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World Bank Blacklists 18 Nigerians, Firms Over Alleged Corrupt Practices



World Bank Blacklists 18 Nigerians, Firms Over Alleged Corrupt Practices

The World Bank has blacklisted 18 Nigerian individuals and firms for engaging in corrupt practices, fraud and collusive practices, a new report has revealed.

A list of debarred individuals and firms was presented in a new annual report titled, ‘World Bank Group Sanctions System FY21.’

The debarments were made by the World Bank Sanctions Board, World Bank Chief Suspension and Debarment Officer and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The debarments made by AfDB were recognised by the World Bank, making the affected firms to be barred under cross-debarment policy.

Based on the World Bank Sanctions Board’s decision, Mr. Elie Abou Ghazaleh and Mr. Fadi Abou Ghazaleh, alongside their firm, Abou Ghazaleh Contracting Nigeria Limited, were debarred for six months for collusive practices.

Based on the decision of the World Bank Chief Suspension and Debarment Officer, a Nigerian firm, Swansea Tools Resources, was debarred for fraudulent practices for two years and 10 months.

Referred to under Sanctions Case No 651, it was disclosed that the firm misrepresented its past experience in its bid for a road maintenance contract.

“The SDO determined that the respondent, a Nigerian firm, engaged in a fraudulent practice by misrepresenting its past experience in its bid for a road maintenance contract under a state employment and expenditure project in Nigeria. The SDO imposed on the respondent a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of two years and 10 months. As a mitigating factor, the SDO considered the respondent’s limited cooperation with investigators, noting that the respondent produced documents and agreed to be interviewed but did not accept responsibility for the misconduct,” it said.

Another Nigerian firm, Juckon Construction and Allied Services Nigeria Limited, was debarred for three years over corrupt practices. Referred to under Sanctions Case No 649, it was disclosed that the firm made improper payment to a public official.

“The SDO determined that the respondent, a Nigerian firm, engaged in a corrupt practice by making an improper payment to a public official in connection with the award and/or execution of two waste management and refuse collection contracts under a state employment and expenditure project in Nigeria. The SDO imposed on the respondent a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of four years,” the report said.

A Nigerian, Ms. Okafor Glory, was debarred for fraudulent practices for four years, while the firm involved, Unique Concept Enterprises, was debarred for five years for same reason.

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“The matter which involved Ms. Glory and the firm, Unique Concept Enterprises, was presented under Sanctions Case No 691.

“The SDO determined that the respondents, a Nigerian firm and a Nigerian citizen, engaged in fraudulent practices by submitting false documents in connection with two refuse collection and disposal contracts under a state employment and expenditure project in Nigeria. In particular, the SDO found that: (i) the corporate respondent submitted a falsified income tax clearance certificate in its bids for the contracts; and (ii) both respondents submitted a falsified advance payment guarantee in connection with the execution of one of the contracts.

“The SDO imposed on the corporate respondent a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of five years. On the individual respondent, the SDO imposed a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of four years. As aggravating factors, the SDO considered that (i) the corporate respondent engaged in a repeated pattern of misconduct, and (ii) the individual respondent was the managing director of the corporate respondent,” it said.

Another Nigerian firm, Asbeco Nigeria Limited, was debarred for five years for corrupt practices.The matter which involved Asbeco Nigeria was presented under Sanctions Case No 675.

“The SDO determined that the respondent, a Nigerian firm, engaged in corrupt practices in connection with an erosion control contract under an erosion and watershed management project in Nigeria.

Specifically, the SDO found that the respondent (i) made a payment of N2m (approximately $12,000) to the project’s engineer to influence his actions in connection with the procurement and/or execution of the contract, and (ii) made a facilitation payment of N50,000 (approximately $160) to the project’s cashier to influence her actions in connection with the execution of the same contract.

