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NIGERIA: POS operator sues UPSL, CBN, banks over N2.6m non-remittant profit

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An operator of Point of Sale (POS) machine under the business registered name, Twistwell Multiventures, Mr Joseph Okodua, has charged a payment system service provider in Nigeria, Unified Payment Services Limited (UPSL) to court for non -remittant profit of N2.6million.

Twistwell Multiventures brokered business transaction agreement with Unified Payment Services Limited in which POS machine in its possession for operations and with the understanding that each transaction carried out on each POS shall be settled by unified payment.

The crisis began around 2017 when both parties had disagreement over remittance to Twistwell Multi ventures by Unified Payment Services Limited. Following this development of the petition, Unified Payment Services wrote the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and later to the Police Special Fraud Unit to resolve the issue, but this could not be resolved as there was a pending case between the two parties in court. Meanwhile, Joseph alleged that the invitation of CBN and Police to the matter is to witch hunt and frustrate him from further fighting for his right in the law court.

Joseph, the owner of Twistwell Multiventures has initially sued Unified Payment Services Limited for non-remittance of N2.6million at a High Court, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state in suit number HC/01/2018. Joseph who was a former student of Tai Solarin University where he started the business as an undergraduate student added that after CBN intervention who influenced his banks to lock his accounts, sued the CBN in a suit number FHC/IB/CS/43/2018, at Federal High Courts, Ibadan, Oyo state,  and lastly at a Federal High Court of Nigeria, Abeokuta, Ogun state, in a suit number FHC/AB/FHR/21/2019, where he sued the police and Unified Payment Services Limited for violation of his human rights.

In the documents made available to journalists, Unified Payment services Limited (UPSL) had written a letter to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to help adjudicate over a matter involving it and Twistwell Multiventures. The apex bank then invited the two parties to a meeting in Lagos, through a letter with reference number BPS/PSP/GEN/CWO/08/368 and dated December 18, 2017.

Mr. Joseph further noted that he was surprised when he received another letter with reference number BPS/PSP/GEN/CWO/09/076, dated February 22, 2018, informing him that he frustrated all means to resolve the crisis, only to accuses him of fraudulent practice without hearing from his side.

The lawyer to Twistwell Multiventures in a reply to that petition expressed its amazement at another action taken by the CBN, thus coveted its client’s position in a reply dated April 3rd, 2018 titled “Re-petition by Unified Payment Services Limited against Twistwell Multiventures” to the Director, Banking and Payments Systems Department, Centre Bank of Nigeria, (CBN),15th floor, CBN, Lagos office.

In the letter, Twistwell lawyer expressed its surprise at the step taken by the CBN which it described as ‘self-help’ by instructing that Mr. Joseph accounts in United Bank for Africa (UBA) Abeokuta branch, Ogun State, Stanbic IBTC bank, Ijebu-Ode branch, Ogun state, and four other banks, be severed.

The letter reads: “recall that at the meeting of February 2nd, 2018 which you convoked, a legal practitioner who represented our chambers on behalf of our client (Twistwell Multi ventures) wherein you were duly informed of a ending case involving our client and the petitioner as stated in your letter of February 22, 2018.

“We were surprised that despite the information passed to you, you went ahead and carried out an act which amounted to self-help on behalf of Unified Payment Services Limited by instructing that our client’s bank account be placed on restrictions, without any Court Order. Hence, access to those accounts are denied.”

The lawyer who attached the advance copies of the court processes to inform the CBN that “self-help has no place in our laws. It is the duty of court to resolve dispute not that of the CBN and there is need for the CBN to maintain the status quo.”

The letter also advised CBN to revert its actions on the account restrictions pending the determination of the suit at the Federal High Court, though the advice is yet to be carried out as the two accounts remained restricted.

Meanwhile, it could be recalled that the two banks, Stanbic IBTC bank and UBA, in separate letters dated March 23,2018 and March 27, 2018, respectively, informed the owner of Twistwell Multiventures, Mr. Joseph, their obedience to that order. Other four banks did not officially notified Joseph before locking his accounts.

