Connect with us

Front Pix

Senate’s Clearance Of Amaechi, Endorsement Of Corruption -PDP …Action Misconstrued -Sen Sani

Published

on

L-R: Rivers State Permanent Secretary, Office of the Deputy Governor,  Dr. Justina Jumbo, President Nigeria Medical Association, Rivers State branch, Dr. Furo Green, Prof. Nelson Chukwuemeka Nwankwo and the chairperson, Local Organizing Committee, Dr. Petrohilla Tabansi,during the Physicians Week organised by NMA  in Port Harcourt, recently.

L-R: Rivers State Permanent Secretary, Office of the Deputy Governor, Dr. Justina Jumbo, President Nigeria Medical Association, Rivers State branch, Dr. Furo Green, Prof. Nelson Chukwuemeka Nwankwo and the chairperson, Local Organizing Committee, Dr. Petrohilla Tabansi,during the Physicians Week organised by NMA in Port Harcourt, recently.

The political intrigues surrounding the ministerial screening of former Rivers State governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and his eventual confirmation for appointment as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the All Progressives Congress (APC) dominated Senate has been described as an official endorsement of corruption and gross abuse of democracy.
This is the view of the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in reaction to the nod given to President Muhammadu Buhari’s choice of Amaechi as one of his ministers despite the monumental allegations of fraud, looting of state treasury and unprecedented abuse of trust while he held sway as governor of the state for eight wasted years, as contained in the Justice George Omereji led-Judicial Commission of Inquiry and the Rivers State Government white paper which indicted Amaechi.
Making its position known through a press statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Jerry Needam, the state Chairman of PDP, Bro Felix Obuah, yesterday, said for throwing the most revered rules of the Senate and the sanctity of the laws of the land to the winds for the singular reason to compensate an indicted party member does not only amount to fait accompli but also exposes the hypocrisy of the APC-led Federal Government that anchored its campaign slogan on anti-corruption crusade.
The state PDP chairman, who expressed shock that the APC senators could descend so low as to fling away the report of  the ethics and privileges committee just to have their way without minding the feelings of the people they are representing amount to formal approval of corruption.
He, however, commended the courage of the PDP senators for staging a walk-out, which is a historic statement that they were not and could not be part of the institutionalization of corruption in Nigeria and the legalization of criminality and scarification of integrity on the altar of loyalty.
Obuah remarked for the umpteenth time that Amaechi is only representing the interests of his benefactors and definitely not Rivers people as the state prefers to suffer persecution for standing on the side of truth and what is right to being eulogized and pampered as a chief servant in a slave house.
“While we look to the end of the APC-led federal government which has started on precarious feet of falsehood and deceit, we can only say that the end can never contradict its means which in this case, is suspect.
“Our regret is the APC’s disservice and disappointment to the entire Nigerians whose hope of getting a better alternative government from the Buhari administration and 8th Senate has been dashed.
“It’s an illusion to think that Amaechi and his like as ministers would perform anything different from what they did while they served in all other capacities”, the state PDP boss declared.
Meanwhile, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), yesterday, said that Senate’s clearance of former Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi as minister, was not a tacit endorsement of corruption.
Our correspondent reports that Sani spoke during a visit to ailing Abdulkareem Albashir, a veteran journalist and columnist, during which he offered to settle his medical bills and an artificial limb.
According to him, the accusations of corruption against the former governor remain a mere allegation until a court of competent jurisdiction pronounces him guilty.
“The APC position on corrupt allegation is that it is still an allegation and the issue is still in court which the senate committee should not have entertained in the first place.
“In the general sense, we are duty bound to protect the interest of someone in our party and the opposition has the right to object to whoever is presented.
“In the broader sense, Nigerians and posterity will judge whether our approval of Amaechi was a tacit endorsement of corruption because the issues raised were not enough to stop his confirmation.
“But we must also understand that even if you are made a minister and you get convicted, the law will take its course.
“Certainly if he is found guilty, he would not continue to serve as minister under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”
On the walkout by the opposition senators under the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Sani said that their action was part of democracy.
“I think nothing is wrong with that, I see the walkout by the PDP senators as history repeating itself.
“Opposition senators walked out when Mr Musiliu Obanikoro was brought in for screening for ministerial position by the previous administration.
“You remember that their protest did not stop the ruling party from having its way,” Sani recalled.

Continue Reading

Featured

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Front Pix

90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

Published

on

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.”

Continue Reading

Featured

We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Trending