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N2.4 billion case against Innoson, Court adjourns case till May 22

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Innocent Chukwuma

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday adjourned until May 22, the alleged falsification of shipping document to clear goods valued at N2.4 billion against Innoson Nig. Ltd.

The Federal Government through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) had filed a four-count charge of forgery against the defendant and four others.

The defendants were Innoson Nig. Ltd, Innocent Chukwuma, Charles Chukwu, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines ‘C’ and Sunny Anajekwu.

They allegedly conspired and committed the offence on Oct. 10, 2013 at Apapa Wharf.

When the case was called up, one of the accused, Maximian Chukwura was present in court.

The court then informed parties of a letter from counsel representing the third to sixth accused, Mr Macharty Ubadugha, requesting for an adjournment on the grounds that he was before an Appellate Court.

The prosecutor, Mr Julius Ajakaye, in response informed the court that he was only served with a notice of pendency of an application for stay of proceedings in the suit.

He told the court that he had not been served with the notice of appeal or any motion for stay of proceedings.

In his immediate reaction, Counsel to Innoson, Mr George Uwechue (SAN), told the court that he would ensure the service of the notice of appeal as well as the motion on the prosecution.

Justice Ayokunle Faji consequently, adjourned the case until May 22, for determination of the pending motion on notice.

In the charge, the prosecution had alleged that the defendant falsified shipping documents, which they deposited with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. as collateral for the sum of N2.4 billion.

The loan facility was alleged to have been granted Innoson Nig. Ltd.

The shipping document was also alleged to have been falsely presented as genuine and with intent to defraud, in order to clear goods worth N2.4 billion.

According to the charge, the offence contravened the provisions of sections 1(2) (c), and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation 2004. (NAN)

Business

Sunti Sugar Coy Suspends Production

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Ariel view of the N50 billion Sunti sugar project

Sunti Golden Sugar Estate (SGSE) Limited began with a lofty vision to be the purest representation of Nigeria’s Federal Government’s Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) with an ambitious background integration programme intended to set the Country on the path of self-sufficiency in sugar production.

However, it cannot celebrate its first 100 days of production as it has suspended production.

SGSE, a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC (FMN Group) was conceived to be the conglomerate’s biggest agricultural investment in Nigeria to date. Commissioned on March 15 this year, several challenges have forced it to close shop temporarily.

SATELLITE TIMES correspondent, Emmanuel Hezekiah, reports that the sugar company is bedeviled by challenges, some intractable including  lack of sufficient sugarcane from the farms.

There is the dearth of proper drainage system causing deep gully erosion which have uprooted sugarcane plants in the farms.

Besides, the community of Mokwa where the sugar company is sited is unhappy with the manner of the acquisition of their farmland by the Sunti Sugar Company.

They claim that their farmlands were forcibly taken away from them and has refused to allow the sugar company to cultivate on it.

Our correspondent further gathered that the issue of disagreement over the farmland led to bloody communal clashes in Kusogi leading to the death of two men.

A casual worker with the sugar company who did not want his name mentioned said, “We are not well paid and when they pay, the wages do not come as at when due. The company said that we are not permanent staff, that we are casual workers under contract.”

The workers also complained of transportation problems and lack of accommodation close to the site of the sugar company.

Another worker that spoke to SATELLITE TIMES, also pleading anonymity said, “We find it difficult to come to work. The roads are very bad, potholes here and there and the whole surface soil eroded by flood, all this leading to accidents on daily basis. Again, there is no place for us to sleep near our working place making us to come to work through the bad road everyday. We are not comfortable doing the job. Some of us have even stopped coming.”

When contacted for comments, the contractor handling the affairs of the company, whose name was not given was said not to be disposed  to speak to any reporter.

However, one of the line supervisors who also would not give his name told our reporter that the overall head, a white man contracted the running of the company to a Nigerian who failed to take the affairs of the company seriously.

“The contractor in charge was instructed to pay workers N2500 per day, instead he paid them N950 to N1,900 depending on his rating of individual workers. The workers were not happy and had to down tools. That is the major problem. Besides, when the erosion menace was brought to his attention, he did not take it serious until the matter became unmanageable,” the supervisor said.

