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States Order Police to Arrest Traders Rejecting Old Naira Notes

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State governments have directed police commands to begin clamping down on traders and supermarkets accused of rejecting the old naira notes.

Findings by The PUNCH on Sunday indicated that the authorities in Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Bayelsa, Zamfara and Kwara states had issued directives to security agencies to deal with anyone who turned down the old N1000, N500 and N200 notes.

The development was sequel to the confusion caused by the failure of the Central Bank of Nigeria to issue directives to commercial banks on the extension or otherwise of the February 10 deadline for the currency swap following last Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling restraining the FG from enforcing the time limit earlier fixed by the apex bank.

This is as the Catholic Bishops declared the CBN policy as disastrous, stressing that it hasd turned Nigerians to beggars

On Sunday, the Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje directed the acting Chairman of Kano State Consumer Protection Council, Dr Baffa Dan’agundi to shut down Wellcare supermarket for rejecting the old naira notes in violation of the directive of the state government that the currency remains legal tender.

The chairman of the council made the disclosure shortly after shutting down the supermarket, stating that legal action will also be taken against Wellcare Alliance Limited, the owners of WellCare supermarket.

He warned other businesses in Kano that the state government had not banned the use of old naira notes.

He threatened that any shop owner caught rejecting the old notes would be dealt with decisively, according to the dictates of the law.

Meanwhile, the management of Wellcare Alliance Limited has written an  apology letter to Ganduje, seeking his immediate intervention to re-open the supermarket.

The letter was titled, ‘A plea for an immediate intervention to re-open Wellcare Alliance Limited and an apology letter.’

It read in part, “Sir, Wellcare has always had an outstanding reputation in the market within the state and beyond, equally has abided by every rule and regulation which directly affects the company or a regulator without hesitation.

“Due to the Federal Government policy on the new naira notes, we gave wrong instructions to our staff that from the 10th day of February 2023 that only the new approved naira notes are to be in circulation.

“On an expansive investigation with our bankers, they declined to receive old naira notes on our behalf, unknown to all parties that the state has a policy that the old notes are to be in circulation. On this basis, we sincerely apologize for our actions and deeply regret any inconvenience this may have caused the state.

“We humbly plead that our business should be re-opened for deserving members of the public as we undertake to receive old notes as valid tender till when the state issues an otherwise directive. Please, do accept our regards and sincere apologies.”

In the same vein, the Katsina state government has warned banks and traders  in the state not to reject the old naira notes until the Supreme Court gives a final verdict on the issue.

The state government gave the warning in a statement on Sunday issued by the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Home Affairs, Abdulkarim Sirika.

The government said it had come to its notice that banks and traders in the state were rejecting the old notes from residents, a development it said had led to severe hardships  for the people.

The statement read: ‘’It has come to the notice of the state government under the able leadership of the Governor of Katsina State, Rtd Hon. Aminu Bello Masari that banks and marketers are no longer accepting the old naira notes.

“In view of this, His Excellency, the governor has directed that marketers and banks should continue accepting the old naira notes from now to the 15th February 2023 pending the final verdict of the Supreme Court on the matter.”

Meanwhile, Katsina residents have continued to bear the hardship imposed by the non-availability of the new naira notes.

Many ATM points in the state were not dispensing the new notes over the weekend while the few PoS operators still operating charged higher commissions ranging from N150 to N300 per every N1,000 withdrawal.

In Sokoto, the state police command has vowed to deal with anyone rejecting the old notes.

The command’s Public Relations Officer, Sanusi Abubakar, who stated that the force has not received any complaint, however, called on residents to report anyone rejecting the old naira notes to the law enforcement agents in the state.

Abubakar said, ‘’I’m sure you know we can only react if there is a complaint against anyone rejecting the notes but so far, we have not gotten any report of such in the state. I can assure you that we are on top of the situation and we will do the needful if such a report is made.’’

Also speaking on the issue, the Kwara State Police Public Relations Officer, Ajayi Okasanmi, asserted that the police had been given a directive to arrest any individual who sells or buys naira notes in the state.

Responding to an inquiry from The PUNCH, Okasanmi said, “There is a government directive to arrest anyone who messes up the naira notes, buy or sell the notes, but we have not been able to catch anyone in Kwara state. I want to advise people to abide by the government directive on both old and new naira notes so that they would not run foul of the law.’’

To mitigate the difficulties facing the residents, the state government disclosed that it has arranged palliatives to cushion the effects of the fuel scarcity and the currency scarcity in the state.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye, explained in a statement on Sunday that the palliatives would include cash transfer to widows, pensioners, transporters, marketers, smallholder farmers, and other vulnerable people.

He added that the programme would be carried out by the Kwara State Social Investment Programme for proper coordination and accountability.

He added that the governor had directed KWASSIP to work out the details and deploy the modest support as soon as possible.

The CPS also said that the government would soon deploy free buses along specific students’ routes in the state.

“The governor has also directed the deployment of free buses along specific routes used by students and staff of tertiary institutions in the capital city where the effects of the fuel scarcity have been most pronounced. Further details of this palliative will be released by relevant government departments/committees”, the statement said.

To curb the rising tension over the scarcity of new naira notes, the Bayelsa State Police Command said it had beefed up security around banks and ATM  points.

The command warned miscreants against unlawful assembly and violence due to the new naira notes’ crisis.

This was contained in a statement issued by the spokesman for the command, Asinim Butswat.

