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Bayelsa Poll: Dickson Retains Seat …Wike Congratulates Gov …PDP, Others React

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike (right), in a handshake with the Chairman, Nigeria Legion, Rivers State, Col. Wilberforce Josiah (2nd left), at the Inter-denominational Service to mark the 2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, yesterday.

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike (right), in a handshake with the Chairman, Nigeria Legion, Rivers State, Col. Wilberforce Josiah (2nd left), at the Inter-denominational Service to mark the 2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, yesterday.

Governor Seriake Dickson of the Peoples Democratic Party has been declared winner of the controversial Bayelsa State governorship election.
Dickson was declared winner of the election after he polled 134,998 votes, 48,146 votes more than his closest rival, former Governor, Timipre Sylva of the All Progessives Congress.
The Returning Officer of the election, Zana Akpagbu, returned Dickson as winner of the election, saying he had satisfied all requirements.
He said that, “Dickson Henry Seriake of PDP having satisfied the requirement of the law and secured the highest number of votes is hereby declared winner of the election.”
In all, there were 225,527 valid votes; 6, 647 rejected votes, while the total votes cast were 232,167.
Dickson, who secured the most votes in the December 5, election had also led Sylva in the supplementary election.
Dickson, who secured the most votes in the December 5, election, polling 105,748 votes, compared with the APC candidate’s 72,594 voted, also led in the supplementary election.
In the rerun, which took place in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and 102 polling units across six other local government areas of the state, Dickson got 29,574 votes, while Slyva polled 14,258 votes.
The supplementary election had become necessary following the cancellation of the election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state as a result of widespread violence.
The violence had prevented voting from taking place in the LGA along with others on December 5 and a rescheduled poll held in council the next day was cancelled on December 7 due to irregularities and violence.
More than a month later, violence threatened the rerun despite assurances by security agencies that adequate preparations have been made to make it hitch-free.
Ahead of the rerun, in the early hours of Thursday, there was a bomb attack on the house of the Speaker, Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Konbowei Benson, in Korokorosie, Southern Ijaw LGA.
Although voting commenced peacefully in several polling units on Saturday, as of midday, there had been several reported incidents of violence with electoral materials yet to arrive at some polling units.
Our correspondent reported that there was difficulty in conveying electoral materials from Amatoru Community School to polling units because of heavy shooting in the area.
He also reported that there was sporadic shooting in Amatolo, a riverine community in Southern Ijaw LGA, a development that prevented INEC officials from getting materials to the area.
In Agoibiri, two people were reportedly hit by stray bullets while angry youths destroyed electoral materials at some units.
Around 9:30am the Situation Room, a coalition of civil society groups, reported that voting was disrupted by violence in Otuokpoti Ward, Ogbia.
The Peoples Democratic Party also accused thugs loyal to the All Progressives Congress of disrupting election in three polling units – 6,7 and 10 – in Biseni.
The substantive election in the state was held on December 5, 2015 but INEC declared the election inconclusive after it cancelled the poll in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area following reports of widespread electoral malpractices and violence.
INEC subsequently fixed January 9, 2016 for supplementary elections in the affected local government and 101 other polling units in 7 local government areas where elections did not hold on December 5.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has declared that the re-election of the Bayelsa State Governor, Rt. Hon. Seriake Dickson is a victory  for  democracy  in the face of unrelenting external forces. In a congratulatory message to the Bayelsa State Governor, following  his re-election  at the conclusion  of  the  supplementary governorship  election,  Governor Wike  said  that  the  will of the  people  of  Bayelsa State has prevailed as they have resolved  to remain with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
A statement issued by  the Governor’s Special Assistant on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu,  pointed out  that  the  people  of  Bayelsa State exhibited the true Niger Delta  spirit which abhors oppression and injustice.  He said  that with the re-election  of Governor Seriake Dickson,  a clear message  has been  sent to the dark forces of rigging  and electoral manipulation  that they will never find accommodation  in this geo-political zone.
Governor Wike specifically  commended the good people  of  Bayelsa State for being vigilant all through  the governorship election process, saying  that their hard work and dedication  to  the  enthronement of democracy have been rewarded by the re-election  of a true Niger Delta  patriot.
The governor stated that the people of the Niger Delta remain dedicated  members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, because  that is the only political  platform  that gives Niger Delta issues the priority they deserve,  while the others are only interested in the  pecuniary benefits  which flow from the area.
While rejoicing  with Governor Dickson,  the Rivers State Governor expressed confidence  in  the  ability  of  the  Bayelsa State Governor to consolidate  on the democracy dividends which he availed the Bayelsa people during his first term.