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Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC Commissions N50 billion Sunti Golden Sugar Estate in Niger State

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Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC logo

Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, (FMN Group) market leader in food and agro-allied products in Nigeria, today announced that its biggest agricultural investment in Nigeria to date – The Sunti Golden Sugar Estate will be commissioned on the 15th of March 2018 by Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Located on the banks of River Niger, in Mokwa, Niger state, the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate is owned by Sunti Golden Sugar Estates (SGSE) Ltd. a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc.

The sugar estate features 17, 000 hectares of irrigable farmland and a Sugar mill that process 4,500 metric tons of sugarcane per day. At full capacity, the estate is expected to produce 1 Million tons of Sugarcane which roughly translates into 100,000 metric tons of sugar yearly.

Enclosed within a 35-kilometer dyke, the production facility area is 15,100 hectares, with a cane area that features a maximum output of 10, 000 hectares. The dyke provides flood protection from the River Niger. Over N1 billion was invested in the state-of-the-art irrigation system that will ensure the efficient cultivation of sugar cane, with infrastructure that includes drain pumps, pump stations, and a power grid.

The estate is the purest representation of the Federal Government’s Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) with an ambitious backward integration program that intends to set Nigeria on the path to self-sufficient sugar production. The farm at peak production will provide direct employment for about 10,000 people yearly, and impact up to 50,000 people indirectly, including 3,000 small-scale out growers who will be cultivating sugarcane to feed the mill.

The estate has brought infrastructure benefits to the surrounding community, with 28 communities in total taking advantage of a new 30-kilometer road, plus expansive road networks that provide a variety of access routes to the homes of the indigenes. Drains, culverts, and flood-protection walls have also been constructed.

The project illustrates the desire to reduce sugar importation, save billions in foreign exchange, boost local capacity, and reduce unemployment by putting thousands of Nigerians to work.

The FMN Group’s mantra, “Feeding the Nation, Everyday,” is at the heart of the company’s strategic decisions on what they produce, how and where factories are set up, the level of care that is put into products, and how they interact with host communities and the wider environment.

The commissioning of the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate on March 15th will be the first step towards a collective dream of agricultural progress for all in Nigeria.

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Business

How banking practices stifle business growth in Nigeria – Dogara

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Yakubu Dogara [Photo Credit: Guardian.ng]

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has called for action to be taken concerning prevalent banking practices which have adverse effects on business growth and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

Speaking at the launch of a book on banking reforms by a member of the House of Representatives Dr. Bode Ayorinde, representing Owo/Ose Federal Constituency, Dogara highlighted issues such as high lending rates and difficulties in accessing loans; and compared prevalent practices in the country with what is obtainable in other climes.

“The challenge in the banking industry in Nigeria is such that it is organized in such a way that it creates buoyancy and development in other jurisdictions, not in Nigeria. I have had cause to say this before, that unless you have assets or equipment, there is no way you can take loans or access loans from Nigerian banks to do the business. If you are not careful in taking loans from Nigerian banks, one will just end up in the poverty gap.”

“I don’t think our citizens are supposed to do their businesses with money they already have in their pockets. Businesses elsewhere are executed by loans by the banking industry in those countries. I don’t know why the interest rate in Nigeria is so high. What is it that we can do to lower the cost of funds in Nigeria, so that our young men, women and entrepreneurs can risk taking money from our financial institutions in order to realize their dreams?”

He queried the likelihood of success of business reforms in the country, in light of the fact that loans remain largely inaccessible to those who most require such financial aids to grow their businesses.

“I love the fact that the Vice President is chairing the council on the ease of doing business in Nigeria but in dealing with most businesses, you are forced to ask what business are we doing? How do we fund these businesses?”

The Speaker, who lamented that the political will to tackle the challenge has been lacking, called on all stakeholders to work together to strengthen the various institutions within the country in line with international best practices.

“That has been the challenge, from the point of view of the Executive down to the Parliament, the political will to address this has not been there. And the answer has always been that just one opinion cannot solve the issue, all hands need to work at it. We cannot afford to continue having weak institutions in Nigeria, not after so many years of having balance.”

“So I believe that concerning some of these borrowing voyages such as been embarked upon recently can be avoided by applying the required formulas that work even here in Nigeria. The sharp parallel that is drawn between the practice here in Nigeria and the practices in over 20 other jurisdictions of the world.”

The event also had in attendance the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu.

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