In another reply against the petition letter written to the Police Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Lagos, on a petition against Mr. Joseph by the lawyer of Twistwell Multiventure on December 19, 2018, problem arises sometimes in year 2017 when Unified Payment failed to settle transaction between it and Twistwell Multi ventures to the tune of N2.6million.

The letter detailed the crisis to have started around 2017 when “issues of prompt settlement by Unified Payment arose of which Twistwell Multiventures became uncomfortable. Complaints were raised by Twistwell Multiventures via e-mails which was the means of exchanging correspondence by both parties.

“Things got to a head when Unified Payment failed and or refused to settle transaction of which the total settlement was N2.6million. At this point, Twistwell stopped using Unified Payment Services Limited (UPSL) POS and when UPS realised this, it was at that point that they informed Twistwell that they have erroneously over settled it and that was the reason they did not settle it of the N2.6million.

“Twistwell Multi ventures refused to accept this line of argument, hence, it instituted a civil action against UPS.

Meanwhile, Twistwell Multi ventured averred that alleged erroneous over-settlement was a dubious attempt not to remit the non-remittant N2.6million to its account according to the agreement of service with the payment system service provider, Unified Payment Services Limited (UPSL).

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Dugbe market inferno: ‘Cause of fire unknown, what we have lost are not quantifiable’ – Victim

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One of the major victims of the Wednessday’s Dugbe market fire incident in Ibadan, Mr. Dapo David, has disclosed that the major cause of the inferno was not yet known, contrary to speculations that it occurred while a welder was working on partitioning of one of the shops.

Dapo made this disclosure on Thursday, when the Oyo state governor, Engr Seyi Makinde  visited the scene.

According to the victim, “Concerning the cause of the incident, people will say all sorts of things, don’t mind them. No welder will come here without my consent, even the tenants. We cannot say specifically the cause of the fire outbreak.

“Most of the shops were under lock, as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. That caused the high rate of destruction. If the shops were not locked, it would not have been much. On what we have lost here, they are not quantifiable for now.”

Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Makinde commiserated with the victims of the Dugbe inferno and promised to get to the roots of the incident.

The governor, who described the incident as unfortunate and heartbreaking, maintained that the State would find means, despite the challenges occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, to give palliatives to those that were affected by the inferno.

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He, however, stated that there was the need for the State to have a Disaster Management Endowment Fund that will address such unforeseen contingencies.

He said: “I commiserate with the people that are affected. At such a time like this, this is the least of the things that we expect because we still are battling with COVID-19 and its social and economic impacts.

“So, we believe there is a need for the State to have an endowment fund for disasters. If such an endowment exists, right now, we would have given an immediate palliative to the people concerned.

“Meanwhile, we will try our best to see what we can do within the challenges we are facing.”

The governor said that at a time the State is still fighting to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, such an unfortunate occurrence like the Dugbe fire disaster was surely going to overstretch the state government.

He also admonished shop owners and residents of the State to always apply precautions and safety measures within their environments so as to avert unforeseen circumstances.

Earlier, the South-West Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Silaku Lugard had told the people that NEMA would liaise with the Federal Road Maintenance Agency to do an assessment of items lost and provide the necessary assistance for the victims.

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He said: “As soon as I finish my own assessment, I will do my own recommendation based on what I have seen and send to them (in Abuja).  And I can assure you that I will never send an assessment that they won’t work on. So, they will surely work on it.

“I want to console all of them, particularly the man who owns a pure water company. He has lost so many millions. I know that it is difficult for the government to really give back all they have lost, but I wish that God will provide ways for them to start and come back to life.

“We, on our own part, will liaise with FERMA to see how we can do some awareness creation and bring some insurance company to work with them so that they won’t start all over again.”

