31,395 records, out of which effectively minus duplications we had 18,602.”
 
He also called for support from banks in other to fish out the bank accounts of the erring billionaires.
“I plead with the banks to support us, in supporting us, you are supporting Nigeria. In supporting Nigeria, you are supporting all Nigerians and those who have chosen Nigeria as home. And most of all, you are supporting a future that we can leave behind for the upcoming youth of Nigeria.”
He noted that FIRS is also paying close attention to accounts auditing.
“We have started a comprehensive audit exercise that involves both national and regional audit because we got to a position where we found out that majority of the major organisations that were allowed to do self-assessment, do not truthfully declare or pay the taxes that were due.
“Till date, we have raised an assessment of over N805 billion from 1324 National Audits out of which 499 (taxpayers) have N219 billion.”
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Osinbajo Asks Dairy Investors To Support Local Production

 
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on investors in the dairy industry to facilitate backward integration in the sector, including providing incentives for local dairy farmers.
Professor Osinbajo made the call on Friday when he received a delegation from FrieslandCampina led by its Global CEO, Mr Hein Schumacher, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
“I think that Friesland needs to, on its own, do something because there is really no incentive for backward integration,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media assistant, Mr Laolu Akande.
“I think that there is a need for you to do more in terms of local production and set some timelines. Maybe after six years, you should be doing 70 per cent and not 10 per cent. My view is that if we go at the current rate, it will be extremely difficult for the local producers to move up.”
The vice president stressed the need to develop a robust plan for extending the dairy development programme across the country.
Although he said backward integration was very crucial, he decried the lack of incentives for the initiative.
To address the issue, Professor Osinbajo proposed a programme aimed at putting the dairy farmers in a position where they can produce more.
“There should be a very robust plan to encourage cattle breeders to actually increase yields so that we can say, after a particular period, 70 per cent of products should be locally produced but the problem, I must say, is still the lack of incentives,” he said.
Osinbajo assured the delegation of the Federal Government’s readiness to support the country to actualise its set business objectives.
He also called for a better synergy between the public and private sector.
Mr Schumacher informed the vice president earlier that the company had developed a plan to grow local dairy industry through a small-holder farmer dairy programme in the country.
He urged the Federal Government to support the company’s development plan by improving infrastructure in its operational base in Oyo State and also providing tax incentives for its new investments.
The delegation also included the Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Robert Petri, and the Chairman of the FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria, Mr Jacob Ajekigbe, as well as other management staff of the company.
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CBN Deducts N5.61bn From Three Banks

 
The Central Bank of Nigeria has deducted a total of N5.61 billion from the accounts of three banks as fines it imposed on them last week for alleged illegal repatriation of funds for telecoms giant, MTN.
According to a report by Reuters, the three banks include Standard Chartered which was debited N2.47 billion, Stanbic IBTC N1.88 billion, and Citibank Nigeria N1.26 billion.
Although four banks were sanctioned last week by the regulator, it is not yet clear if the N250 million fine on Diamond Bank was deducted from its account by the CBN.
Meanwhile, Standard Bank and Citibank have confirmed the deductions and notified their parent companies in South Africa and the United States about the development, pledging full co-operation with the CBN to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
In a statement on Thursday, Standard Bank said, “Following our earlier announcement to The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on 30 August 2018, in respect of the penalty of N1.886 billion imposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on our banking subsidiary – Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC (the Bank) in relation to the remittance of foreign exchange on the basis of certain capital importation certificates issued to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, we write to update the NSE that the CBN has debited the account of our banking subsidiary with the CBN for the full amount of the above-stated fine advised to the Bank.
“Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, as well as our banking subsidiary, maintain our position on this matter, which is the fact that the Bank has done nothing illegal and accordingly the Bank will continue to provide CBN with documents and details in support of our contention that our actions in relation to these transactions were not illegal.”
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I Am Fully Committed To Mambilla Power Project, Buhari Tells Xi

 
President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration remains committed to the realisation of the Mambilla Hydropower Plant project in Taraba State.
The President said this on Wednesday in Beijing during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, where he sought China’s support to build the 3,050 Megawatts hydropower project.
“I told President Xi that the Mambilla Hydropower Plant is Nigeria’s equivalent of China’s Three Gorges Dam, and that I look forward to him joining me for the groundbreaking ceremony in the not-too-distant future,” he was quoted on his Twitter handle.
President Buhari added, “I am fully committed to the realisation of this landmark project. The Mambilla Hydropower Project remains a key priority for our administration.
“Today in Beijing I asked for President Xi‘s support and intervention, for the project. Our hope is to fund it with concessionary loans from China.”
 
