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Africa must cut reliance on food imports, says Nigerian billionaire

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Abidjan, Ivory Coast (CNN)Food prices have been rising around the world, driven first by the Covid pandemic and poor harvests, and made worse by the conflict in Ukraine, which has hit exports of both wheat and fertilizer.
Even with a new deal that would allow grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, the impact of elevated prices could still be severe in Africa, which imports most of its food, and where the IMF forecasts inflation could reach as high as 12.2% this year.
Nigerian billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu says it’s time for African countries to work together to create a food value chain across the continent, and produce more goods for domestic consumption.

Rabiu is the CEO of BUA Group, a conglomerate in food processing, infrastructure, manufacturing and mining. His company has made investments across the continent to cut its reliance on imports from Europe and Asia.

He spoke with CNN’s Eleni Giokos last month at the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
High inflation, food insecurity, energy prices: What are you going to do to solve some of these issues?
Rabiu: Part of the problem is that we import 80% of what we consume. For example, Africa imported over 55 million tons of wheat last year, and wheat is one of the commodities that has really been hit hard in terms of high prices. Since the Ukrainian-Russian (conflict) started, we have seen a situation where the price (of wheat) got from $250 to almost $600 per ton. And you know Africa relies heavily on Russian and Ukrainian wheat.

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Meet: Abdulsamad Rabiu Founder, Bua Group

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Meet: Abdulsamad Rabiu Founder, Bua Group 00:30
So how is your input being affected?
Rabiu: If you import and the price is double, what do you do? You have to increase the prices. And a lot of people cannot really afford that. So we are seeing a decrease in terms of production, processing and consumption, and that is a big issue. That is why I keep saying that we have to look inwards, do as much as we can to add value to what we have. We have to increase (our) production for the food security of the continent.
You have been in the pasta business, for example. Why haven’t you already gotten into farming? I know wheat is difficult to grow.
Rabiu: Wheat is difficult to grow but we are also into sugar and we’re building the most advanced sugar plantation in Nigeria. It’s a 20,000-hectare, four-in-one, fully integrated sugar plantation with sugar mill, sugar refinery, ethanol and power plant. We decided to do that because we realized we were spending a lot of money to import raw sugar and that is something that could be easily planted and produced in Nigeria. Our inputs as far as raw sugar is concerned will come down drastically.
Now for the hard part, says Secretary General of African Continental Free Trade Area
Now for the hard part, says Secretary General of African Continental Free Trade Area
The African Continental Free Trade Area went live (in 2021). Have you seen a real impact on your business?
Rabiu: The free trade area is an amazing arrangement. We all need to come together to enjoy the benefits. Of course, we also have challenges as far as infrastructure is concerned, and for the agreement to succeed, you need to fix your infrastructure space, especially in areas like ports.

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You still find that challenging?
Rabiu: I give you an example: it’s more expensive to ship goods from Nigeria to, say, Lomè (in Togo, West Africa) than from Nigeria to Brazil. And that’s because we have the vessels without the ports. So those issues are there and we need to fix our infrastructure.

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Crime

Union Bank keeps mum as EFCC arraigns employee over fraud (Photos)

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday arraigned a former employee of Union Bank, Abdulmalik Salau, and two others for cybercrime and money laundering involving about N1.403 billion.

The other accused persons are Ismaila Atumeyi and Ngene Dominic. EFCC announced the arrest of the defendants in November.

The anti-graft agency’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement that the trio were arraigned before the trial judge, Tjinani Ringim, of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos.

They face 18 charges to which they all pleaded “not guilty” on Monday.

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Following their “not guilty” plea, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, called for the commencement of their trial, a request he anchored on the provision of section 273 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

“Therefore, we will, with all humility, ask your Lordship for the acceleration of this trial.

My Lord, Section 300 of the ACJA also expects the prosecution to give a very brief summary of the case it has against the defendants,” the lawyer said.

How defendants allegedly diverted bank’s N1.4billion’

Mr Oyedepo also informed the judge that the prosecution had lined up six witnesses to testify against the defendants.

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He said the prosecution would, through the witnesses, show to the court “how the defendants agreed among themselves to hack into the database of Union Bank Plc, transferred funds belonging to the bank and its customers and used the proceeds of this unlawful activity to acquire properties for themselves.”

