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Chibok Abduction ’ll End Terrorism In Nigeria; As Buhari Calls For United …Front Against Boko Haram -Jonathan

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President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday expressed optimism that the abduction of over 200 school girls in Chibok, Borno State would be the end to terror in the country.
The President said this at the opening plenary of the World Economic Forum on Africa holding in Abuja.
Jonathan, who said that Nigeria was proud to host the event for the first time it was coming to West Africa, thanked participants for coming at a time Nigeria was facing terror attacks.
Jonathan thanked China, the U.S., United Kingdom and France who volunteered to assist Nigeria in the rescue efforts of the girls and in fighting the terrorists
“Let me specially thank all of you for accepting to come. Especially this time that as a nation we are facing attacks from terrorists.
“Let me appreciate you individually and collectively for your support and your sentiment.
“In fact by your presence here in Nigeria at this time, you have already supported us to win the war.
“If you have refused to come because of fear, the terrorists would have jubilated and even have committed more havoc.
“Your coming here to support us morally is a major blow on the terrorists and by God’s grace we will conquer the terrorists.
“Let me use this opportunity to thank the other countries who have volunteered to help us in terms of rescuing the abducted girls. The government of China has promised to assist us and I believe that assistance will come almost immediately.
“U.S., UK and France have also spoken to me and expressed their commitment to assist us.
“I believe that the kidnapping of these girls will be the beginnig of end to terror in Nigeria,” he said.
The President said that the theme of the forum, “Creating Jobs and Inclusive Growth”, was critical to Nigeria, Africa and the world at large.
He said that job creation was a global challenge and nearly all countries of the world,of class and position, faced the problem of unemployment.
Jonathan noted that the unemployment problem in Africa was compounded by its youthful population.
He, therefore, tasked African leaders to place utmost priority on employment creation to forestall damning prediction of additional 122 million unemployed workforce by 2020.
President Jonathan said that wealth creation had been the main focus of his administration’s transformation agenda through mobilisation and diversification of the economy.
He also said that his government recognised that the private sector must be the agent of growth and job creation and it was, therefore, putting in place programmes to support the sector.
Jonathan said that the Nigerian economy had grown rapidly at about seven per cent in the last 10 years and the country was now the largest economy in Africa and 26th in the world.
He, however, said the robust economy was yet to translate into jobs creation and government was working hard to create job for people.
Specifically, Jonathan said government was focussing on specific sectors which has high job creation potentials such as agriculture, manufacturing, housing, construction and the servicing sectors.
Jonathan said that government was also giving priority attention to small and medium scale enterprises to create sustainable jobs.
Chinese Premier, Li Kequang, in a remark, said that Africa was a continent on the rise with 54 united countries, over two trillion dollars economic aggregate in 2013 and having seven out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world.
He promised that China would continue to support the much needed infrastructural development in African countries without interference in their internal democracies and governance.
Kequang noted that the economy of China and Africa was complimentary because while Africa had practical need for infrastructural and rural development  China had surplus in investments, construction and production.
He said China would increase its investment financing in Africa from 10 billion dollars, create a $30 billon credit facilities and provide an additional two billion dollars to China- Africa Development fund to bring it to five billion dollars.
Kequang also said that China would grant 18,000 scholarships in support of African Talent Plan and train 30,000 African professionals.
Meanwhile, former Head of State and leader of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Retired Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari has called for a united front by all Nigerians irrespective of religion and party affiliation on the fight against terror Islamist group, Boko Haram.
In a statement signed by the retired army general and made available to The Tide yesterday, Buhari praised the Federal Government for accepting international support in the search for the missing Chibok school girls.
In his words, “ Now is not the time to play politics. Now is also not the time to trade blames and amplify our ideological differences. The unity of Nigeria is not negotiable and nothing should divide us as a people. I therefore urge all Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to support the country in her effort to bring an end to this attack on defenceless citizens and indeed a united nation.”
The APC chieftain who had fought as a soldier to unite the country during the civil war said he wants to leave a country safe for his children and grand-children, while condemning Boko Haram as religious bigots, “it is clear from what they profess that they are not followers of God. They do not mean well for our country and her citizens. I am a Muslim, I am versed in the teaching of Christianity and I understand both religions to seek peaceful co-existence of all humanity.”
Continuing the ex-general said, “ I wish to reiterate that there is no justification whatsoever for this unrestrained disregard for the sanctity of human life. It has no place in the Holy Qu’ran and neither does it have a place in the Holy Bible.’’
He expressed hope that with a united front, the menace could be confronted and praised the nation’s armed forces for working to ensure safety of all citizens.
Gen. Buhari maintained that more could still be done by the Federal Government and the security forces to ensure a safer and better country for all citizens.
He also commiserated with families and all those who must have lost their loved ones in the violence and terror attacks unleashed by the fundamental Islamic group, and empathized with those whose daughters were abducted by the group, praying they would be released.

World Leaders at the opening of 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, yesterday

World Leaders at the opening of 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, yesterday

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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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