The Nigerian Army has proposed to spend ₦5.6 billion on fresh arms and ammunition for its operations in 2021, amidst global criticism that it deployed its personnel to shoot at peaceful protesters in the Lekki district of Lagos. According to Sahara Reporters, the army has set aside ₦3,092,857,481 to purchase arms “for operations”, while earmarking ₦2,601,581,056 for general ammunition purchases in 2021. The news site says the figures formed part of the army budget’s as stated in the 2021 Appropriation Bill currently being considered by the National Assembly. Although the majority of military spending on ammunition is supposed to support the protracted war against Boko Haram’s insurgency in the North-East, many army personnel still complain about poor fighting weapons. The army, on 20 October, deployed its personnel with live ammunition to clamp down on the peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, resulting in many casualties.
Union Bank recorded modest growths across key performance indices with gross earnings rising by six per cent to ₦118.8 billion. Key extracts of the nine-month report for the period ended 30 September 2020 showed that gross earnings rose from ₦111.9 billion recorded in Q3 2019 to ₦118.8 billion in Q3 2020. Interest income had inched up from ₦84.9 billion to ₦85.4 billion. Net interest income before impairment rose by 15 percent to ₦41.7 billion as against ₦36.4 billion in Q3 2019, driven by an increase in earnings assets and lower interest expense. The report also showed that non-interest income rose by 23 percent from ₦27.1 billion to ₦33.4 billion, driven largely by increased trading income and asset revaluation gains. Net operating income inched up from ₦68.7 billion to ₦69.3 billion. Operating expenses was flat at ₦53.4 billion in 2020 as against ₦53.2 billion in 2019. Profit before tax inched up by two percent from ₦15.5 billion to ₦15.9 billion. The balance sheet showed that gross loans rose by 14 percent to ₦678 billion by September 2020 from ₦595.3 billion in December 2019, which the bank attributed to the impact of its targeted lending to the real sector. Customer deposits also increased by 28 percent to ₦1.1 trillion by September 2020 compared to ₦886.3 billion in December 2019. The bank attributed the increase in customers deposit to gains on its investments in customer-led products and digital channels which resulted in the acquisition of over 600,000 new-to-bank customers and deepening of wallet share of existing customers.
The FG on Thursday insisted that there were no mass killings at the Lekki Toll Gate in the wake of the #EndSARS protests contrary to the general belief. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this at a press conference in Abuja. Mohammed said those who alleged massacre at the toll gate only succeeded in misleading the world. He said while the government awaits the outcome of the panel investigating the matter, “we can say that the world has just witnessed a massacre without bodies” in Lekki. He has also threatened to sanction CNN over its report on the shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki Toll Plaza on 20 October 2020. The government described the report by the American news channel as “irresponsible journalism”. The minister alleged that CNN relied on social media video without verification to produce its report. “This should earn CNN a serious sanction for irresponsible reporting,” Mohammed said. A CNN spokesperson said the network stands by its investigation. “Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” the spokesperson said in an email to journalists. According to the network, its report was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses, and photos and video obtained and geolocated by CNN. The minister insisted that the military did not shoot at protesters at the toll gate. He added that the government has no plan to shut down the internet or social media and would only work with stakeholders to regulate social media.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has announced the end to its 11th Ebola outbreak, this case in the western Equateur Province. The declaration, which occurred more than 42 days after two tests came back negative for the last confirmed case, was made in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, per a statement. More than 55 deaths were recorded, 119 confirmed cases and 75 recoveries since the declaration of the outbreak on June 1, according to the WHO and the Congo health ministry. The outbreak in western Congo emerged shortly before eastern Congo marked an official end on June 25 to the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, which killed 2,280 people over nearly two years. The two strains were not related, officials said. “This 11th Ebola virus epidemic has had the particularity of spreading much more to river and lake health zones,” Congo’s minister of health, Dr Eteni Longondo, said Wednesday. “This constituted a major logistical challenge in terms of the implementation of response activities in a health system already weakened by previous epidemics and by a weak involvement of the community.” Longondo called on the population to remain vigilant and continue to observe hygiene measures “to avoid the resurgence of Ebola but also to prevent the spread of coronavirus which is raging in the country.”