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How Govt Supports Cable TV Operators to Pirate Pay TV Signals

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How Govt Supports Cable TV Operators to Pirate Pay TV Signals

Last week Thursday, members of Association of Cable Operators of Nigeria (ACON) visited the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Network Centre in Port Harcourt to, according to them, show appreciation to Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

ACON members, bearing placards with messages of appreciation to Mohammed, also delivered a letter they requested to be forwarded to the minister. An NTA news report on their visit quoted them as saying they were there to thank the Information Minister for his role in the controversial amendment of the National Broadcasting Code, which proposes the prohibition of content exclusivity and mandates rights owners, especially of live foreign sport content, to sub-license broadcasters on other platforms.

ACON members broadcast on the Multipoint Multimedia Distribution System (MMDS), a mode of broadcasting using microwave frequencies. MMDS licences were granted to various operators to offer wireless cable services in various cities in Nigeria.

Their delight with Mohammed and the controversial broadcasting code, said analysts, is based on their belief that ban on exclusivity and mandatory sub-licensing of content by rights owners will give them legal cover to continue their practice of transmitting other broadcasters’ signals to their subscribers.

Since being licensed by the NBC, ACON members have studiously refused to produce or acquire their own broadcast content for transmission to their subscribers. Instead, they have been engaging in piracy of other operators’ signals.

Back in 2007, the MMDS operators supported the defunct HiTV to successfully secure the broadcast rights to the English Premier League matches in Nigeria. The support was based on a belief that they had an agreement with HiTV to allow them rebroadcast Premier League games for a fee.

HiTV did not understand it that way. Disappointed, the MMDS operators headed to court, asking that HiTV and other satellite television operators be compelled to sub-license programmes, especially PL games to other broadcasters if they are ready to pay the fees.

In between, the MMDS operators started pirating the signals of HiTV and other operators and transmitting to their subscribers. A frustrated HiTV reported to the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), which raided the offices of the pirates in the South-South geo-political zone where they are most active. Early in 2009, the NCC sealed the office of the Godfrey Ohabunwa-owned CANtv. The NCC also filed criminal charges against CANtv and its staff for piracy of broadcast signals.

ACON remained undeterred, forcing Hitv to take the matter to NBC, which revoked the broadcast licence of CTL, the premier MMDS operator, in 2010.  The same year, ACON dragged MultiChoice before a Federal High Court, asking it to determine the price and terms for sub-licencing certain sport rights to their members. ACON sources disclosed that the group filed the suit to prevent MultiChoice from taking any action its members for piracy of broadcast signals. The court would eventually throw out the suit for lack of diligent prosecution.

The revocation of CTL’s license, however, did not discourage the ACON members, who continued the piracy of broadcast signals. Last October, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raided the offices of CANTV, Metro Digital TV and Communication Trends Limited (CTL), which were found to have been redistributing content exclusive to MultiChoice, StarTimes and Bein Media, the Qatar-based broadcast giants, among others, without authorisation.

According to the EFCC, they were charging subscribers between N3, 000 and N5,000 monthly for content exclusively owned by others.

In a full-page advertorial published in newspapers, ACON members claimed they had been paying licence fees as well two percent turnover to the NBC, adding that the national broadcasting code bars a single operator from having exclusive rights to major sports content.

 In a letter to the EFCC by ACON’s lawyers, the group claimed the anti-graft commission had no business in the matter, as the crime alleged is not financial in nature. Abdulrasheed Bawa, the then head of EFCC’s Port Harcourt Zonal Office, said the EFCC is empowered to deal with crimes that are financial and economic in nature.

According to him, Section 40 of the EFCC Act defines “economic crime” as “non-violent criminal and illicit activity committed with the objectives of earning wealth illegally” and includes any form of fraud, narcotic drug trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement, bribery, looting and theft of intellectual property and piracy among others.

Industry sources disclosed that ACON members, beside piracy, are operating illegally because they have no subsisting licences to operate. According to an NBC source, the Federal Government repossessed the frequencies on which they legitimately transmitted at the commencement of the Digital Switchover (DSO) and as such no longer have subsisting licences.

