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US court denies Ogun state governor’s aide, Abidemi Rufai, bail over Alleged $350k fraud

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US court denies Ogun state governor's aide, Abidemi Rufai, bail over Alleged $350k fraud

A federal magistrate in New York has dismissed the bail application of Abidemi Rufai, a Senior Special Assistant to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, who was arrested last Friday, May 14 for allegedly committing $350,000 employment fraud in Washington.

Gistflash learnt that the 42-year-old man was arrested at the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York while attempting to flee the country. A statement released by the US Department of Justice alleged that Rufai used pseudo names like Sandy Tang and the stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with Employment Security Department for unemployment benefits during the COVID19 pandemic last year.

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Rufai made his initial appearance last Saturday in New York and he appeared for a detention hearing on Wednesday May 18, where he appealed to the judge to release him to the custody of his brother, Alaba Rufai, who is an attorney in New York.

His private attorney, Michael Barrows of Garden City, said Rufai’s brother however told the court he could not afford the $300,000 “surety” bond that he would have been required to post to ensure that Abidemi appeared for his trial.

As a result, Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes ordered Abidemi Rufai to be detained and taken to the Western District of Washington.

Rufai risks 30 years in prison if found guilty of wire fraud.

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Economy

Forex: Financial expert urges CBN to exercise caution on BDCs ban

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By Gistflash News

July 28, 2021

A Financial Expert, Mr Okechukwu Unegbu, has urged the Central Bank  of Nigeria (CBN) to be cautious of its recent “blanket’’  ban placed  on Bureau de Change (BDC) operators from foreign exchange (forex) trading.

Unegbu, a past President of the Chattered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said that the ban would create some challenges in the market as commercial banks might not be able to meet the forex demands of importers.

According to Unegbu, commercial banks themselves are not perfect, as some of them also flout forex regulations.

“This punitive measure by the CBN can negatively affect the forex trading market.

“Most businessmen, when they cannot access forex from commercial banks, rush to the BDCs.

“Banks are not perfect, they also bend the rule sometimes, but that of the BDCs became so obvious  due to their large numbers.

“The Naira has been so bastardised and it is good to see that the CBN is acting to remedy the situation,’’ he said.

Unegbu said that athough some of the BDCs were involved in unwholesome practice there were still some BDCs that operated above board.

He said that the move by the apex bank was only a step toward resolving the abuse in the forex market and to reduce pressure on the Naira.

“There had been a lot of misgivings about forex in the country but this blanket ban by the CBN is just a step towards the solution.

“Not all the BDCs are bad, but as it is now CBN has banned both the good and he bad.

“But it is a warning to the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON).

“ABCON should find a way to make amends and reign in on some of the operators that abuse the system,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the CBN announced immediate discontinuation of forex to the BDCs.

CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, who made the announcement during the banks 280th Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, said that the BDC operators were involved in rent-seeking behaviour money laundering activities.

Emefiele added that BDCs were to serve the retail end users who needed 5,000 dollars or less, but had defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to retail user.

He also said that BDCs had instead become wholesale and illegal dealers.

NAN

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Economy

Africa to save $5bn annually through payment, settlement platform- AfCFTA Sec-Gen

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By Gistflash News

July 9, 2021

Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) said that the launch of the Pan-African Payments and Settlements System (PAPSS) would save the continent an estimated five billion dollars annually.

Mr Wamkele Mene, AfCFTA Secretary General, who revealed this at the 2nd edition of the AfCFTA secretariat quarterly press briefing on Friday, said this would be from the accruals from conversions to dollars.

He said that PAPSS, created in collaboration with the African Export-Import Bank (Afriexim bank), would address the currency conversion challenges for participating countries.

PAPSS is a centralised payment and settlement system created to serve the purpose of low cost and risk controlled payment clearing and settlement system under intra-African trade.

He said that six countries had been set up for the pilot scheme, some of which include; Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

Mene projected that by the end of 2021, the secretariat would be in a position to reveal the platform availability for all countries to switch.

“There is an objective that one day, Africa would be a monetary union.

“Converting the about 42 currencies in Africa with its attendant cost of over five billion dollars yearly is a whole lot and so we want to reduce and eliminate this for the purpose of trading.

“Local banks would be able to switch to the platform as we are in consultation with the central banks and by the end of the year, we would be in a position to say the platform is available for all African countries that want to switch to it.

“Afriexim bank has invested over one billion dollars and it is a strong signal that the AfCFTA would work.

“If you run a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) and you have to use a foreign platform for transaction, it is constraining and costly.

“With this system of payments, we would be able to enhance the effectiveness and competitiveness of SME as it addresses the constraints and costs associated with trade,” he said.

Mene also noted that the Rules of Origin mechanism of trade was at 86 per cent completion, even though the secretariat was gearing for 90 per cent completion before application.

Mene also stated that sensitisation and advocacy campaigns on the intricacies of the AfCFTA were a shared responsibility between participating states and the AfCFTA secretariat.

He revealed that an Africa business forum for the whole continent would be hosted later in the year to raise additional awareness.

This, Mene, said would also serve as a complementary step to what the various participating countries’ governments were already doing nationally on sensitisation.

“It is very important that the private sector is aware that there are export opportunities that this market creates and how they can maximally benefit from it.

“In all my visits to various participating countries, I have met with the private sector as a way to inform and incorporate them into what the AfCFTA is about,” he said.

NAN

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Economy

Over 750,000 persons embrace family planning in Taraba – TCI

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By Gistflash News

July 8, 2021

The Taraba  Director of The Challenge Initiative (TCI), Dr Sarki Othman, has disclosed that over 750,000 new persons have embraced family planning in the state in the last three years.
Othman disclosed this in Jalingo on Thursday during a media roundtable  on sustaining and advancing the gains of family planning in Taraba.
He said  the achievement was made possible through deliberate efforts at sensitisation and enlightenment carried out during the period, but noted that a lot more needed to be done.
`’Let me commend  members of the press for the good work you are doing in enlightening the people on the positive impact of family planning.
`’Through your joint efforts with other partners, we have recorded tremendous improvement in the number of new acceptors of family planning in the state.
“Of course you know that the services are basically free but most people were reluctant to access the services due to certain misconceptions. These have been largely corrected.
`’We hope to continue our advocacies to ensure reasonable budgetary allocations and disbursement to the cause.
“We encourage opinion leaders to continue to enlighten the people so that this project is sustained beyond the stay of the TCI and other partners in the state,” the director said.
He explained that based on the baseline survey carried out in the state in 2015, 5.6 per cent was the prevalence usage of modern contraceptives.
According to him, by 2018 the use of the commodity had risen to more than 8.6 per cent.
He said said emphasis had continued to be laid on women of reproductive age and sensitising teenagers on life planning.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the  meeting is the second media roundtable toward advancing family planning in the state under the TCI which will be rounding up the project in the eight pilot local government areas of Taraba in 2021.
The pilot local government areas are: Jalingo, Ardo-Kola, Gassol, Gashaka, Wukari, Sardauna, Zing and Bali.
NAN

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