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Man Utd Seeks End To Nightmare At Stamford Bridge

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Man Utd’s Wayne Rooney (left) putting pressure on Chelsea’s skipper, John Terry in a previous  encounter.

Man Utd’s Wayne Rooney (left) putting pressure on Chelsea’s skipper, John Terry in a previous encounter.

Manchester United will be chasing their first victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in nearly a decade today as the English giants collide in a heavyweight UEFA Champions League quarter-final.

United are riding high in the Premier League after a weekend which saw them open up a potentially decisive seven-point lead at the top of the table, leaving them firmly on cause for a record nineteenth title. But Sir Alex Ferguson is only too aware that there are few more demanding propositions for his team than facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, where the Red Devils have not won since 2002.

Perhaps more pertinently, Chelsea have won their last three fixtures against United, a sequence which includes last month’s stormy 2-1 league defeat that led to Ferguson receiving a five-match touchline ban. Nevertheless, Ferguson believes his team is more than capable of repeating their 2008 Champions League final victory over Chelsea in Moscow over this year’s quarter-final legs.

Chelsea’s strong record against United, Ferguson argued, owed as much to good fortune as anything else. “I think they’ve had important breaks against us, I really do,” Ferguson said. “I think everyone recognises that in the last four games the major decisions have gone Chelsea’s way.

“We beat them in the European final, we were the better team in that final. We were the better team a few weeks ago at Chelsea. We have the quality, there’s no question about that. We could do with a bit of luck against them, but we don’t have a problem with them.”

David Luiz, the star of Chelsea’s victory over United last month and a key figure in the Blues recent resurgent league form, is ineligible for Champions League duty. But Carlo Ancelotti’s other January transfer buy – £50 million striker Fernando Torres – is available.

Many observers, Ferguson among them, believe the timing of Chelsea’s acquisition of Torres in January was specifically linked to the Spaniard’s eligibility for the business end of the Champions League, the only major title that has eluded the Londoners since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich took the club over in 2003.

“I think Abramovich has earmarked this as the one he wants to win and that’s why they signed Fernando Torres,” Ferguson said. “That is the obvious reason to bring in a player for £50 million in January with four months of the season to go. To me, that’s the obvious target – the European Cup.”

In Chelsea’s case, barring a miraculous turnaround in the championship, Europe is also the only target. Ancelotti, whose job may be at risk if Chelsea finish the season without a trophy, denies that winning in Europe has become an obsession for the club. “We know very well how important it is for us to win this title,” Ancelotti said. “It’s not an obsession, it’s a dream.”

Meanwhile, Barcelona took a decisive step towards winning the Spanish league for the third consecutive time at the weekend and now turn their attention to the UEFA Champions League where they face Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

Coach Pep Guardiola has overseen a remarkable run of success since taking over at the Nou Camp in the summer of 2008 and now Barça enter the final stages of the season fighting on three fronts. When Guardiola arrived, Barcelona were in disarray with coach Frank Rijkaard having left under a cloud, unable to maintain discipline in the dressing room, and they had to play the qualifying round of the Champions League. In his first season Barça won an unprecedented six trophies and then last year they won the league and cup double while Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan knocked them out of the Champions League in an epic tie.

Barça arrive at the quarter-finals in impressive form domestically as they are now eight points clear of Mourinho’s Real Madrid after they beat Villarreal 1-0 at the weekend. It appeared a difficult game on paper but despite a number of absentees they were always in control.

In defence Carles Puyol, Eric Abidal and Maxwell were all out while Pedro Rodriguez was also injured and Leo Messi only fit enough to start on the bench. Meanwhile, Xavi Hernandez was missing through suspension. Pedro is expected to be ready to face Shakhtar with Messi and Maxwell also fit but Puyol is unlikely to  make it in time, so it is likely that Sergio Busquets will play at centre-half alongside Gerard Pique.

With Barça also playing the final of the Copa del Rey at the end of this month, striker David Villa admits that the next few weeks will be key to the success of their season. “At the moment I would not accept two out of the three titles. We have some very big games coming up now and that is the reason why I came here. We have to get a good result against Shakhtar at home so that we don’t suffer too much in the return leg,” he said, while also hoping to bring an end to his poor run in front of goal.

Despite having become the all-time top goal scorer for Spain, with two recent strikes against the Czech Republic, he has not found the back of the net in six games for Barça. “I am not going to score by sitting down here and saying it a 1000 times. When you are not scoring you think about a lot of things but what I have to do is work hard and be calm.”