“They have not paid licence fees or NBC’s annual operating levies for years now,” said the source.

A few weeks after the EFCC raid last year, NCC Director-General, Mr. John Asein, warned cable television operators to respect protected broadcast signals in line with the copyright law, international treaties and global best practices.

Asein issued the warning during an interactive session with ACON members, led by the group’s General-Secretary, Mr. Kalada Wilson.

“We will not tolerate broadcast piracy in whatever form. While the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is the best interpreter of its own broadcast code, the NCC will continue to monitor the broadcast space and enforce respect for copyright in accordance with the copyright law and international treaties to which Nigeria is signatory,” Asein said.

He also told ACON members that any broadcaster found transmitting signals without rights will be apprehended and prosecuted as a broadcast pirate.

“It does not matter who the broadcaster is. We have received complaints from several right owners, including the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Star Times, MultiChoice and the Commission will henceforth take measures to ensure that broadcast rights are protected,” he warned.

The NCC D-G stated that the commission would work with the NBC to ensure the growth of local pay TV operators, but expressed a very dim view of broadcast piracy, which Section 51(1) of the Copyright Act defines as the rebroadcast commercial scale, without authorisation, of content protected by copyright.

An NBC source told this medium that many directors of the commission were uncomfortable when they got the visual of the ACON members’ visit to the NTA Network office in Port Harcourt and the repeated chanting of the minister’s name.

“It is evident that pirates now see Alhaji Lai Mohammed as their patron saint. They see the new broadcasting code as one that is made to give legality to a plainly illegal activity. Watch the video and see one of them saying the code will make people watch Premier League games for N500. How can that be reasonable? The minister is enjoying tainted applause,” said the source.

 In September 2018, the NCC threatened ABG and QTV, both Kaduna-based, with suspension for unlicensed broadcasting. Augustine Amodu, NCC’s Enforcement Director in Kaduna, said the Commission received letters from Aljazeera, Bein and Canal Plus among other international broadcasters that their content was being rebroadcast illegally.

“After doing vigilant surveillance and investigation, we have found out that the original and rightful owner of the content you are transmitting is MultiChoice. But ABG has gone behind without getting due licensing from MultiChoice to continue to operate on the cable of MultiChoice. The only people with the exclusive license to broadcast English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, LaLiga among others is MultiChoice Nigeria. So, we are here to issue a very stern warning to you to desist from this illegal act or run the risk of been shut down,” wrote the NCC in its letter summoning the two operators to its headquarters.

 The same year in Warri and Ughelli, Delta State, the NCC seized illegal broadcast equipment worth N36.1million in anti-piracy operations carried out between 13 and 16 March 2018. Similar operations, leading to arrests and prosecution, are routinely carried out by the NCC, using extant legislation.

An NCC source explained that the Information Minister’s support for broadcast signal pirates may undermine the Federal Government’s anti-terrorism efforts. According to him, terrorism and various strains of piracy have been found to be related. He noted that criminal groups, including terrorists, use piracy to fund their activities, as it is often under the radar of law enforcement, making it a high in pay-off and low activity for both groups.

I am Paschal Ogechi Obi Chikero . I have written and published three books , I wrote Festus Keyamo's biography- Lion In Isolation .I have been a Reality TV show Producer/Creator, an Actor and Film Script Writer.

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Alleged N23bn fraud rocks MTN’s MoMo PSB, one month after launch

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Alleged N23bn fraud rocks MTN’s MoMo PSB, one month after launch

Momo Payment Service Bank Limited (MPSBL), the banking subsidiary of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, is currently enmeshed in an alleged N23 billion fraud scandal, one month after the launch of the platform.

The mobile money banking firm has urged the Federal High Court to compel 18 commercial banks to refund the said fund which was transferred to their customers.

The money, MPSBL said, was erroneously and fraudulently transferred in 700,000 transactions into about 8,000 accounts belonging to the customers

The subsidiary also urged the court to order the banks to provide information about the customers into whose accounts the funds were mistakenly paid.

The requests form part of the reliefs in a suit filed by MPSBL through its lawyer, Lotana Okoli (SAN).

