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Wema Bank sets to dominate digital space, sustains dividend payout

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Wema Bank Plc said it is set to dominate digital space in the banking sector and sustain dividend payment to its shareholders who had been supportive throughout its transformation process.

The Chief Operating Officer, Wema Bank Plc, Mr Tunde Mabawonku, in a media chat in Lagos, said : “Wema Bank Nigeria’s longest surviving and resilient indigenous bank, is focusing on leading service delivery and driving the retail market through technology. We want to lead the digital space in the banking sector as we target the youths who make 60 per cent of the Nigeria’s population.”

Mabawonku disclosed that in the last four year the bank’s strategy has been innovation technology drive and the outlook is yielding dividend. We want to sustain dividend payment to our shareholders for the support and patience all those years we had not paid dividend. We would be paying dividend this year and that would be two consecutive years.

Mabawonku said through the launch of Alat.ng the first fully integrated end-to-end digital bank in Nigeria, Wema Bank has been aggressive in its target of opening numerous accounts per day.

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The CFO asserted that: “ With the focus on excellence, expertise and efficiency, Wema Bank is currently ranked 8th by KPMG, from the 19th position in 2015 in the banking service delivery survey. We are 3rd in terms of service and 6th in Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs development and growth.”

Commenting on the plans for expanding its branch network, Mabawonku noted that: “ Wema Bank is exploring area with great business opportunities while driving technology to meet the needs of the people.”

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Despite the challenging economic environment the Wema Bank management is optimistic of the bank’s outlook, due to the consistency and stability in earnings.

While commenting on its cost strategy, the Bank’s CFO said: “We are already using technology to reduce cost of operations we are also looking at possible mergers and acquisition that would enhance scale and as well reduce cost. We are keeping eyes on various offers for sale in the market.”

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British Council Announces 2023 UK Alumni Award Winners in Nigeria

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Cross-section of the finalists of 2023 Study UK Alumni Awards and the winners at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos recently. PHOTO: AsterIML

The British Council last Saturday announced the recipients of the Study UK Alumni Awards 2023 in Nigeria at a prestigious ceremony held at Eko Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria.

In total, 12 UK alumni in four categories were recognised for their outstanding achievements as business professionals, entrepreneurs, and community leaders as well as for their contribution to strengthening ties between the UK and Nigeria.

This year, the winners received a grant prize of £4000, which could be used for their professional development or a grant to their respective organisations.
Following a call for applications, and an in-depth scoring and review process by a judging panel, recipients were selected for the four award categories, namely Business and Innovation Award, Culture, and Creativity Award, Science and Sustainability Award, and finally, Social Action Award.

The prestigious international award celebrates UK higher education and the achievements of UK alumni all over the world. Now in its ninth year, the award received more than 1,200 applications from international UK alumni in nearly 100 countries, representing more than 120 UK higher education institutions across the UK. Nigeria is one of the many countries hosting the awards this year. National-level awards are taking place in 18 countries in 2023, including India, Saudi Arabia, the USA, and Vietnam.

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In her opening remarks, Director Examinations, British Council Nigeria, Marniee Nottingham, who spoke on behalf of the Country Director, British Council Nigeria, and West Africa Cluster Lead, Lucy Pearson, said that “Applicants from these countries have been entered into the Global Alumni Awards to run concurrently with the national awards. The Global Alumni Award winners will be invited to the UK for a professional networking opportunity in late summer 2023.” She further disclosed that a Nigerian Alumnus, Israel Balogun was the Global Alumni Award Winner in 2022 under the Social Action category.

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A professor of Public Health at the Bayero University and Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Muktar Gadanya, led other finalists to emerge the overall winner in Science and Sustainability category with a grant prize of £4,000. He was a graduate of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The Culture and Creativity Award was presented to Isah Matankari, a graduate of Aston University. Matankari is a performing artist and founder of Creative Culture, an Abuja-based edutainment start-up that produces engaging experiences and media content for Africa’s post-millennial generation. He has been instrumental in growing the FCT’s creative industry by building communities, hosting over 52 events, and creating paid opportunities for over 150 young creatives. He also got the grant prize of £4,000.

The founder of Stand To End Rape, STER, Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, was declared the winner of the Social Action award with a grant prize of £4,000. A graduate of Swansea University, Osowobi has championed the enforcement of legal instruments to end Sexual and Gender-based Violence against women and girls in Nigeria, while providing them with holistic support.

The Business and Innovation award was presented to the founder of FalGates, Abubakar Sadiq Falalu. He was exposed to many theoretical and practical experiences when he was admitted to the University of Nottingham for MSc in Entrepreneurship. His work earned him a spot on the Forbes Africa 30 Under 30’s list. He was recently honoured by the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, as the Member of the Order of the Niger, MON. Falalu’s business associate, Sani Zawiya, who represented the awardee, said, “Falalu was very excited and appreciated the organisers for the honour.” He also smiled home with a £4,000 grant prize.

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According to the Director of Programmes for British Council Nigeria, Chikodi Onyemerela, the programme is a unique event to celebrate individuals excelling in their chosen careers after school.

