05 Nov

Daily Watch – Rice smuggling on the rise, Lagos robbers dare Ambode

  • Rice smuggling appears to have now reached prohibitive levels, with adverse implications for legal importers and local producers. As legal importers have to pay a 70 percent tariff, they are finding that they cannot compete in a market flooded with smuggled rice on which very little tariff is paid. Stakeholders say that the CBN’s ban of foreign exchange for some imported products including rice, is contributing to a difficult rice market, and encouraging smuggling.
  • The MTN Group Ltd is looking to get the $5.2 billion fine imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reduced by as much as 80 per cent and it is considering borrowing money from banks to help settle the penalty, should its request for fine reduction sail through. According to the head of research, Renaissance Capital, Adesoji Solanke, “MTN is pushing to reduce the fine by 60 per cent to 80 per cent.” Bloomberg also quoted a lender as saying: “MTN is considering borrowing from banks, as it recently checked what the banks’ lending capacity to it is.” The NCC has confirmed that it had received an apology letter from MTN, asking for leniency over the fine. It would proceed to discuss it with the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, where a decision on the matter would be taken. Meanwhile, South African lawmakers are planning to summon MTN Group officials to explain why MTN Nigeria was fined $5.2 billion by the NCC for failing to disconnect customers with unregistered SIM cards. The Chairwoman of South African Parliament’s telecommunications committee, Nkhensani Kubayi, said that “the fine is a worrying issue” that demands explanation from MTN Group. The panel also intends summoning the South African industry regulator to determine whether MTN is compliant with local rules, with hearings likely to take place next year.
  • The Rivers State House of Assembly has ordered investigation into a petition brought before it against the operations of Nigerian Agip Oil Company in Owube community, Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State. A lawmaker representing Ahoada West Constituency, Okpokiri Nwanaka Okpokiri, submitted a three-page petition, asking the House to intervene in the deplorable situation of the Owube community damaged by oil spill in the area. Okpokiri alleged that NOAC had also failed to pay adequate compensation to the people of Owube for the damages caused by oil spill, fire outbreak and gas leakage in the community.
  • Armed robbers on Wednesday attacked motorists along Awolowo Road and Onikan areas of Ikoyi, Lagos. The robbery incidents took place shortly after Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said on his official Twitter handle that he had ordered the police to increase its presence on busy roads in the state. The Lagos State Government on its official Facebook page, subsequently posted a picture of the governor leading a team of policemen and aides on an inspection of some black spots, particularly the Awolowo Road, Ikoyi.