- The Presidency said Boko Haram freed 13 hostages Saturday after authorities negotiated their release with the Islamist militants. Three of the hostages were lecturers from the University of Maiduguri who were abducted while on an oil exploration trip in Magumeri, Borno in July 2017. The other 10 were women police officers kidnapped in a raid on a convoy the previous month. “Their release followed a series of negotiations as directed by President (Muhammadu) Buhari and was facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC,” a presidency spokesman said in an emailed statement. The ICRC said it had acted as a neutral intermediary in the hostage release.
- The FG will reintroduce excise duty on some goods manufactured in the country and excisable imported goods in line with the directive of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers. The Cable reports that a letter from Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun to President Muhammadu Buhari said spaghetti and noodles would be exempted from the changes. Adeosun said noodles and spaghetti were exempted on the fact that “they currently constitute significant staple and accessible foods, which are easily affordable by all economic class of the Nigerian society”. The minister had suggested that all excisable products removed from the excise list in 2009 be returned. The excise duty is five percent. Excise duty is a type of tax paid on goods manufactured in a country. According to a list on the NCS website, excisable goods include perfumes, cosmetics, non-alcoholic beverages, fruit juice, soap and detergent, telephone recharge cards, corrugated paper or paperboard and toilet paper.
- The bankers’ committee says commercial banks will no longer charge customers commission on retail foreign exchange transactions, including the purchase of forex for PTA and BTA, school fees and medicals. FSDH Merchant Bank CEO, Hamda Ambah said the decision was reached at the committee’s meeting last week. The CBN had directed commercial banks to make forex available for BTA, tuition and medical fees at not more than ₦360/$ in a bid to reduce the pressure on the naira. “One of the things we discussed was a measure that would provide some sort of palliative for all individuals in the country to at least enjoy the benefit,” Ambah said. In a related development, the CBN’s director of banking supervision, Ahmed Abdullahi said the country’s external reserves stand at $42 billion, higher than $40.4 billion in December and the highest since December 2013.
- African miner Thor Explorations will most likely choose London’s junior AIM market to list its shares this year in its bid to raise up to $35 million, its CEO said on Friday. Thor, which is already listed in Toronto’s TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V), will use the proceeds of the new listing mainly to fund its Segilola Gold Project in Nigeria. The company also has two gold projects in Senegal and Burkina Faso. “AIM is the front runner but we are not closing any doors,” Chief Executive Segun Lawson told Reuters, adding London was preferred because it had a large pool of investors and an appetite for resource firms with projects in Nigeria. He said other options involved listing in Australia or Johannesburg or upgrading to the main board in Toronto. Thor wanted to raise $30 million to $35 million via a listing at the start of the fourth quarter, The Segilola project was expected to start production in 12 to 15 months after the planned listing.
- The NCAA said reports of an alleged burglary attempt on the cargo hold of an Air Peace aircraft on the Runway 18R of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos are untrue. In a statement signed by its spokesman, Sam Adurogboye, the agency said the conclusion was arrived at after it reviewed all the reports from the relevant agencies concerning the incident and found them unproven. An Air Peace pilot had on 8 February aborted a flight to Abuja and alerted the Lagos control tower that the aircraft’s cargo compartment had been opened. The pilot said he noticed that the cargo compartment light came on for 15 seconds and went off, meaning that someone had opened the compartment’s door. “On full speed, with the full lights on, no person was found within the vicinity of the aircraft,” the statement read in part. “Importantly, the Arik aircraft, which was in queue immediately after the Air Peace aircraft, was similarly put on observation at this point.” Air Peace spokesman Chris Iwarah said the NCAA’s report was a lazy and shoddy job without elaborating.