He added that the prosecution would show how the third defendant, a former member of staff of Union Bank Plc, allegedly worked with the others and “succeeded in hacking into the database of the bank”

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He alleged that the defendants, in different instalments, moved over N1.4 billion into the accounts of FAV Oil and Gas Limited and Atus Homes Limited.

The prosecuting lawyer added: “The exhibits that the prosecution will tender include the documentary exhibit that shows that the sum of $480,000 was found in the possession of the third defendant and that the sum of N326, 400 million cash was found in a black Escalade car in the possession of first and second defendants.

“My lord, the case is such that, in its nature, requires the cooperation of both the prosecution and the defence team to see its expeditious determination.

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“I, therefore, urge your lordship, pending the determination of the case, to remand the defendants in a correctional facility, where adequately trained personnel will see to their welfare and wellbeing.”

EFCC alleged that part of the offences allegedly committed by the defendant was contrary to and punishable under section 16(1) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015.

Another of the offences was also said to violate section 18( a), 15 (2) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011, as amended and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.

Defence lawyers deny allegations, apply for bail

Responding to the prosecuting counsel, Bolaji Ayorinde, the lawyer representing the first and second defendants, Messrs Atumeyi and Dominic, said: “No iota of evidence has been admitted against the first and second defendants.

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The defendants having pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, Mr Ayorinde said “they are constitutionally and legally under the presumption of innocence until otherwise determined by the court.”

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The defence lawyer added:* “In order to further the presumption of innocence of the first and second defendants, we filed on November 30, 2022, an application for bail seeking your lordship’s admission to bail of the first and second defendants pending the hearing and determination of the charge against them.

“The prosecution has responded to the application by serving on the first and second defendants a counter filed on 5 December 2022.”
He said in ensuring an expeditious and speedy dispensation of the case, he was prepared to move the application for bail immediately.

The application for bail for the first and second defendants is ready for hearing. The summons for bail is dated November 30, 2022. Since it seeks admission of the defendants to bail in very liberal terms, the grounds of the application are well stated in the summons,” he said.

Mr Ayorinde, who described the offence as bailable, stated that the defendants, “who were arrested and detained as far back as November 1, 2022,” would not jump bail.

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He maintained that the “incarceration of the first and second defendants ought not to continue, even if on some terms. Their rights to bail have not been taken away; the charges preferred against them are bailable.”

The third defendant’s lawyer, Babatunde Ogunwo, also denied the allegations levelled against his client and “adopted “wholeheartedly” the argument of Mr Ayorinde.

EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Oyedepo, opposed the defendants’ bail applications.

“In the very unlikely event that the court disagrees with our submissions, we pray your lordship to impose such conditions that will secure the attendance of the defendants, particularly the first and second defendants whose applications are being argued.”

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The judge adjourned until Tuesday for ruling on the bail application of the first and second defendants.

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One year old boy drowns after falling into bucket of water in Anambra

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A boy, 1, has d!ed after falling into a bucket of water in Nnewi, Anambra state.

The child’s parents reportedly left him in the care of his siblings when the tragedy occurred on Saturday, Dec. 3.

The siblings were busy playing when the child made his way to buckets of water arranged outside and fell into one.

He was found too late.

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Videos shared online show loved ones praying for the boy to come back to life. No one is seen performing CPR in the video.

Sadly, the boy gave up the ghost.

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Men who refuse polygamy contributing to prostitution – Ned Nwoko

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A Nigerian lawyer and politician, Prince Chinedu Munir Nwoko, popularly known as Ned Nwoko, has accused men who do not marry more than one wife of contributing to immorality in society.

The former lawmaker, who stated this in his recent interview with the Guardian, urged Nigerian men to emulate the northern men by marrying more than one wife.

He said: “Many women are out there without a husband, especially in the southern part of the country, and there is a high level of prostitution. If the southern men emulate their northern counterparts by marrying more than one wife, that could probably change the situation.

“An average southerner may have one wife with girlfriends, and he is spending money on the girlfriends, sometimes even more than his wife.

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“For instance, the man, who has three wives, concentrate on them, every money he makes is spent on his family, and he is more likely not to have a girlfriend or concubines. The money those with several girlfriends spend on them is a gift, not an investment in the family.”

Nwoko, who has multiple wives, noted that he and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, are serving Nigeria by marrying many wives.

Ned, who further claimed to have the same background as Ooni, explained that their grandfathers were kings and had served Nigeria in that capacity. “And we are now also serving Nigeria by marrying many wives.”

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