READ : MTN Nigeria’s Chief Risk Officer, Cyril Ilok resigns after s*xual abuse allegations

MPSBL averred that under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Regulation on Instant (Inter-Bank) Electronic Funds Transfer Services, made pursuant to sections 2(D), 33(1)6) and 47(2) of the CBN Act 2007,it is incumbent on the banks to make refunds and provide the required information.

MPSBL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anthony Usoro Anthony said in a supporting affidavit that his bank suffered “a system exploitation” on May 24, 2022, during which 700,000 transactions were processed with credits being made into about 8,000 accounts in the 18 banks being requested to make the refunds.

Anthony averred that upon becoming aware of the incident, MPSBL’s management shut down the service to limit the impact and triggered engagements with the defendants (the 18 banks) through the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) for the commencement of recovery activities from the accounts of the various beneficiaries in the various banks.

He added: “We were able, through system checks, to confirm the banks and accounts into which the various sums of money were transferred into.

“We were also able to confirm how much was paid into each bank account in total. The said list of accounts which received the funds was made available to the respective banks as a preliminary step to mitigate the applicant’s losses.

“The transfers were due to the fact that the plaintiff suffered a system exploitation which led to the said debits.

“There is no transaction between the plaintiff and the recipient account holders that warranted the transfer of the funds to those account,” he said.

Anthony added that his organisation’s resort to the court was informed by the banks’ insistence that they needed to be ordered by the court before they could act.

The MPSBL CEO stated that the organisation was “carrying out investigations internally and externally to ascertain the actual cause of the debits”.

He added: “The defendant banks have requested an order of court mandating the defendant banks to reverse the credits made into their customers’ accounts before the defendants can do so. “

“The plaintiff is entitled to a return of its money and has demanded the return of the money into its settlement account in the name MOMO PSB settlement account number: 2041379385 held in First Bank Plc, Samuel Asabia House, 35 Marina, Lagos.

“It is the understanding of the plaintiff that prior to the defendant banks being informed of the fact that the credits into their customer accounts were unauthorised that some withdrawal transactions had already been carried out by some of the customers.

“This has necessitated the application for information regarding these customers and the banks and accounts to which they transferred the said funds in order to enable the plaintiff to trace the funds to those banks.

“By virtue of the provisions of the CBN Regulation on Instant (Inter-Bank) Electronic Funds Transfer Services, made pursuant to sections 2(D), 33(1)6) And 47(2) of the CBN Act 2007 the plaintiff is entitled to a return of its money and the provision of the information which it requires from the defendants.

“The plaintiff is also entitled to the support of the defendants in the recovery of any sums which have been removed from the customer accounts in the defendant banks the reliefs it is aiming in this action.”

The plaintiff is praying the court for the following reliefs:

* A declaration that the deposits of an aggregate sum of N22,300,000,000.00 erroneously transferred by the plaintiff to the accounts of the customers of the defendant banks, having been done in error, belong to the plaintiff and not the customers of the defendant banks.

* An order directing the defendant banks to each, individually, account for the sums available in their customers’ accounts and the sums which have been removed by the customers and are no longer available.

* An order directing the defendants banks to immediately return the aggregate sum of N22,300,000,000.00, less those funds that are no longer available, to the plaintiffs settlement account in the name MOMO PSB settlement account number: 2041379385 at First Bank Plc Samuel Asabia House 35 Marina, Lagos, from where the funds originated.

* An order directing the defendant banks to release all information, including account name information in respect of the accounts from which the plaintiff’s funds have been transferred to third parties, including the destination accounts and the banks in which they are held to assist in the tracing and recovery of those funds.

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Safe driving: FRSC commissions Dangote truck driving school…Dangote also trains block makers in Kano, Katsina to prevent building collapse

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Safe driving: FRSC commissions Dangote truck driving school…Dangote also trains block makers in Kano, Katsina to prevent building collapse

Leading Cement manufacturer, Dangote Cement Plc, on Wednesday launched the Dangote Articulated Truck Driving School in a move aimed at inculcating safe driving culture in its drivers so as to stem the tide of road crashes.

