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148 Killed By Floods -Red Cross …Mass Exodus, As Gunmen Kill 40 In Mubi

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President Goodluck Jonathan (middle) flanked by Vice President Namadi Sambo (4th left), Senate President David (2nd Mark(2nd right), former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme (right) and others as he cuts the anniversary cake in Abuja, on Monday

The Head, Disaster Management, Nigerian Red Cross Society
(NRCS), Mr Umar Mairiga,  said yesterday
that 148 people had died as a result of flooding in 21 states of the
federation.

Mairiga told a news briefing in Abuja that 64,000 others had
been rendered homeless by the floods, adding that about 10,000 victims had been
targeted for assistance.

He said that heavy rains in recent weeks had caused
widespread destruction and forced many families into makeshift camps.

According to him, an estimated 134,000 people had now been
affected by the floods and that concern was growing about the spread of
waterborne diseases such as cholera.

“We are targeting 10,000 people in 10 locations of Adamawa,
Taraba, Kogi, Plateau, Katsina, Cross River, Jigawa, Kogi, Benue and Edo,” he
said.

Mairiga explained that in response to the worsening crisis,
the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) had
launched an emergency appeal for funds.

The decision, he said, was to aid the Nigerian Red Cross
Society to assist 10,000 victims.

According to him, a Field Assessment and Coordination Team
(FACT) and a Regional Disaster Response Team (RDRT) have been deployed to
support the relief effort.

He said that N33.5 million had been provided from the IFRC’s
Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to start the operation.

“The NRCS, with support from the IFRC and other partners,
has been distributing food and non-food items, including mosquito nets, shelter
tool kits, tarpaulins, hygiene kits and kitchen sets to affected families.

“Volunteers from the organisation are also carrying out
awareness-raising campaigns for people at risk from water borne diseases,’’ he
said.

Mairiga explained that one of the major concerns was the
development of a serious health situation due to the spread of water borne
diseases such as gastro-enteritis..

He also commended the National Emergency Management Agency
(NEMA) for its “untiring’’ efforts in handling flood issues.

Meanwhile, three persons were feared dead and several others
injured in a heavy flooding which ravaged parts of Ogba Egbema/Ndoni Local
Government Area.

Among the dead are, seven year old boy who was swept away by
the flood into the River Niger and two elderly women from Obrikom and Ndoni,
respectively who drowned while returning from farm.

Apart from the deaths the floods also destroyed farmlands.
Worst affected communities include, Ebocha, Ndoni, Okwuzi, Obrikom, Idu and
parts of Omoku communities.

At Ebocha, residents told The Tide that, reptiles such as
snakes and crocodiles are now occupying their houses.

Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has described the
flood which ravaged  parts of
OgbaEgbema/Ndoni Local Government Area as one of the worst disasters in the
state.

The Commissioner for Special Duties, Engr Emeka Nworgu who
said this during an inspection of the affected communities said that the
government is touched by the devastating effects of the flooding.

Engr Nworgu said that the
state government would work out modalities towards assisting the flood
victims.

The commissioner, however said that the level of devastation
has underscored the need for the federal government to come to the aid of the
victims.

“At this point, the state can do very little, we asked that
the federal government should come to our aid here’ he said.

Also speaking, the Chairman of Ogba Egbema/Ndoni Local
Government Area, Hon Raymond Nwokacho said that the counsel will take inventory
of those affected by the flooding with a view to assisting them.

Hon Nwokocha also said that the level of disaster is beyond
the capacity of  the local government
council and urged for the support of the federal and  state government.

In a related development, at least 40 people, mostly
students, have been killed by unknown gunmen in Mubi, Adamawa State officials
say.

Most of the dead are said to be students of Federal
Polytechnic, Mubi.

A college spokesman said 40 students had been killed, while
a local resident said that more than 40 people had been shot dead or stabbed.

A lecturer, who spoke to newsmen confirmed seeing about 40
dead bodies after the shooting

The killings came days after a major operation against the
Boko Haram militant group in the town.

National Emergency Management Agency spokesman Yushua Shuaib
told our correspondent  that it was not
clear whether the attack was the work of Boko Haram, or the result of a dispute
between rival political groups at the university.

A Red Cross official who gave a conservative estimate, said
at least, 10 people had died.

Our correspondent recalls that mobile phone masts in the
area were recently attacked by unidentified militants, so getting information
from Mubi is difficult.

A resident, who did not want his name to be used, said that
men in military uniform went to a hall of residence away from the campus just
before midnight, got the students out of their rooms and ordered them to say
their names.

Some were then shot dead and others stabbed with knives, and
their bodies left in lines outside the buildings.

He said it was not clear why some were killed and others
spared – some of the dead were Muslims and others Christians.

He added that students and lecturers were now leaving the
town, many with tree branches over their cars – a traditional sign of
neutrality in Nigeria.

Other Mubi residents say they heard gunfire for about two
hours during the night and that those living near the hostel were also
targeted.

The authorities have imposed an indefinite curfew in the
town and ordered residents to stay indoors.

The university has been temporarily closed.

Meanwhile, the Adamawa State Police Public Relations
Officers, Mohammed Ibrahim, who confirmed the killings, said 25 people were
killed by the gunmen, 19 of them, polytechnic students.

Similarly, the killing of students of Federal Polytechnic
Mubi at Yelwan Tsamiya (an off-campus accommodation area) in Wuro Patuji area
of Mubi North Local Government of Adamawa state has caused an exodus from the
town by both students and staff of the institution.

Some of the fleeing lecturers of the polytechnic, said they
saw at least 10 truckloads of soldiers and mobile police men moving into the
troubled North-Eastern town.

After the killings, which were said to have been carried out
around 10pm by gunmen that stormed the students’ village in Sports Utility
Vehicles (SUVs), angry students stormed the school carrying leaves and branches
in protest, stopping the second semester exams that were scheduled to take
place today.

As a result of the mass movement of people from the town,
the vehicles in the town’s motor park have been exhausted, with those not lucky
to board the polytechnic’s buses ferrying people to Mararaba area, trekking the
15-20 kilometres distance to get vehicles that will move them out of the town.

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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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