Gunmen killed Funke Olakunrin, a daughter of the leader of Afenifere (a pan Yoruba cultural group), Reuben Fasoranti on Friday, 12 July. Mrs Olakunrin was shot close to Ore along the Benin-Sagamu expressway. The assailants reportedly fired shots sporadically at her vehicle. The Ondo police said that the attack was carried out by kidnappers who also engage in armed robbery, and added that three other vehicles including a luxury bus belonging to the Young Shall Grow Motors were attacked by the assailants. Femi Joseph, the spokesman for the Ondo state police, said that three people who were kidnapped during the incident have been rescued, while a fourth person whom he named as Gerald Igboroka had not yet been found.

A Turkish cargo ship was attacked by armed pirates off the coast of Nigeria early Tuesday with 10 sailors, all Turkish nationals, taken hostage for ransom. A statement from the ship operator Kadıoğlu Maritime, the ship, Paksoy-1, was sailing without freight from Cameroon’s port city of Douala to Abidjan, Ivory Coast when the pirates boarded the ship in the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. The 8,900 deadweight-ton Turkish-flagged ship was attacked 230km off the town of Brass and communication and navigation equipment were damaged. No injuries or loss of life occurred at the time of the report, as 10 out of 18 crew members were held by the pirates, Operations Manager Numan Paksoy told Anadolu Agency. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry and National Intelligence Agency were aware of the incident, Ömer Çelik, spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party, told reporters during a press conference.

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has awarded damages of over ₦5.5 billion against the Nigerian Customs Service and the Chairman of its Board over the unlawful seizure of 90 containers of rice imported by a firm, Maggpiy Trading TFZE. Maggpiy, in its suit marked FHC/CA/CS/40/2017, stated that officials of the NCS invaded and sealed up its warehouse in the Tinapa Free Trade Zone, Calabar on 18 March 2017, and in addition to sealing its warehouse with its content, Customs officials stole part of the seized rice. Added to that, the Customs detained 40 of its trucks along the Onne-Port Harcourt Road. These trucks had 317 transit containers of rice, destined for the Tinapa Free Trade Zone, and were seized for 120 days without lawful justification. Delivering judgement, Justice Inyang Ekwo upheld Maggpiy’s claims and held that the Customs Service, acted unlawfully and without any justification in law. He also faulted the claim that they acted under the Federal Ministry of Finance Import Guidelines, Procedures and Documentation Requirements under the Destination Inspection Scheme in Nigeria. Justice Ekwo also faulted the defendant’s argument that they were exempted, under the Customs and Excise Management Act, from any liability and prosecution while applying the provisions of the law.

Only a hundred customers of Deposit Money Banks borrowed the sum of ₦7.44 trillion in Q1 2019, representing about 47.43 per cent of the ₦15.21 trillion in loans granted to the entire economy during the three-month period. 1.88 million customers borrowed the balance of ₦7.76 trillion. Customers in the oil and gas sector borrowed the highest amount of ₦4.68 trillion, followed by manufacturing with ₦2.23 trillion, government, commerce, finance and insurance, and power had loan portfolios of ₦1.37 trillion, ₦1.03 trillion, ₦954.6 billion, and ₦682.93 billion respectively. The agriculture sector had a loan portfolio of ₦648.89 billion; construction, ₦642.87 billion; information technology, ₦607.95 billion; real estate, ₦599.39 billion; transportation, ₦316.95 billion and capital market, ₦227.26 billion. Others were public utilities, ₦78.91 billion; education, ₦58.4 billion; health, ₦36.6 billion; administration and support services, ₦23.09 billion; water supply, ₦22.6 billion; arts ₦11.34 billion and mining ₦8.9 billion.

Commentary

  • Though it has not been conclusively proven that the attack which led to Mrs. Olakunrin’s murder was carried out by herdsmen, it is clear that the rate of insecurity across the country, and especially on travel routes in the South West region, is on the rise. Even after the six governors in the region held a security summit in a bid to arrest the situation, very little has changed. Unfortunately, the President has chosen to politicise the situation, and his advisers and officers are following his lead. The manner of their response risks inflaming the ethnic and religious dimensions that have been bubbling under the surface because of historical mistrust that has not been properly addressed, and as a result, we are now probably one miscalculated reprisal away from open sectarian violence. It is very important that the government does two things, first, it needs to dispense, and be seen to be dispensing justice for the victims; and then it needs to retrain the security services on proper policing methods. Finally, and this is a medium to long term goal, the internal security structure of the country is long overdue for reform: the current federal structure is inadequate with an underfunded, undermanned, ill-equipped, and heavily bureaucratic police. The current security challenges strengthen the call for state or community policing which will give the police space to be more proactive in carrying out their duties.
  • While maritime piracy attacks worldwide declined in the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, they continue to rise in the Gulf of Guinea which had more than twice the number of attacks in 2018 than it had in 2017. Last week, the International Maritime Bureau described the Gulf of Guinea as the most dangerous area in the world for piracy. The spate of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and Nigeria specifically led the Indian government in June to ban its seafarers from working on vessels in Nigerian waters. This has the potential to affect shipping to Nigeria as Indians along with Filipinos dominate the global shipping industry, and worse still, India is currently Nigeria’s largest trading partner for crude, buying at least 30% of Nigeria’s crude oil worth at least $10 billion yearly. The Nigerian Navy has to increase its patrols of the country’s waters and respond more actively to reported incidents.
  • The judgement against the Nigerian Customs Service is a welcome development and very positive for the rule of law, which is vital for business. Over the past decade, since the first Free Trade Zones were established in Nigeria, there have been multiple cases of harassment by the Nigerian Customs Service who often carry out raids on operators for levies and taxes which they normally should not pay. The impunity with which Customs officials have gone about their “war on imported rice” as contraband, up to various reported cases of killings during operations against alleged rice smugglers, is something that Nigerians have expressed grave concern over. Customs officers seizing property already in the country and in open markets are clear violations of private property rights and we hope that this judgement will set a marker down for the future conduct of Customs officials.
  • One of the catalysts of the Nigerian banking crisis of 2009 was the high concentration of loans to a precious few customers and the oil and gas sector. A decade later, not much has changed, and the Central Bank of Nigeria has been forced to act to promote the diversification of bank lending by issuing directives that all banks to maintain a minimum loan-to-deposit ratio for banks (LDR) of 60% by 30 September 2019, and assigning a weight of 150% to SMEs, retail, mortgage and consumer lending in computing LDRs. Equally worrisome is the fall in the dollar value of total loans in the economy following the devaluation of the naira in June 2016. That month, credit outstanding to the private sector stood at ₦19 trillion (the equivalent of US$96 billion before the devaluation) compared to the value of ₦25 trillion in May 2019 (the equivalent of US$69 billion by 2019’s average exchange rate) signifying the reduced role banks are increasingly playing in developing the economy. This has left the CBN with no other option but to intervene directly in agriculture and other sectors to ensure the economy does not slip back into recession. Whichever way you look at it, it is an unhealthy and unsustainable state of affairs.