Barça are looking for their ninth straight Champions League home win but Shakhtar, playing for the first time in the quarter-finals, travel with some optimism. While Barça beat them in the UEFA Super Cup in August 2009, the Ukrainians won the last time they met at the Nou Camp, a 3-2 win in their final game of the 2008/09 Champions League group stage.

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RSG, Not FIRS, Entitled To Collect VAT, Related Taxes In Rivers -Court

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The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has declared that it is the Rivers State Government, not the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), should collect Valued Added Tax (VAT) and Personal Income Tax (PIT) in the state.
The court, presided over by Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam, also issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Attorney General of the Federation, both first and second defendants in the suit, from collecting, demanding, threatening and intimidating residents of Rivers State to pay to FIRS, PIT and VAT.
Pam made the assertion while delivering judgement in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, filed by the Attorney General for Rivers State (plaintiff), against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (first defendant) and the Attorney General of the Federation (second defendant).
The court, which granted all the 11 reliefs sought by the Rivers State Government, stated that there was no constitutional basis for the FIRS to demand for and collect VAT, Withholding Tax (WHT), Education Tax and Technology Levy in Rivers State or any other state of the federation, being that the constitutional powers and competence of the Federal Government was limited to taxation of incomes, profits and capital gains, which do not include VAT or any other species of sales, or levy other than those specifically mentioned in Items 58 and 59 of the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution.
The judge dismissed the preliminary objections filed by the defendants that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the suit and that the case should be transferred to Court of Appeal for interpretation.
Pam, who also dismissed objection raised by the defendants that the National Assembly ought to have been made a party in the suit, declared that the issues of taxes raised by the state government were issues of law that the court was constitutionally empowered to entertain.
He declared that after a diligent review of the issues raised by bothplaintiff and the defendants, the plaintiff had proven beyond doubt that it was entitled to all the 11 reliefs sought in the suit.
The court agreed with the Rivers State Government that it was the state and not FIRS that was constitutionally entitled to impose taxes enforceable or collectable in its territory of the nature of consumption or sales tax, VAT, education and other taxes or levies, other than the taxes and duties specifically reserved for the Federal Government by Items 58 and 59 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Also, the court declared that the defendants were not constitutionally entitled to charge or impose levies, charges or rates (under any guise or by whatever name called) on the residents of Rivers State, and indeed, any state of the federation.
Among the reliefs sought by the Rivers State Government, was a declaration that the constitutional power of the Federal Government to impose taxes and duties was only limited to the items listed in Items 58 and 59 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The Rivers State Government had also urged the court to declare that, by virtue of the provisions of Items 7 and 8 of the Part II (Concurrent Legislative List) of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, the power of the Federal Government to delegate the collection of taxes can only be exercised by the state government or other authority of the state, and no other person.
The state government had further asked the court to declare that all statutory provisions made or purportedly made in the exercise of the legislative powers of the Federal Government, which contains provisions which are inconsistent with or in excess of the powers to impose tax and duties, as prescribed by Items 58 and 59 of the Part I of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, or inconsistent with the power to delegate the duty of collection of taxes, as contained in Items 7 and 8 of Part II of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, were unconstitutional, null and void.
Lead counsel for the Rivers State Government, Donald Chika Denwigwe (SAN), who spoke to journalists after the court session, explained that the case was all about the interpretation of the Constitution as regards the authority of the government at the state and federal levels to collect certain revenues, particularly, VAT.
“So, during the determination of the matter, some issues of law were thrown up like, whether or not the case should be referred to the Court of Appeal for the determination of some issues.
“The court noted that the application is like asking the Federal High Court to transfer the entire case to the Court of Appeal. In which case, if the court so decides, there will be nothing left to refer back to the Federal High Court as required by the Constitution.”
According to Denwigwe, the court refused that prayer, and decided that the case was in its proper place before the Federal High Court, and was, therefore, competent to determine it.
Speaking on the implications of the judgement, Denwigwe said it was now, unlawful for such taxes as VAT in Rivers State to be collected by any agency of the Federal Government.
“In a summary, it is a determination that it is wrong for the Federal Government to be collecting taxes which are constitutionally reserved for the state governments to collect. The implication of the judgement is that the government (federal and state) as an authority under the constitution,should be advised by the judgement that it is the duty of all government authorities to comply with and obey the law so long as the court has interpreted it and said what that law is.
“So, in other words, the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the territory of Rivers State and Personal Income Tax should be reserved for the government of Rivers State.”
Counsel to FIRS, O.C. Eyibo said he will study the judgment and advise his client.

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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