The opening of the school in partnership with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the Company management reasoned, would also make the drivers become better road users.

The Academy, which was officially commissioned by Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr. Boboye Olayemi Oyeyemi, was characterized as historic and unique.

The new Academy for truck drivers, according to the Corps Marshal, is a significant step forward that will benefit not only the Dangote Group but Nigeria as a whole.

The country’s top road safety official hailed Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of the Dangote Group, for taking “a big step” towards reducing truck accidents.

He said: “This is what we’ve been waiting for. You made it. I have observed that Dangote has done a lot to address truck crashes and I must commend them for this.”

He extolled the conglomerate for leading other companies on this path, saying the new school will play a key part in the country’s efforts to make roads safer.

He said he had suggested such a school long ago, adding that he is happy that the school has come to fruition.

In his remarks, the National Director, Logistics of the Dangote Cement (Transport section) Mr. Juan Carlos Rincon, said the new school is an expression of the determination of the company to bring to halt the incidences of auto crash in the country.

Speaking also Executive Secretary National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) Professor Idris Bugaje who was represented by Engr S.M. Yusuf, said the NBTE will partner with the Dangote Cement Plc for a successful accreditation and takeoff of the new school.

In his remarks, the Bajana of Obajana HRH Oba Idowu Isenibi said he was optimistic that the school will help address auto crashes in the country, even as he described the President of the Dangote Group Aliko Dangote as a “rescuer and God sent to their communities that should be emulated by other investors in the country.

Speaking in the same vein, the Olu of Akpata Oba Frederick Balogun urged other investors to emulate the company.

Both the Dangote Cement Transport and the FRSC signed a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) on how to cooperate to ensure that the school is a success.

In the same vein, Dangote Cement organized thorough block molding training for block makers in both Kano and Katstina states respectively. This, according to the company is to ensure that the blocks moulded for building constructions are strong, reliable, and durable, noting that some block makers do not really know how to make strong and reliable blocks.

The Coordinator of the programme, Mr. Johnson Olaniyi, said the workshop would give the block molders and allied product manufacturers the opportunity to once again build capacity and adhere to global best practices.

Mr. Olaniyi said the Dangote Cement Plc is desirous of reversing the trend of collapse building through the capacity building of block manufacturers.

Meanwhile, government representatives, quality regulators, cement dealers, block makers, and end-users have come to an accord that Africa’s cement giant produces the best quality of cement on the continent.

The stakeholders who attended the meeting also said the ongoing nationwide workshop and sensitization of block manufacturers will help check the menace of collapsed buildings in the country.

Speaking at the workshop in Kano, representatives of the Kano State Government Alhaji Muhammad Garba Kwall said that Dangote Cement Plc is not only the biggest company but produces the best quality in Africa.

He described the company as socially responsible and that’s why it is giving back to society through the sensitization workshop and creating various platforms for educating end users to mitigate the incessant incidences of collapse building in the country.

Speaking, Regional Director, Kano Directorate, Standard Organization of Nigeria(SON), Mr. Albert Wilberforce urged block molders to patronize the quality cement produced by the Dangote Cement Plc, adding that the SON was partnering with the company and ensuring that only quality cement are produced by the company.

In the same vein, The Kano State Coordinator (II) of SON Engr Hauwa M. Husseini urged the block moulders to comply with standard practice in order to prevent the menace of collapse buildings in the country.

Speaking also, Regional Sales Director for Northwest  Aliyu Dan Aliyu urged participants to be ambassadors by telling their customers about the quality of the cement.

He said: A customer who wants to build a house, doesn’t know the quality or type of cement to use. It is the responsibility of the builder to advise him on the desired cement to use for quality building.

Safe driving: FRSC commissions Dangote truck driving school…Dangote also trains block makers in Kano, Katsina to prevent building collapse

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Dangote Sugar Refinery Restates Commitment to FG’s Backward Integration policy …Rewards Shareholders with N12.147bn Dividend

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Dangote Sugar Refinery Restates Commitment to FG’s Backward Integration policy ...Rewards Shareholders with N12.147bn Dividend

Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc has restated its commitment to the achievement of Sugar Backward integration projects, describing it as the best thing that happened to the sector.

