It was 12 days to Christmas last year. The time must be a few minutes past 11p.m that night. I knew, because NTA News crew had barely gone through the headlines of the day’s Network news round-up. I was back on my hospital bed undergoing another round of blood transfusion. It was the second of a three-pint transfusion in two weeks.
A week earlier, I had three-pint transfused but which crashed few days later, with the resultant low blood-level, which another round of tests revealed. Will come to tests later.
That night, my wife received a telephone call from one, I assumed was a friendly medical doctor, with whom, she discussed my medical condition. Too weak to move, with the second pint of blood still running in tiny drops, I remained still but could hear their conversation.
The caller’s expert opinion was that my case was bad. And that it was only a matter of time for me to die. The doctor suggested that all symptoms pointed to Leukaemia and advised my wife to inform my family before I died in her hands. That night, my wife prayed as she never had and begged me for forgiveness over any wrong doing on her part as she had already forgiven me of mine. And she listed a few.
It turned out to be the longest night. With just about two weeks to Christmas, several things ran through my mind, particularly the future of my family, their welfare and education with little or nothing to leave behind in days to come.
Since the doctor had given-up on me, what chance did I have to prepare them for the task ahead? Do I invite my lawyer to make a will? Wills are meant to be secret and sacred, how do I achieve that aim with my wife in hospital? Perhaps, I should ask her to invite the children and my younger brother, Arch. TamWilson Jamabo who had left the hospital earlier that evening.
The more I urged myself to remain faithful, the weaker I became each time the medical director of the hospital, where, I was on admission, discussed results of the laboratory tests – tests meant to ascertain my true health condition and the state of my internal organs: the heart, liver, kidney, pancreas and all. From his look, I could discern helplessness, even if he tried to conceal it.
But after the third pint’s transfusion, making it a total of six in about two weeks, he referred me to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) for, according to him, another series of tests. Unfortunately, medical doctors were on strike, which led to my trip to another private Specialist Hospital in the New Layout area of Port Harcourt where, I was examined by four different medical doctors and a physician. Bottom-line: I must be admitted. Discharged from one hospital to be admitted into another? The same day?
If they too had given-up on me, why not say so, rather than waste more funds that would have been left for my family should I fail to make it. So I resisted the admission and opted to go home, and instead die, if I must, in the loving arms of my immediate family.
Convinced that I was not willing to bend on my position, the doctors prescribed some drugs, suspecting internal bleeding caused by ulcer. The physician also recommended another test which he called – endoscopic test, a process whereby a camera will be inserted through my throat to capture the state of my lungs and find if there were ruptures. That was the final test requirement.
My journey to the medical laboratories that eventually turned me into research guinea-pig, started with test for malaria, typhoid fever and sugar level. It was my first ever visit to a hospital over any form of ailment following a feverish condition I discussed with a medical doctor friend late October last year.
That test result showed acute malaria and typhoid fever while my sugar level was normal. With this, the doctor prescribed some drugs, after which I went for a second test. That result cleared me of all malaria parasites, leaving one out of 80 remnants of typhoid but with normal sugar level. However, the result revealed something more – Frank Anaemia, meaning my blood level was low. Experts explained that the normal blood level in men, my size should be between 13 – 15 range but that mine was less than eight.
Upon seeing that report the doctor ordered another test for alternative opinion which revealed blood level was even lower than seven, which apparently pushed him to recommending three pints blood transfusion; and with that crashing, another three pints. The crash had come by way of black stool (known HBP), so another test was ordered, away from Pyramids Health Consultants to Pix Centre, X-ray and Ultrasound specialist, Rumuobiakani, also in Port Harcourt for Abdominal scan.
That result showed HIV/Aids negative and Liver, Gall Bladder, Heart, Pancreas, Kidneys, Aorta and GIT as normal. On the spleen, the result said: Spleen is normal in size and echo pattern. No mass or sub-capsular collection seen. Yet, the blood level kept depreciating.
By that time, I was already half my huge body frame. Rather than abate my health concerns increased, with a huge rise in sugar level, on account of the drugs administered. Within a week of diabetic attack, I agreed that the end was indeed near, but because there is God, it took a roadside chemist to administer drugs to bring down the high sugar level and return me to my initial already pitiable condition, Waiting to die.
However, to fulfill all righteousness I agreed, when, a friend suggested I underwent another round of tests in a Lagos Hospital in Ikeja, where it was finally observed that my spleen, adjudged normal by all earlier tests result was indeed weak. There, doctors turned away into a trash can, all other medications and prescribed fresh drugs. By the way; the spleen is an organ of the human stomach that controls the quality of blood. That was weak on account of stress.
Before that trip to Lagos, a cousin who had visited me informed me of discussions by the family concerning my health condition and how a Specialist Surgeon and Physician had ruled out any recovery on my part.
That would be the third medical expert to give-up on my case. But because there is God, the Greatest Healer, the Impossibility Changer, the I AM that I AM, I am on the path to total recovery, at least, strong enough to share My Agony with you.
To God be all the glory and thanks to all those who, through calls and visits shared my most terrifying moments, when each dream was a jamboree with only the dead. Welcome Back To My World.
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.
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