“StudyUK Alumni Award is a very unique programme to celebrate young men and women who are contributing positively to their societies, following their education in the UK. And there is something unique about the 2023 awardees. It’s a mix of outstanding skills from peculiar sectors; the award categories are also unique and timely. There was no special consideration for those that emerged winners; they got the awards because they merited them based on the depth of what they have achieved,” Onyemerela stated.

The British Council celebrates alumni who have returned after studying in the UK and also continues to support them further through networking, masterclasses, and Learning & Development events.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. British Council builds connections, understanding, and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education, and the English language. In 2019-2020, British Council reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, British Council is a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body with a 14.5 percent core funding grant from the UK government. www.britishcouncil.org

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Customers fight inside Fidelity Bank as naira notes scarcity bites harder

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Scarcity of naira notes has made Nigerians resort to fighting dirty even in banking halls just to show how frustrated they are.

Some days back, it was reported that a woman stripped herself so she could get money in bank and now, another drama has been recorded in Fidelity Bank amidst the scarcity of naira notes.

In a video sighted by TheHeute, two grown men were seen fighting with blows in the banking hall and later picked the iron used for demarcation as a weapon to fight themselves while onlookers fled the scene to avoid being hurt.

The argument that led to the physical activity between them could not be ascertain at the time of filing this report but they were obviously furious considering the energy exerted into the fight at Fidelity Bank.

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Meanwhile, the bank has assured its customers of cash payment amidst the naira scarcity.

The management of Fidelity Bank Plc has assured customers of cash payment across all its branches nationwide.

According to a release by the Head of Corporate Communication of the bank, Dr. Meksley Nwagboh said this in a statement issued by the bank today.

He said, “Our customers can rest assured that we are working to meet their banking needs. All our branches nationwide are open to customers to pay in their old notes and withdraw the new notes in accordance with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s policy on Naira redesign.

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Nwagboh, therefore, enjoined customers of the bank to visit the nearest branch to carry out their banking transactions.

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5.5 Billion Debt: Supreme Court Affirms Honeywell’s Indebtedness To Ecobank

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Ecobank scored a major victory at the Supreme Court on Friday as it won in a N5.5 billion debt dispute against Honeywell and its sister firms, Anchorage Leisures Ltd and Siloam Global Ltd. The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Honeywell Flour Mills Limited challenging the judgement of the Court of Appeal in the debt dispute with Ecobank Nigeria Limited. The five-member panel of the Supreme Court, led by Tijjani Abubakar, delivered the judgement that Honeywell, Anchorage, and Siloam were indeed indebted to Ecobank. In the lead judgement delivered by Emmanuel Agim, the Supreme Court declared the verdict of the Court of Appeal, which said Honeywell and its sister companies are still indebted to Ecobank.
“I affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal, setting aside the decision of the Federal High Court, granting the reliefs claimed for by the appellants (Honeywell). “I hold that the appellants’ claim at the trial court fails and it is hereby dismissed. “The appellants shall pay the cost of N1 million to the respondent (Ecobank),” Agim said.

By the instant judgment of the apex court confirming the indebtedness of the named customers to the Bank, the Bank can now proceed to recover from the debtor-customers the total outstanding debt of N5.5Billion including all the accrued interest from 2015.

In the wake of the legal tussle, Dr Oba Otudeko, Honeywell Group chairman, had told a Court of Appeal that the sum was owed by individual companies. These companies include Anchorage Leisures Limited, Siloam Limited, and Honeywell Flour Mills Plc. Otudeko maintained that his companies had paid N3.5 billion as of December 12, 2013, as the full and final payment for the N5.5 billion debt as agreed by the parties at a July 22, 2013, meeting. With the latest Supreme Court judgement, the companies remain indebted to the Bank.

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On 6 August 2015, Honeywell, and its sister firms, Anchorage Leisures Ltd and Siloam Global Ltd, sued Ecobank before the Federal High Court in Lagos over repayments of a N5.5 billion debt. In the suit, the companies urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to declare that “having paid the sum of N3.5 billion in cumulative settlement of their total outstanding indebtedness” (of N5.5 billion) to Ecobank, “they owned no further debt obligation” to Ecobank “arising from their banker-customer relationships.”

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As a result, they also asked the court to hold that Ecobank “was obligated to issue letters of discharge, release collaterals by which the prior indebtedness was secured.” In addition, Honeywell and its sister companies begged the court to compel Ecobank to “update” their status on the “Credit Risk Management System Portal of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

But in its defence, Ecobank argued that an agreement was reached between it, Honeywell, Anchorage and Siloam on 22 July 2013, “for a definite settlement of N3.5 billion to be paid in terms of N500 million immediately and the balance of N3 billion before the exit of the CBN examiners from” Ecobank’s offices. Ecobank had contended that the repayment agreement period was for six months as it rejected Honeywell and its sister companies’ request to “pay the balance over a one-and-half-year period in three equal half-yearly instalments.”

The bank informed the court that the debt repayment agreement “lapsed in August 2013.” But in its judgement, the judge, Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, upheld the arguments of the Honeywell Group and granted their prayers. Dissatisfied with the verdict, Ecobank in 2015, approached the Court of Appeal. In its decision, the appellate court overturned the judgement of the Federal High Court, setting the stage for the Supreme Court’s appeal which was resolved in favour of the Bank.

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