The President told Mr Xi that Nigeria’s submission on the project was being assessed by Chinese agencies and sought his intervention to fast-track the process.
The meeting comes one year after the Nigerian Government approved the construction of Mambilla Hydro-Electric Power plant in the sum of $5.792 billion.
The nod was given at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) held on August 30, 2017, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, had told State House correspondents that the construction of four dams required would take 72 months.
According to him, Nigeria is expected to provide 15 per cent counterpart funding in the joint venture agreement with China.
Meanwhile, President Buhari and Mr Xi met three days after they witnessed the signing of an agreement worth $328m between Nigeria and China for the Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II (NICTIB II) project.
The concessional loan agreement between Galaxy Backbone Limited and Huawei Technologies Limited (HUAWEI) was signed by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adesoun, and the Director-General of International Development Agency, Wang Xiaotoa.
Nigeria and China also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR).
The OBOR is an initiative of the Chinese president which focuses on improving the cooperation among multiple countries spread across the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.
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Buhari Seeks China’s Support For Mambila Power Project

President Muhammadu Buhari
 
President Muhammadu Buhari is counting on support from China to build the 3050 Megawatts Mambila Hydropower Project.
According to the Presidency, the President won the crucial support of his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Beijing on Wednesday.
The President sought the support of the Chinese President for the project while commending him and his government for successfully hosting the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and for the growing relationship between both countries.
“I would like to once again solicit your support for the Mambilla Hydropower Project which remains a key priority for my government,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.
“Our hope is to fund the project with concessionary loans from China as any alternative funding arrangement will adversely impact the project’s viability.”
President Buhari who explained that Nigeria’s submission on the project was being assessed by Chinese agencies is hopeful that the process would be fast-tracked.
“We hope, with your kind intervention, this assessment will be expedited. Your Excellency, Mambilla is Nigeria’s equivalent of the three gorges dam. My wish is that you join me for the ground-breaking ceremony of this project in the not too distant future,” he said.
In response, the Chinese President promised to ensure the project succeeds.
“We understand how critical the project is to your country and we will take a serious look at it and ensure that it succeeds because of its social and economic benefits,” he said.
President Buhari’s request follows the $328m agreement Nigeria and China signed for the Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II (NICTIB II) project.
The concessional loan agreement between Galaxy Backbone Limited and Huawei Technologies Limited (HUAWEI) was signed by Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adesoun, and the Director-General, International Development Agency Wang Xiaotoa, in the presence of President Buhari and Xi Jinping.
Nigeria and China also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR).
The OBOR is an initiative of Xi which focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among multiple countries spread across the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.
While speaking about the growing relationship between both countries, President Buhari also thanked China for accepting to support the international efforts to recharge Lake Chad.
“The inclusion of this project in the FOCAC Action Plan 2019 to 2021 will go a long way in supporting our efforts to rehabilitate and resettle the conflict-impacted North East region,” he said.
Before his meeting with Xi, President Buhari met with Nigerian students and entrepreneurs in China as well as Chinese students who were learning Nigerian languages.
He told Xi he was “very pleased” with his interactions and called for more to be done to foster people-to-people relationships in both countries.
“We must continue to support such exchange programmes to enhance our people-to-people contacts,” he said.
According to him, the easy movement of citizens of both countries would complement the currency swap agreements between both countries.
“Since our last meeting two years ago, Nigeria has relaxed its visa requirements to Chinese citizens. Today, I am pleased to inform Your Excellency that Chinese citizens receive Nigerian visas in less than 48 hours,” President Buhari told Xi.
“Another measure that will improve our trade volumes will be to introduce import duty waivers on Nigeria’s commodity exports to China. Today, our commodities such as sesame seeds, hibiscus, and cassava amongst others attract import duty in China.”
In terms of security, the Chinese President commended Nigeria’s fight against terrorism and the progress that has been made so far.
He promised China’s support in capacity building and intelligence sharing and pledged 50 million Chinese Yuan support to Nigeria’s military.
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FG Asks MTN To Pay Tax Arrears Of $2bn

 
The Federal Government has asked Telecoms giant, MTN to pay back taxes of $2 billion just days after the government ordered it to repatriate $8.13 billion.
In a statement on Tuesday, the company said the Attorney General of the Federation gave “notice of an intention to recover the $2 billion (1.73 billion euros) from MTN Nigeria”.
However, the company rejected the claims, stating that it had fully settled all amounts it owed the government under the taxes in question.
“Based on the detailed review performed, MTN Nigeria believes it has fully settled all amounts owing under the taxes in question,” the company said.
This comes days after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ordered the telecoms firm and four commercial banks to return $8.1 billion to the country.
The apex bank stressed that the sanction was necessary following a breach of the nation’s forex regulation by the parties involved.
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South Africa Enters Technical Recession

