Following public concerns on the legality of mobile courts to prosecute violators of the COVID-19 directives in the FCT, the Solicitor General of the Federal Capital Territory, Barrister Yusuf Wodi has said that the mobile courts are legally and duly constituted by the FCT Administration through the Chief Judge of the FCT, in line with Section 7 of the Quarantine Act of 2004, which vests jurisdiction to try violations under the Quarantine Act on Magistrate Courts.
Speaking during a press briefing, Wodi said that in keeping with the Quarantine Act therefore, a total of 13 Magistrate Courts with full complement of staff stationed at strategic locations within and outside the capital city have been constituted and are now operational.
The courts, according to the Solicitor General, are guided by approved rules of procedure in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act.
Barrister Wodi further explained that necessary protocols have been put in place to ensure fairness, justice and above all, the implementation of the primary objective to safe guard public health.
In his words, “the primary responsibility of the administration as guaranteed by the constitution is to ensure public health and order. Government does not derive any pleasure in the curtailment of anybody’s freedom. Likewise, government is not interested in causing unnecessary hardship on the residents”
Barrister Wodi further said that as a responsible administration, the FCTA is guided by the rule of law and has taken advantage of existing laws and international best practices in setting up the courts.
The courts according to him are not new but existing courts only assigned to deal with the enforcement of the COVID-19 regulations as a global emergency.
The FCT Administration, he continued was concerned about some growing misconceptions by some residents of the FCT, particularly on the Social Media and hence the need to make the clarifications.
On the penalties for those found guilty, the Solicitor General said that was left at the discretion of the magistrates in line with the provisions of the law.
On intervention loans, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN says interested stakeholders must meet its set criteria to access its N50bn intervention loans for small and medium scale enterprises.
The CBN introduced the N50bn Targeted Credit Facility as a stimulus package to support households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and guidelines to access the funds.
To access the loans, the Apex Bank stated that, “Eligible households or MSMEs shall submit applications directly to NIRSAL Microfinance Bank; and the application must, among others, contain BVN number, business registration (where applicable) and business plan with clear evidence of the opportunity or adverse impact as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
“NMFB shall appraise and conduct due diligence applications; upon a satisfactory appraisal of application, NMFB shall forward the applications to the CBN for final approval; and CBN reviews applications and gives final approval for disbursement to NMFB.”
The bank stated that eligible participants were households and existing enterprises with verifiable evidence of business activities adversely affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and enterprises with bankable plans to take advantage of opportunities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Activities covered under the guidelines include agricultural value chain activities, hospitality (accommodation and food services), health (pharmaceuticals and medical supplies), airline service providers, manufacturing/value addition, trading, and any other income-generating activities as may be prescribed by the CBN”
It stated that the eligible participating financial institution for the scheme was NIRSAL Microfinance Bank.
The CBN said the loan amount would be determined based on the activity, cashflow and industry/segment size of the beneficiary, subject to a maximum of N25m for SMEs; and households could access a maximum of N3m.
It stated that working capital would be a maximum of 25 per cent of the average of the previous three years’ annual turnover (where the enterprise was not up to three years in operation, 25 percent of the previous year’s turnover would suffice).
It added that interest rate under the intervention would be five per cent per annum (all inclusive) up to 28th February 2021 and thereafter, the interest on the facility would revert to nine per cent (all inclusive) as from 1st March 2021.
The regulator stated that working capital would be for a maximum period of one year, with no option for rollover, while term loan would have a maximum tenor of not more than three years with, at least, one year moratorium.
It further stated that the collateral to be pledged by beneficiaries under the programme must be acceptable by NIRSAL MFB, but may include any one or more of others which are moveable assets duly registered on the National Collateral Registry; simple deposit of title documents, in perfectible state; and deed of debenture (for stocks), in perfectible state.
Others were irrevocable domiciliation of proceeds; two acceptable guarantors; personal guarantee of the promoter of the business; life insurance of the key-man, with NMFB noted as the first loss payee; and comprehensive insurance over the asset.