“The SDO imposed on the respondent a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of five years. In determining this sanction, the SDO considered as aggravating factors the respondent’s (i) engagement in a repeated pattern of corrupt activity and (ii) interference with INT’s investigation, noting in particular that the respondent engaged in acts intended to materially impede the exercise of the Bank’s contractual audit rights,” the report stated.

Based on the World Bank’s Sanctions Board Decision, A.G. Vision Construction Nigeria Limited, was debarred for fraudulent practices and collusive practices for four years and six months.

Not included in the report is a recent debarment of a Nigerian consultant, Mr Salihu Tijani, who is a consultant for the National Social Safety Nets Project- a project designed to ensure cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households in Nigeria.
Tijani was barred for 38 months for engaging in corrupt practices.

Aside from the firms mentioned, there are some firms that were debarred by other multilateral organisations under cross-debarment, which made them to be debarred by the World Bank.

Sangtech International Services Limited; Sangar & Associates (Nigeria) Limited; Mashad Integrated and Investment Co Limited; and Medniza Global Merchants Limited were debarred by the AfDB for two years under cross-debarment recognised by the World Bank.

ALG Global Concept Nigeria Limited; Abuharaira Labaran Gero; Qualitrends Global Solutions Nigeria Limited; and Maxicare Company Nigeria Limited were debarred by the AfDB for three years under cross-debarment recognised by the World Bank.

In his opening message in the report, the President of World Bank Group, David Malpass, stated that the bank had granted over $157 billion to assist developing countries, emphasising the need for integrity and transparency standards in public finance.

“Since the beginning of the global pandemic, the World Bank Group has deployed more than $157bn in critical assistance to developing countries. The crisis has required us to be rapid and innovative in mobilising this historic support.

“Yet, for these resources to have the needed development impact on the hundreds of millions of people who live in extreme poverty, we must ensure that resources are used efficiently, effectively, and for their intended purposes. And that means remaining vigilant to the scourge of corruption and ensuring that we promote the highest integrity and transparency standards in public finance,” he said.

He further highlighted some of the consequences of corruption, which he said could be devastating.
“The negative impacts of corruption on lives and livelihoods are well known. Corruption diverts scarce development dollars from the people who need them most and corrodes the systems and services that are integral for reducing extreme poverty.

“Entrenched corruption also comes with greater economic costs for countries, as it distorts public expenditures and leads to inefficient allocations of financing away from productive investments toward rent-seeking activities. And corruption increases the costs of doing business and deters foreign investors from entering new markets.

“As the world moves toward recovering from the pandemic’s damaging impacts, these costs can also restrict the private sector, which plays an important role in revitalizing economic growth and development in our client countries,” Malpass added.


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BREAKING: Old N200, N500, N1,000 Notes Remain Legal Tender Till Dec 31 – CBN



In compliance with a ruling of the Supreme Court, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has declared that old N200, N500, N1,000 banknotes remain legal tender till December 31, 2023.

The apex bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin spoke in a statement on Monday. This is coming 10 days after the Supreme Court ruled that old naira notes should co-exist with new ones till the end of the year.

“In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.

“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.

“Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” the statement read.

The highest court of the land had on March 3 ordered that old N200, N500 and N1000 notes remain valid till December 31, 2023.

This was after 16 states of the federation instituted a suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy.

The 16 states led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara had prayed the apex court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.

The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari’s disobedience of its February 8 order is a sign of dictatorship, adding that the President breached the Constitution of the Federation in the way he issued directives for the re-designing of the Naira by the CBN.

After the March 3 judgement by the Supreme Court, the Presidency, CBN and the AGF kept mum, throwing many bank customers and Nigerians into confusion as the ruling of the apex court contradicted the directive of the President on February 16 that old N500 and N1000 notes are banned and old N200 notes remain valid till April 10.

However, the Presidency broke its silence on Monday, saying the President never told the CBN and the AGF not to obey the order of the apex court.

“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President,” the Presidency noted.

According to the Presidency, the President is an absolute respecter of the rule of law and that the “negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust.”

