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PDP ’ll Win Rivers Again …Wike, Obuah, Others Assure

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L-R: Rivers State  PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah, Rivers State Governor, Chief  Nyesom  Wike,  former NBA National President,  Chief OCJ Okocha, SAN,  and  Chairman of Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority,  Chief Ferdinand Alabrabra, at the Rivers State PDP secretariat  in Port Harcourt after the commissioning of the  ultra modern multi purpose hall, yesterday

L-R: Rivers State PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, former NBA National President, Chief OCJ Okocha, SAN, and Chairman of Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Alabrabra, at the Rivers State PDP secretariat in Port Harcourt after the commissioning of the ultra modern multi purpose hall, yesterday

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has dispelled fears over Wednesday’s Appeal Court judgment which upheld the election tribunal ruling nullifying his elections, as he expressed confidence that the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) will win elections again in the state.
Addressing a crowd of party members and supporters who thronged the Port Harcourt International Airport  yesterday to receive him, the Rivers State governor said he has commenced appeal at the Supreme Court to exhaust all legal rights available to him to get justice.
The governor said he still remains the governor of Rivers State until the judicial process at the Supreme Court is exhausted and a re-run is called by the apex court.
He therefore urged party faithful and citizens of the state not to be deterred by what he called temporary setback, stressing,  “Let your spirit not be dampened at all. Yes, they have nullified the elections of the National Assembly members and what I want to appeal to you is that we are ready for the elections, but they should also tell us that they are ready for the elections too”
Wike enjoined members to go back to their various wards and start mobilization and sensitization ahead the re-run National Assembly elections, “ We shall return them and it will be a disgrace for those who think they can use power to take away our mandate.”
Raising alarm over attempt by the opposition party APC to use force and federal might to win elections, Wike said the party and the people of the state will resist what happened in Bayelsa State guber elections, submitting that only transparent elections based on one man-one- vote will be allowed.
His words, “ If they think they will use security to intimidate us that will not happen. We have had our peace for quite a long time because we don’t want any problem, but let nobody take our calmness for weakness. We are not weak, but rather peace loving people.”
In related development, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that there is an ungodly grand conspiracy to take over the state, insisting that God will disappoint the evil conspirators.
Speaking at the Rivers State PDP Secretariat yesterday in Port Harcourt during the commissioning of the ultra modern multipurpose hall and one day seminar for party officials and government functionaries, Governor Wike told Rivers people to look beyond him to stop the evil wind of enslavement being propagated by the conspirators.
The governor  said  that anyone detailed  by the conspiring forces to rig election  in  the  State would  face dire consequences as Rivers people will never be enslaved  by political  groups only interested  in  stealing  her resources.
“There is a grand conspiracy to take over Rivers State for reasons that are known to all of us. But God will disappoint them. I pity any INEC Officer who will want to be funny. Such an officer should be prepared for the consequences.
“We will use the National Assembly re-run elections to prove to the world that these unpopular politicians have been lying about Rivers State all this while. If you know anyone planning to rig the Rivers State National Assembly re-run elections tell him to have a rethink.
“You cannot rig in a place where you are not popular.  Those planning to rig for pecuniary reasons are not popular in this state. We shall return all our National Assembly members. “.
Speaking further: “I call on Mr President to use the National Assembly to institute the change he has talked about with the National Assembly elections. Rivers State is a PDP state and we cannot be shaken in this state because the party is deeply rooted.  We cannot be intimidated with the use of soldiers and policemen during any election. “
The Governor urged party leaders to remain resolute in their resolve to challenge the forces of darkness, adding that strong  Mobilization  of the  people  across the  state should  be intensified to resist those being used against the interest of the state.
He called for extended political consultation between party officials and government officials for better service delivery in the state.
While preaching party discipline at all levels, he called on the party to continue to reinvent itself for the good of the people.
In his remarks, Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon.  Austin Opara commended Governor Wike for leaving up to his campaign promises by delivering democracy dividends across the state.
Rivers State Chairman of the PDP, Bro Felix Obuah stated that the party is pleased with the performance of Governor Wike whom he said will completely transform the state at the expiration of his first term in 2019.
Chairman of the PDP in the state, Bro Felix Obuah has reiterated that the party will win resoundingly if another election is conducted in the state.
He told newsmen that the verdict of the appeal court is not the end of the road, “ Rivers State belongs to PDP and PDP is Rivers State and we will all come out en masse and join our hands to vote the governor again.”
On his part, Chairman of the Post Primary Schools Board, David Briggs has assured that the people of the state will not allow their votes to be wasted, “we have all resolved to test the legal and viscosity of the interpretation of the law.
Briggs expressed confidence that the Supreme Court will give a better verdict based on their integrity and as the last hope of the oppressed.
Also speaking, Caretaker Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Bright Amaewhule expressed confidence that the mandate given to Governor Wike by Rivers people will not be stolen away.
Amaewhule who is also the President General of the Grassroot Development Initiative(GDI) frowned at the recent membership registration exercise by the All Progressive Congress(APC) at the various INEC units noting that, “ the poll units are for voters from different political parties and not for a particular party.”
The Obio/Akpor caretaker boss therefore called on the police and Independent National Electoral Commission to call the opposition to order, since their action can lead to protest by other parties.

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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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