Speaking to shareholders at the 16th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Dangote Sugar Plc, in Lagos the Chairman of the Company, Aliko Dangote, said that despite the harsh operating environment, the board and management were not deterred in the pursuit of sustainable growth for the company and demonstrated resilience by continued implementation of its strategic objectives during the year, 2021.

The dividend pay-out of N12.147 billion for the year was unanimously approved by the shareholders.  The dividend represents N1.00 per share.

The Company under review posted a Group turnover of N276 billion, being 29 percent increase over N214 billion in the comparative year. Profit before tax of N34.021 billion, profit after tax of N22.052 billion. Group EBITDA decreased to N46.5 billion with an EBITDA margin of 18 percent.

According to Dangote, the Company’s performance during the year under review is commendable amidst the challenges and the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on economic activities. “We furthered the implementation of process optimisation, cost savings, and product promotion strategies with the launch of our new brand identity and the pursuit of the Dangote Sugar Backward integration master plan”

He further stated that the Board and Management will continue to implement strategic actions to sustain and surpass this performance while engaging with all stakeholders in the sector and its communities to ensure the realisation of the objectives of the Company.

On the company’s backward integration project, Dangote chairman emphasised that the goal of Dangote Sugar Backward Integration Projects Master plan remains the achievement of 1.5 million MT annually from locally grown sugar cane in support of the quest for sugar sufficiency in the country by the federal government.

He added that this will be achieved in addition to the extended value chain benefits that will be derived from the projects including thousands of jobs that will be generated in the sector from these projects.

He pointed out that despite the challenges faced in the year 2021, Dangote Sugar Numan Operations rehabilitation and expansion efforts of the factory and field are advancing, saying “The community tissues that came up were effectively managed, and we have continued to advance so far without any major disruptions.”

He also noted that “In 2021, our commitment to building a sustainable business remained on track with the principles of good corporate governance. We imbibed best practices, environmental and impact management in the day-today running of our business.”

He assured of the company’s commitment to the achievement of Sugar Backward integration projects, which is the future of the industry in Nigeria, saying this will keep us on our sustained growth path and we will continue to deliver and improve our quality service while delivering value to all stakeholders.

Also, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive officer of Dangote Sugar, Mr. Ravindra Singhvi said that “We remained ahead of the pack in implementation of the National Sugar backward Integration Development Master Plan.”

He however said that the situation at the Lau/Tau project is still the same, “we continue to remain hopeful that the Taraba State government will resolve the lingering issues with the communities, while we focus on the development of other brown and green field project sites…Steady progress is now being made as we continue the rehabilitation and expansion project at Dangote Sugar, Numan, and development activities at the Nasarawa Sugar Company Limited, Tunga.”

Singhvi stated that the Company remains resolute and committed to ensuring a sustainable future for its business while assuring the shareholders of better days ahead.

The shareholders commended the Company’s performance for the year under review. A shareholder, Mrs. Bisi Bakare, commended the company for the food fortification award received for the year under review and the bountiful dividend paid.

Another shareholder, Mr Patrick Ajudua, also expressed satisfaction with dividends declared particularly at a time like this with the various environmental operating challenges.

He charged the management to improve upon the capacity utilisation of the plant to be better positioned to meet local and export needs.

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION:

dangote

L-R: Chairman, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Aliko Dangote; Group Managing Director/CEO, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Ravindra Singhvi; and Non-Executive Director, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Olakunle Alake at the 16th Annual General Meeting of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc held in Lagos on June 15, 2022

 

L-R: Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Temitope Hassan; Chairman, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Aliko Dangote; Group Managing Director/CEO, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Ravindra Singhvi; and Non-Executive Director, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Olakunle Alake at the 16th Annual General Meeting of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc held in Lagos on June 15, 2022

 

L-R: Non-Executive Director, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Abdu Dantata; Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Temitope Hassan; Chairman, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Aliko Dangote; Group Managing Director/CEO, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Ravindra Singhvi; Non-Executive Director, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Olakunle Alake, at the 16th Annual General Meeting of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc held in Lagos on June 15, 2022

 

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