 

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Dangote Fertiliser commences pre-testing of $2bn plant ahead of inauguration

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Dangote Fertiliser Limited has begun countdown to the inauguration of its $2 billion Granulated Urea Fertiliser  complex located in the Dangote Free Zone.

With a capacity of 3 million tonnes per annum, the plant has been classified as the biggest project in the entire fertiliser industry history in the World. Siapem of Italy is the Engineering, Procurement and Supervision (EP) Contractor for the project, while Tata Consulting Engineers, India, is the Project Management Consultants (PMC) for the project.

At this time, several critical sections of the plant are going through various stages of pre-commissioning and test-run. Virtually all the section of the plant such as Central Control Room, Ammonia and Urea Bulk Storage, Cooling Tower, Power Generator Plant, Granulation Plant, have all been completed and are going through pre-testing.

Already, Dangote Feritiser has started receiving gas supply from the Nigerian Gas Company and Chevron Nigeria Limited under the Gas Sale and Purchase was Agreement to supply 70 million standard cubic feet per day (Scf/d) of natural gas to Dangote Fertiliser Limited.

The project, which will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in construction and related fields, will provide a major boost to the agricultural sector by significantly reducing the importation of fertiliser in Nigeria and ultimately removing the need for imports when plant is in full production.

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Group Executive Director, Strategy, Portfolio Development & Capital Projects, Dangote Industries Limited,  Devakumar Edwin said Nigeria will be able to save $0.5billion from import substitution and provide $0.4 billion from exports of products from the fertiliser plant. “Thus, the supply of fertiliser from the plant, will be enough for the Nigerian market and neighbouring countries,” he said.

Edwin said:  “I am happy that by the time our plant is fully commissioned, the country will become self sufficient in fertiliser production and even have the capacity to export the products to other African countries. Right now, farmers are forced to utilise whatever fertiliser that is available as they have no choice, but we need to know that the fertiliser that will work in one State may not be suitable in another State, as they may not have the same soil type and composition. The same fertiliser you use for sorghum may not be the fertiliser you will use for sugar cane.”

He stated that the Dangote fertiliser project, which is estimated to gulp $2billion is the largest granulated Urea fertiliser complex to emerge in the entire fertiliser industry history in the world, with its three million tonnes per annum capacity.

He pointed out that the fertiliser complex, which is sited on 500 hectares of land has the capacity to expand as it is only occupying a small fraction of the allotted portion.

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Edwin added: “The management of the complex are confident that the fertiliser business will deliver reasonable profit to the company and its shareholders as it is projected that population growth and the need for food production will jack up the consumption of Urea fertiliser beginning from 2020 when production of the production would have commenced in earnest.

“The current consumption of Urea estimated at a dismal 700,000 tonnes per annum by Nigerian farmers is said to be due to very poor usage and is believed to be the cause of poor product yield, which threatens food security in the country.

“By 2020, Nigerian population is projected to increase to about 207 million which would lead to increased food production. Estimates points out that around five million tonnes of fertilisers are required per year in Nigeria in the next five to seven years bifurcated into 3.5 million tonnes  of Urea and 1.5 million tonnes of NPK while current production levels in Nigeria are at 1.6 million tonnes by 2019.”

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Dangote boosts South East economy with N63billion investment

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Dangote Group has in the last five years invested over N63bn in the South East with the purchase of over 3,500 units of locally assembled Shacman trucks at the production plant of Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO), Enugu.

The order was delivered over a period of five years after Dangote Group signed an agreement with Transit Support Services (TSS), a subsidiary of ABC Transport PLC.

The partnership started in 2016 with an initial order of 350 Trucks by Dangote and as of today no fewer than 3,500 trucks have been supplied to Dangote from the ANAMMCO plant. Each of the trucks costs over N18m.

Apart from being the single largest buyer of the locally assembled trucks, the patronage by Dangote Group has revived the ANAMMCO plant, a vehicle assembly facility commissioned in 1980 by the Federal Government in partnership with Mercedes Benz.

