Press focuses on attacks by suspected separatist fighters against security forces, others

The continued attacks by suspected separatist fighters against security forces in the Southeast of Nigeria and the concerns raised by…

The continued attacks by suspected separatist fighters against security forces in the Southeast of Nigeria and the concerns raised by stakeholders in the temple of justice on quality judgment and acceleration of justice delivery in various court levels across the country are some of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday.The Guardian reports that the spate of coordinated attacks by suspected separatist fighters against security forces in the Southeast continued yesterday as unknown gunmen in the early hours of Monday attacked the Nigerian Correctional Services and the police headquarters in Imo State, freeing 1,844 inmates, after which the hoodlums set the facilities ablaze.

During the attack, one person suspected to be a fleeing inmate was hit by a bullet while carrying his travel bag. His lifeless body was seen on the ground in front of the correctional centre located near the Government House, along Okigwe Road.

The gunmen also razed the Imo State Police Command headquarters and burnt almost all the vehicles parked at the command’s headquarters. No fewer than 50 cars were set ablaze in the process. Sources disclosed that after the bandits invaded the command, they also freed scores of detainees.

They were said to have operated from 1:00 a.m. till 3:00 a.m. during which they sang solidarity songs at the Government House roundabout for about 30 minutes before attacking the facilities.

On breaking into the prison facility with the aid of explosives and dynamite, the attackers told the inmates: “Go home, Jesus has risen. You have no reason to be here.”

The newspaper says that stakeholders in the temple of justice have often clamoured for quality judgment and acceleration of justice delivery in various court levels across Nigeria.

As it was often suggested, one of the ways of achieving that objective is through engagement of additional judicial officers to handle the heavy workload in the courts’ dockets. Unfortunately, the recent nomination exercise conducted for judges for elevation into the Court of Appeal has been generating controversies. Rather than bring a sigh of relief to the bar and the bench, the process was received with skepticism on the ground of alleged politicization.

National Judicial Council (NJC) under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko I. Muhammad, which is saddled with the responsibility of recommending judicial officers to the President for appointment, recently recommended the appointment of 26 judicial officers.

The resolution was reached at its 94th meeting held between March 17 and 18 March, where the Council considered list of candidates forwarded by its Interview Committee. Out of the number, 18 Judges were recommended for the Court of Appeal bench.

But before JNC’s statement on the recommendation of judges, some lawyers who were preview to the process of selection came publicly to criticize perceived politicization of the exercise and warned of its implications on the judiciary.

Their grouse hinged on the belief that some of the judges, who could not answer the questions put before them at the screening exercise, should not be considered qualified for the elevated office of the Appeal Court.

The Vanguard reports that Nigeria may be warming up for a debt repayment relief as there are strong indications that the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would recommend to the G20, an extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) by low-income countries until the end of 2021.

Nigeria is owing the two institutions about USD14 billion while the 2021 budget has projected to spend as much as N3.12 trillion in debt servicing during the fiscal year.

The possible relief is contained in a paper presented by staff of the World Bank/ IMF at the backdrop of its 2021 virtual Spring Meetings which commenced yesterday.

The recommendation which will further provide relief from debt service under the COVID-19 pandemic initiatives, requires the approval of the Executive Boards of the organizations to become their official positions.

According to the paper, the recommendation has become necessary as most debtor-countries have been found to be struggling with the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their economies.

The Punch says that five of the major oil marketing companies in the country saw their total revenue plunge by N331.54bn last year amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The companies, including Total Nigeria Plc and Conoil Plc, saw their combined revenue for the financial year 2020 fell to N768.46bn from N1.10tn in the previous year.

The financial statements of six major oil marketing companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange showed that four of them suffered profit declines, one posted a loss while the remaining one returned to profitability.

Total Nigeria Plc, a subsidiary of a French oil major, Total, saw its revenue drop by 30 per cent N204.72bn in 2020 from N292.17bn in the previous year. Its profit after tax declined to N2.06bn last year from N2.28bn in 2019.

Total is the only international oil company still operating in the downstream sector of the Nigerian oil and gas industry. 11Plc, formerly known as Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc, generated revenue of N163.91bn in 2020, down from N191.68bn in the previous year. Its profit after tax tumbled to N6.23bn from N8.88bn.

The Sun reports that the total domestic inflows on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) grew by N84.23 billion despite the rise in yields in the fixed income environment.

According to the Domestic and FPI report for February 2021, the foreign inflows dropped to N23.2 billion while the total value of transactions traded at the exchange declined by 7.3 percent month-on-month (m/m) to N215.58 billion in February 2021 as against N232.46billion recorded in January – the third consecutive month of decline.

The performance of the current month when compared to the performance in February 2020 (N148.50 billion) revealed that total transactions increased by 45.17 percent, whereas in February 2021, the total value of transactions executed by domestic investors outperformed transactions executed by foreign investors by 42 percent.

A further analysis of the total transactions executed between the current and prior month (January 2021) revealed that total domestic transactions decreased by 16.99 percent from N184.94 billion in January to N153.51 billion in February 2021.

However, total foreign transactions increased by 30.62 percent from N47.52billion (about $120.78 million) to N62.07 billion (about $151.23 million) between January and February 2021.