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Picketing of NIMC: Management Debunks ASCSN’s Allegations

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On Tuesday May 12, 2015, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, made good its threat, widely published in the newspapers recently, to picket the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) over claims that Management planned to ‘sack over 1,000 staff’ who are members of the ASCSN, which NIMC management on Thursday debunked.

They further alleged impunity on the side of Management, claimed that the NIMC under the leadership of Chris ‘E Onyemenam, the director general, whom the Union wanted sacked by the Government, had not delivered on the mandate of the NIMC, in particular, the issuance of national eID Cards.

They further alleged financial misconduct, corruption and unfair labour practices.

During the picketing action, the ASCSN prevented staff members of the NIMC who are members of the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transportation and Corporations, SSACTAC, from entering the office in Lagos, Minna and our Head Office here in Abuja. Picketing does not mean locking out staff members by another Union whose members have a criminal case to answer.

But a statement sent to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek by the management of NIMC read: “These allegations and claims are false and an unfortunate misrepresentation of facts. They are malicious and calculated to discredit the Board, Top Management and the person of the DG over the handling of disciplinary cases of staff members found to have falsified their service records. The current actions and utterances of the representatives of ASCSN, which signed an agreement with the Management of NIMC in 2012 over this issue is unfortunate and suspicious.

“It is not true that Management plans to declare redundancy or undertake any retrenchment. Rather, Management had administratively dealt with cases of falsification of service records by some senior members of staff.

“Due process was followed, including the proper convening and seating of a Disciplinary Committee with all Observer Status Offices duly represented, obeying all Court Orders regarding the administrative process since July 2014, responding to requests for explanations and clarifications, etc. from supervisory and other appropriate authorities of Government.

“Management has not behaved with impunity nor did it disobey any Court Orders. All due processes were followed and appropriate approvals obtained as necessary by NIMC Management in the discharge of its duties.

“Management has ensured that all Annual Accounts of the NIMC are audited and approved by the Board before submission to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation as required by law. It is also published on our website as part of an annual report on the NIMC for each year. The 2014 Accounts that has just been approved by the Board will be published shortly.

“Management can confirm that the National Identity Management System (NIMS) has been in operation since February 23, 2012 with about 404 Enrolment Centres nationwide. The NIMS went live on a Pilot basis in 2012 and NIMC is currently focusing on a large scal deployment through various ways including harmonization and integration of other ongoing data gathering activties across MDAs and in the private sector”.

The statement also clarified that the NIMS infrastructure was first certified as ISO 27001:2005 compliant in 2014 and was recertified as ISO 27001:2013 compliant in April 2015.

The Card Personalization Infrastructure was audited and certified under the Global Vendors Certification Programme (GVCP) in 2014 and has just been audited for recertification a week ago.

“It is unfortunate that on a day the National eID Card is being internationally recognized as the ‘Best African Payment Initiative in 2014, it is being disparaged at home. The National eID Card is currently being distributed across the Federation from our State Offices. It is regrettable that some members of staff with questionable service records who have been slowing down the pace of the implementation of the NIMS are now bent on disrupting the smooth arrangement put in place for citizens to enrol and subsequently come to collect their eID Cards at their convenience and upon notification.

“Furthermore, it is not true that NIMC has planned to sack or retrench 1,000 workers. However 406 senior members of staff who falsified their service records and thus have been profiting from that fraud, have been formally reported to the appropriate offices for further action”.

According to the NIMC management, the issues at stake are as follows: falsification of Service Records to wit; fake appointment letters; fake promotion letters; fake conversion/advancement letters;

Did NIMC provide opportunity for fair hearing to the parties involved?

The statement read, “Yes we did, to wit- verification of staff service records; issuance of query to affected staff; analyses of response to query and verification of documents attached to response; invitation to attend a duly constituted Disciplinary Committee Meeting; obtaining necessary approvals for the recommendations of the Committee; implementation of the approvals – proper placement for those exculpated and issuance of dismissal letters for those found culpable in line with the Public Service Rules”.

They added that “Formal Report to appropriate authorities in respect of the criminal acts, for further action.

“Accordingly the action embarked upon by the ASCSN is an attempt to take attention away from the facts and issues as stated above.

“In respect of other allegations, we wish to state that NO staff member who is qualified and applied was denied the right to go on annual leave. It is also not true that female staff are discouraged from getting pregnant, it is in fact unthinkable. We have always followed due process in all our recruitment exercise.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Management has remained focused on implementing the NIMS, in particular, the Federal Executive Council approval in September 2011,” the statement read in part.

 


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Microsoft Moves into 5G Race with Azure Cloud for Telecom Operators

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Microsoft Corp unveiled a new cloud platform on Monday aimed at enabling telecom operators to build 5G networks faster, reduce costs and sell customised services to business clients.

After banning China’s Huawei from its telecom network, the U.S. government has been pushing big American companies such as Microsoft to get more involved with 5G – a technology which promises to enable everything from self-driving cars to remote surgery and more automated manufacturing.

The new platform will be on Azure, Microsoft’s flagship cloud computing business, and the company says it will reduce infrastructure costs, give flexibility to add services on demand and use artificial intelligence to automate operations.

Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president for Azure Networking, told Reuters that it could cut costs by 30%-40% in some cases.

The developer of Windows and Office software entered the 5G arena after its acquisition of cloud networking companies Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch earlier this year.