Speaking at the weekend after a tour of the expansive ANAMMCO plant which was filled with Dangote trucks undergoing semi knocked down (SKD) production, Chairman of TSS, Mr. Frank Nneji said if not for Dangote’s magnanimity and his commitment to empower local manufacturers, the ANAMMCO plant would have remained perpetually moribund.

According to him, the revival of ANAMMCO was made possible by Dangote’s patronage “in identifying a plant that has capacity in the south-east, in Enugu to give us the opportunity to produce trucks locally instead of importing them.”

He said, “And of course you know what it does for us here in the South East. For more than seven years this plant was shut down. There was no activity here until we made an agreement with Shacman group and started skeletally. But we were only to start full step production when we offered the logistics solutions to Dangote and the production facility of ANAMMCO way back in 2016. That was the time we signed agreement for the first 500 units of trucks.”

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Nneji who added that 90 per cent of trucks produced at ANAMMCO plant were for Dangote said the patronage has also brought back Onne Port in Rivers State which he disclosed has handled over 3000 containers since ANAMMCO was resuscitated.

He said, “ANAMMCO like I told you is a plant that was commissioned in 1980 by the Federal Government, it used to be in collaboration with Mercedes Benz. Of course you know what has happened to the auto industry. We had gone down over a long period prior to the inception of the automotive policy.

“What we are saying in ANAMMCO coming back is actually as a result of this auto policy. This is one of the benefits. And the second thing is the benefit of Dangote’s patronage in identifying a plant that has capacity in the south-east, in Enugu to give us the opportunity to produce trucks locally instead of importing them.

“And of course you know what it does for us here in the South East.

For more than seven years this plant was shut down. There was no activity here until we made an agreement with Shacman group and started skeletally. But we were only to start full step production when we offered the logistics solutions to Dangote and the production facility of ANAMMCO way back I 2016. That was the time we signed agreement for the first 500 units of trucks.

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“What this initial capacity surge did was to ensure that all the staff of ANAMMCO who had been at home had to come back to work. Some local suppliers, lubricants, electrolytes and the rest of them also had to come back to doing business. And it goes even further than that because we are in Enugu, we used the Onne Ports to bring in these goods. You know many people are complaining that Onne Port is moribund, no good is coming. Of course we directed all the containers here and from 2016 up till now courtesy of Dangote, the Onne Port has handled more than 3000 containers coming to this place.

“So you see how we can spur capacity by utilizing our local capacity that is available and this is courtesy of Dangote and the patronage and each time we had approached Dangote, we said, ‘look if you are going to do this number of trucks, it is important that the Shacman apart from its quality, we are also representing a firm that has production capacity in the South East in the stake of ANAMMCO.’ That is how Dangote is keeping the South East automobile sector working.

“According to the National Automotive Policy, Enugu and Nnewi has been designated as the automotive centre for the South East in this axis. This is because of the stay of ANAMMCO over a period. They have acquired a lot of technical capacity. There is also a training school that produces technicians, training young school leavers here.

“So this is what we are doing here. This place is busy producing quality trucks with Dangote as the largest single patron. 90 per cent of the trucks produced here are for Dangote.

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“Totally here we have done 3,500 units for Dangote. Additionally the trucks used at the refinery are also Shacman trucks. Because of the quality of Shacman trucks Dangote also patronizes that for the refinery.”

General Manager, Media, Dangote Group, Mr. Sunday Esan said the group is satisfied with the Shacman Trucks churned out from Onne Ports, adding that the partnership would last for a long time as the group continues to expand across its various business segments.

Esan added that as the Dangote refinery comes on stream, the group would require more trucks hence the sustained relationship with TSS/ANAMMCO.

According to him, the massive investment in the south-east is contrary to the assumption that Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the President/CEO of Dangote Group is not patronizing local manufacturers.

“This is why he agreed we should come and see how ANAMMCO plant has come alive, the impact he has made in the country and the employment this patronage has generated,” he said.

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