The CBN had extended the deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 from January 31 to February 10 following complaints by many Nigerians but the Supreme Court, after a suit filed by the states, held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the February 10 deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue.

However, the President, in a national broadcast on February 16, directed the apex bank to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days — by April 10, 2023. He also said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes cease to be legal tender in Nigeria.

There has been a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms against the President’s directive including from governors of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Ganduje (Kano); Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and many stalwarts of the ruling APC have openly censured and faulted the President’s directive, arguing that it has no grounds because the case is before the apex court.

Leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome have equally faulted the President’s move, saying he cannot overrule the apex court of the land.

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CBN Asked Banks To Receive Old Naira Notes – Soludo



BREAKING: How Nigerians Keeping N2.7 Trillion At Home, Others Caused Naira Redesign - Emefiele
CBN Governor Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has asked commercial banks to dispense and accept old naira notes as deposits, according to Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo.

Soludo, a former CBN governor, made this known in a statement he posted on his social media handles.
He explained that the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele gave the directive at a Banker’s Committee meeting on Sunday.

He added that Emefiele personally confirmed the directive to him.
According to him, residents should report banks refusing to accept the old notes.

“Commercial banks have been directed by the Central Bank to dispense old currency notes and also to receive the same deposits from customers. Tellers at commercial banks are to generate the codes for deposits, and there is no limit to the number of times an individual or company can make deposits.”

“The Governor of the CBN gave the directive at a Bankers’ Committee meeting held on Sunday, 12th March 2023. The Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele, personally confirmed the above to me during a phone conversation on Sunday night. Residents of Anambra are therefore advised to freely accept and transact their businesses with the old currency notes (N200, N500; and N1,000) and the new notes”, the statement added.

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Elon Musk Reclaims Title As World’s Richest Man



Nigeria Approves Elon Musk's Starlink As Internet Service Provider
Elon Musk

Months after losing the title of the world’s richest man, Elon Musk has regained it.

A rally in Tesla’s stock price on Monday boosted the Twitter owner’s net worth by nearly $7bn to $187bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Musk’s recovery of the top spot from the French luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault follows a precipitous drop in his wealth in late 2022, when he became the first person ever to amass and then lose $200bn. His wealth peaked at about $340bn in November 2021 and fell to about $128bn at the start of 2023.

Musk’s personal wealth primarily derives from stock in Tesla. The electric carmaker lost nearly two-thirds of its value in 2022, amid investor concerns over weakening demand, Musk’s distracting purchase of Twitter and the tumultuous start to his tenure atop the social media platform.

While Musk’s troubles at Twitter continue, having reportedly fired an additional 200 employees over the weekend after already slashing the workforce from 7,500 to about 2,000 since October, the share price of Tesla has risen nearly 90% since the start of 2023.

On Wednesday, the company will hold its annual Investor Day at its factory in Austin, Texas, and Musk is expected to discuss future products, including the long-promised Cybertruck and Semi Truck, along with plans to expand its production infrastructure around the world.

One such plan was previewed on Tuesday, when the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said Musk had promised him by phone that Tesla will build a new factory in the city of Monterrey.

“This is going to mean a considerable investment and many, many jobs,” López Obrador said.

Tesla already has plants in China and Germany, and analysts suggest it may expand to Canada as well as Indonesia.

The carmaker continues facing challenges, however, including increased scrutiny of its driver assistance technology. It announced a recall of 362,000 vehicles on 16 February after regulators said its Full Self-Driving Beta software did not follow traffic laws.

Shareholders filed another lawsuit on Monday against Musk alleging that Tesla’s repeated exaggeration of its self-driving capabilities amounted to fraud.

Musk also keeps courting controversy through his erratic and provocative behavior online. After lifting bans on white supremacists, neo-Nazis and QAnon conspiracy theorists on Twitter, the billionaire has curried favor with rightwing trolls and activists.

On Monday, he threw his support behind Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist whose racist rant in a recent YouTube appearance has led to the cancellation of his comic strip in US newspapers.

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