“The telco DNA was obtained through those acquisitions and we went from a small number of engineers in this space to literally hundreds of engineers,” said Khalidi. “On the other hand, the foundational pieces, including edge compute, we have had in a pipeline for many years.”

The company has already partnered with companies ranging from telecom operators such as Verizon VZ.N and AT&T T.N to network equipment firms such as Samsung 005930.KS and Mavenir to either use or sell the new platform to clients.

Microsoft’s move will increase competition for existing 5G service vendors like Nokia NOKIA.HE and Ericsson ERICb.ST, said CCS Insight analyst Nicholas McQuire.


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Interior Ministry Boosts Digitization Process with New ICT Projects

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Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, over the weekend commissioned the e-Library, e-Law Library, CCTV Surveillance network services and other projects in his office in Abuja to digitize work processes and procedures in the Ministry.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Georgina Ekeoma Ehuriah, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said that the projects were part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts at repositioning the Ministry for better performance in line with its mandate of providing internal security and citizenship integrity for Nigerians and foreigners alike.

According to him, the e-Library will avail officers the opportunity to access the right information, in the right form and time.

“The e-Library gives our legal and other officers 24/7 access to a wide range of online resources, which can be updated in real time and we believe this will enhance the quality of their work to the benefit of the Ministry”, he said.

The Minister further assured of government’s commitment to putting in place measures that will boost staff capacity and also ensure self-development, with a view to ensuring proper implementation of projects, policies and programmes that will improve the lives of Nigerians which would lead to economic transformation in line with the present Administration’s policy thrust.

Aregbesola emphasized that crime and criminality has become complex to handle, the world over, hence the need to deploy modern technology to fight it.

He therefore called on staff to see the projects as morale booster for self-development and urged them to continue to support the efforts of government towards improving the lives of its citizens.

Earlier, Lanre Adesuyi, the Chief Executive Officer, Havillah Merchants Limited, thanked the Minister for giving them the opportunity to provide workers with state of the art equipment for efficient service delivery.

On his own part, Mr. Mohammed Mustapha, the Managing Director, Aliph Technologies, called on government at all levels to see the deployment of modern technology as one of the best ways to tackle security challenges in the contemporary world.


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Heritage Bank, PWC, Deloitte Canvass Use of Tech to Tackle Fraud & Rescind Effects of Covid-19

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Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s Most Innovative Banking Service provider has called on internal auditors of banks to adopt the various digital technologies to prevent fraud and annul the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the financial ecosystem.

Ifie Sekibo, managing director/CEO of Heritage Bank, speaking at the just concluded 47th Quarterly Meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria (ACAEBIN), disclosed that for improved banking operations and safer financial system for stakeholders, internal auditors must be dynamic and quick to adopt various digital measures.

Raising the alarming impact of fraudulent activities in the banking sector, Sekibo quoted PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC’s) Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020, revealing that that the total cost of cybercrimes is worth an eye-watering $42 billion, which was cash taken straight off companies’ bottom line, whilst 13% of those who had experienced  fraud said they had lost $50 million-plus.

Sekibo, who spoke on the theme, “Elevating Internal Audit’s Role in the Face of Emerging Risks and Opportunities” organised virtually and hosted by the Heritage Bank, urged, “While it was sufficient for yesterday’s auditor to understand regular and routine banking practices such as credit, treasury, etc in his traditional assurance role, for him to be relevant in harnessing the opportunities in today’s business world, he must become versed in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data analytics, fraud management, regulatory pronouncements, forensics etc and having equipped himself, present balanced, objective audit reports to Executive Management while striking the right balance between the assurance and consulting responsibilities.”

In her keynote address, titled, “Elevating Internal Audit Role In The Face Of Emerging Risks and Opportunities,” Ibukun Beecroft, Partner Risk Advisory at Deloitte, noted that the banking industry in Nigeria today has adopted various digital measures to keep the business running and delivering services to the customers but there was need for Internal Audit (IA) positioned to provide the required assurance and consulting services in the face of the changes and attendant risk, particularly increased cyber-risks.

Quoting 2018 Financial Stability Report by the Central Bank of Nigeria, she stated that Banks recorded 25,029 confirmed cases of fraud and this resulted in a loss of N2.21 billion. More than 90% of fraud cases in 2018 were perpetrated via technologically driven channels.

“As Internal Auditors, the knowledge of technology would enable us identify gaps in our core banking applications and other applications and provide relevant recommendations to eliminating loopholes that may serve as an avenue for potential fraud.

She, however, advised auditors on the need to focus on advanced technologies and risk management operations as reflected around the Three Lines of Defense (3LOD) churned out by the Institute of Internal Auditors, which create opportunities for IA and its future role.

Beecroft warned that the ever-changing landscape and evolving risks in the banking industry could render the current internal audit plan obsolete.

According to her, internal auditors should reprioritise the audit plan as soon as possible to provide assurance over the most consequential risks while being cognisant of the impact on operations.

“To take advantage of these changes and disruptions, auditors need to rethink their role by adapting to and embracing change, enabling the IA function to become more agile, nimble, and forward-looking, thus driving change through the 3LOD,” Beecroft stated.

Yetunde Oladeji, director Internal Audit Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited (PWC), who spoke on the theme, “Elevating IA’s role to meet today’s emerging risks,” advised that the banking sector should be dynamic, prioritse digitization and flexibible workforce strategies as these would determine its ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances to survive and thrive.


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