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Customs Generates Over N49m from eAuction

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Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it generated N49 million on e-auction platform and recorded 254 winners in four weeks across the country.

Mr Joseph Attah, Service Public Relations Officer, announced this in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Attah said that 6,560 persons were able to recharge their e-wallet of N1000 administrative fee and participated in the bidding process.

Attah explained that with 19 commercial banks hooked to the platform, interested bidders now have the option of choosing banks nearest to them for ease of transactions.

“Four weeks after the official launch of the NCS e-auction platform, https: app.trade.gov.ng/eauction by the Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, a total number of 254 winners have emerged across the country with over N49 million already generated.

“NCS has already taken steps to deal with the challenges posed by fraudulent bidders who log in to frustrate other genuine bidders by placing bogus and unrealistic figures.

“In some cases, they send SMS to supposed winners congratulating them. Apart from de-activating the Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) of these elements, the option for second highest bidder to win when the highest winner fails to pay has been jettisoned.

“In such situation, the item reverts to the system for fresh bidding. Winners are informed only through e-mails from the system not by SMS,” Attah said.

According to him, the System is being re-programmed to automatically reject such criminal antics

Attah advised fraudulent bidders to keep off the platform and allow interested Nigerians to reap the benefits of the transparent system that presented equal opportunity to all.

He said that NCS resolve to ensure the success of the e-auction, was motivated by the inherent benefits of the platform.

Attah said that the platform was secured, provided opportunity to generate more revenue for government an gave equal opportunities to all interested persons.

He added that the platform was transparent, accountable and free from vices associated with manual process of the past.

“For the avoidance of doubt, NCS wishes to assure the general public that the e-auction platform will continue to go live for 48 hours between Monday, 12 noon to Wednesday, 12 noon every week,” he added.

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Concerns as Chinese Importers Smuggle $300m Rosewood Logs from Nigeria

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Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in its recent reports has revealed that over 1.4 million illegal rosewood logs from Nigeria, worth $300 million, were laundered into China.

 

The reports by EIA described illegal rosewood logs from Nigeria as one of the largest timber smuggling operations in history, as multiple sources told EIA undercover investigators that over $1 million was paid to top Nigerian officials to release the wood stopped by Chinese authorities.

 

The reports say that thousands of permits were ultimately signed by the then Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, who currently serves as Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (UN).

 

The results of a two-year investigation by EIA, the Rosewood Racket details the journey of illegal African rosewood, also known as kosso, from the remote forests of Nigeria beset by illegal logging to luxury furniture boutiques in China, despite protections placed on this threatened tree species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

 

Over the past five years, the exploding Chinese demand for kosso has triggered a series of “boom-and-bust” cycles that led to the depletion of forests across West African nations. In most of the countries, kosso has been illegally logged in violation of harvest and log export bans, including in protected areas. Precious trees have been laundered into the international market through regional smuggling routes, using mis-declaration and falsification of official documents. The boom began in Gambia and Benin, but as the supply in those countries was exhausted in a few short years, the Chinese traders rapidly moved on through other countries in the region before settling on the one offering the largest untapped resources – Nigeria.

 

Since 2013, Nigeria has been transformed from a net importer into the world’s largest exporter of rosewood logs, and is to date one of the top wood exporters on the continent.

 

The unprecedented and uncontrolled level of logging across the country is causing desertification,  putting in peril the livelihoods of millions of people, and threatening national parks and endangered emblematic species such as the most vulnerable chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) in the world.

 

Kosso was added to Appendix II of CITES in 2016, meaning that logging and trade must be strictly controlled and kept at sustainable levels. The results of the new EIA investigation show that the enforcement of the convention faces serious challenges when dealing with transnational criminal networks. The report shows how Sino-Nigerian criminal networks took advantage of an obsolete and opaque permitting system to launder illegal wood using CITES paperwork.

 

Alexander von Bismarck, EIA Executive Director, explained that, “as a legally binding treaty ratified by nearly all members of the UN, CITES can play a critical role in protecting endangered trees and fragile forests. The international community needs to urgently bring transparency to the CITES permitting process to fight the organised criminals that profit from the extinction of endangered species.”

 

Mrs. Mohammed was reportedly supposed to start her new position as Deputy Secretary General of the UN on January 1, 2017, but extended her time as Minister of Environment at the request of the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to complete important responsibilities. EIA investigators found that Mrs. Mohammed signed thousands of retroactive CITES permits in January 2017 as one of her last acts as Minister of Environment, and just before she was sworn in as the Deputy Secretary General to the UN.

 

The permits were used by Chinese importers to release over 1.4 million illegal logs that had been detained at the Chinese border for months, after having left Nigeria in violation of both Nigerian law and international CITES obligations.