 
Africa’s second largest economy, South Africa has entered a technical recession in the second quarter as it contracted 0.77 per cent.
Latest data released on Tuesday by the South African authorities’ shows President Ramaphosa’s six-month-old government posting a negative start like his immediate predecessor, Jacob Zuma.
The country’s Gross Domestic Product was reported at a decline of 2.6 per cent in the first quarter and is the first recession since 2009.
On a year-on-year basis, the South African economy grew 0.4 per cent , but the second quarter GDP came in below Bloomberg’s median estimate for 0.6 percent expansion
The currency rand falls 2.3 per cent to 15.2094 on the US Dollars near lunchtime in Johannesburg on the latest GDP report.
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Adedipe Asks FG To Use ‘Development Intelligence’ For Job Creation

Biodun Adedipe
 
An Economist, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, has asked the Federal Government to use what he described as development intelligence in luring investors into the country.
Adedipe stated this on Friday during an interview on Channels Television’s Business Morning.
“The critical thing for me is development intelligence. Development Intelligence means government at the federal, state and local levels will go out deliberately; identify private operators in priority sectors to offer incentives to come produce in their own jurisdiction,” he said.
 
 

 
According to him, countries like Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, among others, use development intelligence to advance their nation.
“What they do is to go to an already operating manufacturer that is successful and then they approach you and make you an offer to come to their territory,” he explained.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to do the same which he believes will, in turn, create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and provide more jobs for citizens.
Adedipe also asked states to align with the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
 
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Coca-Cola To Buy Coffee Chain Costa For £3.9bn

Credit: Bloomberg
 
Coca-Cola is to buy Costa coffee from leisure group Whitbread in a deal that values the UK high-street chain at £3.9bn including debt.
James Quincey, Coca-Cola president and chief executive said that Costa would give the company, “new capabilities and expertise in coffee and our system can create opportunities to grow the Costa brand worldwide”.
“Hot beverages is one of the few remaining segments of the total beverage landscape where Coca-Cola does not have a global brand. Costa gives us access to this market through a strong coffee platform.”
Whitbread had previously announced it would spin off Costa from the rest of its business, which is focused on the faster-growing Premier Inn hotel brand, after coming under pressure from activist investors.
A “significant majority” of the net cash proceeds of around £3.8bn from the deal will be returned to shareholders, Whitbread said.
AFP
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MTN Reacts To CBN Sanction, Insists Paid Dividends Were Approved

 
Telecommunication giant, MTN Nigeria has reacted to the sanction imposed on it by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In a statement on Thursday, it denied the allegations of illegal funds repatriation levelled against it by the apex bank.
READ ALSO: MTN Shares Dip To Nine-Year Low After CBN Sanction
Contrary to the claims, MTN stated that all dividends paid to shareholders were approved by the nation’s financial regulator in accordance with the law.
The company, however, said it would meet with relevant government agencies to defend its position on the matter.
The CBN had ordered the telecoms firm and four commercial banks to return $8.1 billion to the country.
The apex bank stressed that the sanction was necessary following a breach of the nation’s forex regulation by the parties involved.
In 2015, the Nigerian Telecommunication Commission MTN Nigeria slammed a fine of about N1.04 trillion, which was later reduced to N330 billion, on MTN Nigeria for failing to disconnect 5.2 million unregistered sim cards.
Read the full statement by MTN Nigeria below;
MTN Nigeria Communications Limited received a letter on August 29, 2018, from CBN alleging that Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) issued in respect of the conversion of shareholders loans in MTN Nigeria to preference shares in 2007 had been improperly issued. As a consequence, they claim that historic dividends repatriated by MTN Nigeria between 2007 and 2015 amounting to $8,1 billion need to be refunded to the CBN.
MTN Nigeria strongly refutes these allegations and claims. No dividends have been declared or paid by MTN Nigeria other than pursuant to CCIs issued by our bankers and with the approval of the CBN as required by law.
The issues surrounding the CCIs have already been the subject of a thorough enquiry by the Senate of Nigeria. In September 2016 the Senate mandated the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to carry out a holistic investigation on compliance with the Foreign exchange (monitoring and miscellaneous) Act by MTN Nigeria & Others. In its report issued in November 2017, the findings evidenced that MTN Nigeria did not collude to contravene the foreign exchange laws and there were no negative recommendations made against MTN Nigeria.
MTN Nigeria, as a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria, is committed to good governance and to abiding by the extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The re-emergence of these issues is regrettable as it damages investor confidence and, by extension, inhibits the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
We will engage with the relevant authorities and vigorously defend our position on this matter and provide further information when available.
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