The Punch

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Business

Record Financial Performance: Fidelity Bank Plc Promotes 11% of Workforce

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Leading financial institution, Fidelity Bank Plc has announced the promotion of 11% of its workforce, a testament to the exceptional performance and dedication of its employees.
This significant move follows the release of the bank’s 2023 full year Audited Financial Statements, which reported an impressive 131.5 percent growth in Profit Before Tax (PBT) to N124.26 billion.
The recent promotions span every level within the bank, reflecting Fidelity Bank Plc’s commitment to recognizing and rewarding excellence across its entire organization. This strategic initiative has garnered positive reactions from staff members, who see it as a validation of their hard work and contribution to the bank’s remarkable financial achievements.
In addition to the promotions, Fidelity Bank Plc has also concluded arrangements to raise a total of N127.1 billion through a Rights Issue to existing shareholders and a Public Offer. This move is part of the bank’s broader strategy to strengthen its capital base, support future growth, and enhance shareholder value.
Fidelity Bank Plc’s impressive financial performance and the subsequent employee promotions highlight the bank’s robust operational strategy and its commitment to fostering a rewarding work environment. By investing in its people and ensuring their career growth, the bank continues to build a motivated and high-performing workforce.
Ranked as one of the best banks in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank Plc is a full-fledged customer commercial bank with over 8.5 million customers serviced across its 251 business offices in Nigeria and the United  Kingdom as well as on digital banking channels.
The bank has won multiple local and international awards including the Export Finance Bank of the Year at the 2023 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards, the Best Payment Solution Provider Nigeria 2023 and Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking and Finance Awards; Best Bank for SMEs in Nigeria by the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2023; and Best Domestic Private Bank in Nigeria by the Euromoney Global Private Banking Awards 2023.
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FirstBank Partners International Women’s Society to Empower Women

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited has partnered with the International Women’s Society (IWS) to empower over 250 widows, in commemoration of the 2024 International Widows’ Day.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that beneficiaries at the Lagos event, tagged “IWS Widows Feast and Empowerment Programme”, received various essential tools, equipment and grants. The items distributed were sewing machines, freezers, coolers, hair dryers, cake mixers, industrial cooking gas, generators, and freezers to help the widows establish and sustain their businesses.

Ms Lande Atere, Chief Customer Experience Officer, FirstBank, said that the financial institution had been partnering with IWS for over a decade. According to her, the bank has been empowering women-owned Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with funding and skills acquisition.

“As an organisation that strategically prioritises financial inclusion, we will continue to support IWS in creating entrepreneurial opportunities and promoting self-reliance and vocational skills among women,” Atere stated.

Mrs Adebanke Adeola, Chairperson of the International Women’s Society (IWS) Widows Trust Fund (WTF), appreciated FirstBank for supporting the society in empowering and feasting with the widows. Adeola mentioned that the bank provided Point of Sale (POS) machines to improve the benefiting widows’ access to financial services and income generation opportunities.

Also, some beneficiaries would receive extra working capital through the generosity of the financial institution and other sponsors.

“This partnership, along with generous sponsorships from other companies and individuals, enables us to continue our mission and expand our impact. The programme, organised yearly, aims to help widows achieve financial independence and self-sufficiency,” Adeola said.

Culled from NAN

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Fidelity Bank Leads Trading As Equities Gain N324bn

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Fidelity Bank Plc was the most active stock on Monday, 10 June 2024 at the Nigerian stock market as a strong positive sentiment led Nigerian equities to a net capital gain of N324 billion in the first trading session of the week.
The market opened with widespread positive sentiment as investors sought to lock into value stocks in the high-end sectors of oil and gas, construction and manufacturing.
With three gainers for every loser, the market closed with average return of 0.58 per cent, equivalent to net capital gain of N324 billion.
The momentum of activities also improved considerably as total turnover rose by 148.33 per cent to 963.541 million shares valued at N13.498 billion in 8,657 deals. Fidelity Bank topped the activity chart with 605.257 million shares valued at N6.025 billion.
Fidelity Bank’s activities appeared to be driven by buy sentiment as the stock closed within the top 15 gainers with a gain of 6.52 per cent to close at N9.80 per share.
The All Share Index (ASI)- the common value-based index that tracks all share prices at the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), rose by 0.58 per cent to close at 99,793.71 points as against its opening index of 99,221.14 points.
Aggregate market value of all quoted equities also increased simultaneously from its opening value of N56.128 trillion to close at N56.452 trillion.
Other most active stocks included Access Holdings, which recorded turnover of 93.067 million shares worth N1.744 billion. United Bank for Africa (UBA) traded 58.726 million shares valued at N1.261 billion. Nigerian Breweries traded 45.256 million shares valued at N1.267 billion while Zenith Bank traded 16.079 million shares worth N539.552 million.
Analysts at Futureview Financial Services said they anticipated a mixed sentiment in the equities market, primarily due to the enduring allure of the fixed income market among investors.
“This interest is fueled by expectations of increased rates in the Nigerian Treasury Bill (NTB) auction and the impending release of the inflation rate. However, amidst these factors, there remains an opportunity for sustainable growth, particularly in fundamentally strong stocks that currently find themselves in the oversold region. We foresee a selective pursuit of bargains, particularly in dividend-paying stocks, driven by the nearing corporate qualification and payment,” Futureview stated.
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