 

Von Bismarck added that, “the power and reach of organised timber criminals in forest rich countries is overwhelming if illegal wood is allowed to be sold overseas without consequences. This is why we urgently need regulatory changes in consuming countries to stop timber shipments based on evidence of being illegally logged, transported or traded. Such laws have already been passed in the US and the EU. This case shows that China has the ability to take action when it stopped thousands of containers of illegal rosewood. But the fact that the wood was ultimately released shows that China urgently needs domestic legislation to ban the import of illegally sourced wood.”

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Stanley Jegede Foundation Joins Fight against Cancer in Children

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Mr Stanley Jegede, SJF executive chairman

Stanley Jegede Foundation (SJF), reiterating full commitment to its impact based and result oriented Global Health and Welfare program (GHAW); has lent active support to Child Survival and Development Organization on its United Against Cancer “Run for Cure” advocacy campaign that is targeted at increasing awareness on early treatment and eradication of cancer in children.

 

Child Survival and Development Organization were founded by Mrs Onari Duke, and work in active collaboration with teaching hospitals across Nigeria mainly their pediatric oncology departments to offer assistance in the treatment, and eradication of childhood cancer.

 

According to Mr Stanley Jegede, SJF executive chairman, “to sustain awareness; prompt action and strengthen the fight against the hideous and completely life altering disease that cancer is, active initiatives such as “Run for Cure’ cannot be too many. It is fairly common knowledge that cancer has no respect for colour, creed, gender or age and that it is an ailment that attacks the immune system aggressively, and its medical treatment in a large number of cases can also wipe out a victim’s immune system.

 

Hence, generating awareness on lifestyle choices that can keep it at bay or actively supporting technologically or community driven efforts to find a permanent cure that can help victims resume a life of normalcy with little or no trauma is not only a noble cause but a life goal for Stanley Jegede Foundation through its GHAW programme.

 

He addsed that SJF is most dedicated to initiatives that fight against cancer (especially in children that are its most vulnerable victims) as well as other such collaborations that focus largely on the health and welfare of the Nigerian child – as the foundation’s core vision is motivated by a zeal to “make good quality of life accessible to Africa’s less privileged; especially children and youths – towards the achievement of their life or career goals”.

 

He said that SJF team is particularly humbled that Child Survival and Development Organization chose to extend an opportunity to be a part of its 2017 “Run for Cure” initiative and he is confident that SJF will continue to support campaigns to eliminate cancer and assist patients especially in remote communities in the coming years.

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Shell, Bio-bean Collaborate to help Power Buses

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Shell and bio-bean are helping to power some of London’s buses using a biofuel made partly from waste coffee grounds, a development that has triggered renewed challenge to Nigerian beneficiaries of Shell’s LiveWIRE programme to join in the innovative search for bright energy ideas.

This latest Shell-bio-bean collaboration is part of Shell’s #makethefuture energy relay, which supports entrepreneurs turning bright energy innovations into a positive impact for communities around the world.

Mr. Osagie Okunbor, Managing Director, The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, says he is excited about emerging energy ideas through innovations and collaborations supported by Shell’s LiveWIRE programme, and sees the potential of smart energy ideas being developed in Nigeria.

“By continuing the conversation on providing a wider, more sustainable mix of energy resources for the world’s growing population, Shell is provoking thoughts on tomorrow’s solution, and I see the potential for a replication of the bio-bean technology in Nigeria where more than 275 million cups of coffee are consumed in a year,” he said. “It is an indication that by rethinking our approach to waste, we can create smarter cities and a brighter future for our country.”

Arthur Kay, bio-bean inventor, is a recipient of Shell’s LiveWIRE Innovation Award, which supports young entrepreneurs with pioneering ideas to create a brighter energy future. He described the bio-bean technology as “the fuel of choice for households looking for a high-performance, sustainable way to heat their homes – and now, with the support of Shell, bio-bean and Argent Energy have created thousands of litres of coffee-derived B20 biodiesel which will help power London buses for the first time.”

In its 14-year history in Nigeria, Shell’s LiveWIRE has produced hundreds of entrepreneurs who benefited from business training and start-up grants, making them employers of labour. Three of the past beneficiaries were recently nominated for the 2017 Shell group Top 10 Innovators award where two of them — Precious Adeho, owner of Emobella Engineering Nig Ltd, and Atalor Ngozi Deborah of De-rahbs Energy Services won in the merit category.

Nigeria has also benefited from innovations and inventions from Shell’s LiveWIRE with the building of Africa’s first human and solar powered football pitch at the Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos, unveiled in 2015 in collaboration with global music star, Akon. The pitch uses Pavegen tiles invented by young British entrepreneur and Shell LiveWIRE beneficiary, Laurence Kemball-Cook, to convert power from footsteps into renewable that lights the pitch at night.

Over the years, SPDC has supported students from Nigeria universities to participate in the global Shell Eco-Marathon, a global competition that sees students design ultra-efficient cars, and challenges them to see which can travel furthest on one litre of fuel.

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