The#BringBackOurGirls protesters had filed a suit demanding N200 million as damages from the police commissioner.
Less than 24 hours after the Abuja Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, announced a ban on all rallies relating to the kidnapped Chibok girls, and a few minutes after protesters filed a N200 million suit against him, the Nigeria Police reversed the ban.
Mr. Mbu had while addressing a press conference on Monday said “Protests on the Chibok girls are hereby banned with immediate effect.”
However, a statement on Tuesday by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, faulted Mr. Mbu’s statement.
“The Police High Command wishes to inform the general public that the Force has not issued any order banning peaceful assemblies/protests anywhere in Nigeria,” Mr. Mba said.
Mr. Mbu had on Monday said the ban was placed to deter dangerous persons from infiltrating the peaceful #BringBackOurGirls protest that has been going on daily in the Nigerian capital for about a month.
“Information reaching us is that too soon, dangerous elements will join groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosives aimed at embarrassing the government,’’ he had said. “As the FCT police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness.”
Mr. Mba, however, said what the police issued was only an advisory.
“It (the police hierarchy) notes however that against the backdrop of current security challenges in the country, coupled with a recent intelligence report of a likely infiltration and hijack of otherwise innocuous and peaceful protests by some criminal elements having links with insurgents, the Police only issued advisory notice, enjoining citizens to apply caution in the said rallies, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory and its environs,” he said.
A few hours before the police hierarchy distanced itself from the Abuja police chief, the #BringBackOurGirls protesters had challenged Mr. Mbu’s directive in court.
The protesters filed a suit in the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, against the Nigeria Police seeking N200 million in damages for banning protests in the Nigerian capital.
The protest co-coordinator, Hadiza Bala-Usman, filed the suit on behalf of the protesters, who were represented by their counsel, Femi Falana.
The group asked the court to declare the ban as illegal and unlawful.
Ms. Usman said that the Nigerian police violated the Nigerian Constitution by banning the protest and demanded that the “court restrains the Nigerian Police force from implementing this illegal ban.”
“We have drawn the attention of the fact that section 38, 39 and 40 are been violated by this ban our activities ,we are hoping to get an injunction against the police force from implementing this illegal act,” she said.
She said the protesters would not be intimidated and will continue protesting since there is a law protecting their rights to do so.
“We know our rights and we shall not be intimidated by anyone we are mindful of the fact that this is contained in our constitution we shall continue with our protest while at the same time we have filled our suit in the FCT high court,” she said.
Another protester and the Secretary General of the Women’s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative, WRAPA, Saudatu Mahdi, told journalists that what they asking for is the upholding of their “fundamental Human Rights, freedom of consciences, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly as well as right to associate as guaranteed by section 38 39 and 40 of the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria”.
“We are also asking for declaration that the decision to ban protest and rallies relating to the Chibok girls is illegal unconstitutional and violates the fundamental rights in our constitution.”
The protesters asked the court to declare that Mr. Mbu is not competent to ban protests or rallies in city.
“We are asking for an order of perceptual injunction restraining him or his agents from further preventing us aggrieved Nigerians from taking part in any protest in exercise as the freedom of conscience extraction assembly. We are also asking for an order directing the respondent to pay to us the sum of N200 million as damages for the said act of violation,” Ms. Mahdi said.
After the protesters filled their suit, they proceeded from the Federal High Court to the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, carrying placards with inscriptions ‘bring back our girls’. They also chanted solidarity songs with the same message.
Dino Melaye, a former Nigerian legislator, led the march.
At the NHRC, the Director of Human Rights Institute, Oti Ovrawah, addressed the protesters and assured them of redress.
“We also heard about the ban, there is no doubt that there is a right to peaceful protest as guaranteed by the constitution,” he said. “We have heard your protest and we also want our girls to come back alive, there is no doubt we are going to take this up definitely because the constitution is the bedrock of Nigeria, so go about your protest peacefully.”
It was while the protesters were at the NHRC, that Mr. Mba released his statement.
Mr. Mba said the police only issued an advisory notice asking citizens to apply caution in the protests especially in Abuja because they had information they had intelligence report of a possible infiltration by criminal elements.
Ms. Usman, reacting to the Mr. Mba’s statement, told newsmen that it is ironic and ridiculous that in Nigeria, the Inspector General of Police says a different thing and the Commissioner of Police says another.
“It is important for us to note that these are within the Nigerian Police Force. We have the Inspector General of Police saying a different thing and the Commissioner of Police saying another thing.
We appreciate that the IG office has realized that we are protected under the Nigerian Constitution section 38, 39 and 40 which allows us to engage in peaceful processions.”
Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and counsel to the #BringBackOurGirls protesters, condemned the ban as announced by Mr. Mbu and called on the government to prosecute him for violating the constitution.
“I have made it clear to the police authority that because they have allowed Mr. Joseph Mbu to get away with a lot of illegalities in Rivers; he has now come to Abuja believing that he can continue with it.
“What Mbu did yesterday is not only illegal but contemptuous and therefore a criminal offence. We are also laying a complaint towards the Attorney General of the Federation to have Mbu prosecuted for violating the order from the Court of Appeal,” Mr. Falana said.
RSG, Not FIRS, Entitled To Collect VAT, Related Taxes In Rivers -Court
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.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
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.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
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.
- Business5 days ago
IPMAN Seeks Foreign Partnership For Robust Refinery Deal
- Business5 days ago
1,818 MSMEs Benefit From Covid-19 Recovery Package In Delta
- Business5 days ago
Piracy: Stakeholders Canvass Rivers Coast Guard
- Sports5 days ago
CAFCL: Rivers United Will Go Beyond Group Stage – Chairman
- Business5 days ago
CAC Registers 245,000 SMEs Free Of Charge
- Sports5 days ago
Keves Football Competition Kicks Off In PH
- Sports5 days ago
I Want To Take Remo To Next Level – Ogunbote
- Sports5 days ago
10 Athletes To Represent Nigeria At Winter Olympics