In the same vain, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has hailed the people of Bayelsa State for their support for its candidate, Governor Seriake Dickson, which led to his victory at the just-concluded governorship election in the state.
It however expressed sadness over number of those who lost their lives during the election.
“It’s painful that this victory has come with so much pain because we lost dear ones. Those who died are our brothers. So many are yet in the hospitals nursing life threatening injuries because our opponents wanted to win at all cost. We wish to express our deepest condolences once again and to assure them that their death will not be in vain”, it stated.
The party stated this through the Director of Publicity, Restoration Campaign Organisation, Jonathan Obuebite, shortly after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the incumbent governor winner.
He thanked the people for renewing Dickson’s mandate for another four-years, attributing it to the “resilience and uncommon courage” of the people.
Obuebite who noted that the victory was important because it came the way of the PDP even in the face of intimidation, tyranny, threats and violent attacks, added that “despite the challenges, democracy won.”
He said, “We want to use this opportunity to sincerely thank all Bayelsans for their doggedness and patriotism because even in the face of such terrible intimidation and violence decided, out of their own volition, they came out to re-elect and return the Countryman Governor to office for the next four years. We are grateful for your remarkable decision as expected in a democracy.
“The people have spoken and we are indeed grateful. It’s your victory, you the good people of Bayelsa State. Without doubt, a new dawn is here. Bayelsans, through their uncommon courage have defeated tyranny and oppression by voting for the continuation of the restoration of our dignity and pride as amply demonstrated through their votes.”
Similarly the Peoples Democratic Governors Forum has hailed the people of Bayelsa for standing firm against brute force and terror unleashed on them in the concluded supplementary election in Southern Ijaw and 102 polling units on Saturday by the APC-led regime.
In a statement signed by Earl Onaiwu, coordinator of the forum, after Governor Seriake Dickson was announced winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission late Sunday night, the governors said that but for the resilience and determination of the people, the APC was inordinately out to capture the state as if it was a trophy of war.
“The PDP Governors Forum wishes to commend the good and great people of Bayelsa State for standing resolute, firm and immoveable against the desperate attempt by the APC-led regime to hijack the mandate of the people of Bayelsa state.
“It is unfortunate that a party that came into office through a free and fair process offered by an incumbent have neglected to imbibe democratic tenets by engaging in thuggery and outright violence as if the state is a trophy of war.
“The Bayelsa election is a wakeup call to all Nigerians to reject any extra constitutional means by which the APC intends to cling to power.
“We call on our members in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Edo states to brace up in the coming days and show that the PDP is indeed the custodian of democracy as it has done for the past 16 years.
In another development, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekit State has hailed the re-election of the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, describing it as a demonstration of the resolve of Bayelsa people to choose their own governor and resist imposition of a governor on them by the powers that be in Abuja.
The governor, who described the people of Bayelsa as “worthy heroes of democracy that stood their ground against agents of darkness that were prepared to short-change them by imposing a governor they do not want on them,” said Governor Dickson’s victory was another vindication of his prediction on 20 things to expect this year.
Governor Fayose said in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka that it was shameful that several people were killed in an election in Bayelsa State with eight Local Government areas in which more than 20,000 security personnel, including soldiers were deployed.
“If the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could not conduct a free and fair election in just eight Local Governments in one month, one wonders how long it will take INEC to conduct the president election that will be held in 774 Local Governments in 2019,” the governor said.
He lamented that the legacy of free, fair and credible elections bequeathed on Nigeria by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government of Dr Goodluck Jonathan was already being destroyed by the President Muhammadu Buhari led All Progressives Congress (APC) government owing to the APC’s desperation to take over all States in the country by crude means.
“The people of Bayelsa have shown that their power is more than that of the Abuja political oppressors. They have shown that tyranny can be defeated through the collective will of the people.
“I congratulate Governor Dickson for this sweet victory. I salute Bayelsa people for standing firm against terror. I sympathise with families of those that were murdered and I urge Nigerians to take note of the systematic destruction of democracy by the APC government in Abuja,” he said.
Also, Senator Ben Bruce representing Bayelsa East constituency, in Bayelsa State, has congratulated Governor Seriake Dickson over his re-election as the state governor.
Dickson, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared winner of the poll by the INEC REC, after polling  134,998 votes, beating his main challenger, Timipreye Sylva of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who polled 86,852 votes.
In his congratulatory message on Twitter, Bruce said: “Congratulations @iamHSDickson. Those who got there through free and fair elections could not use #DoOrDieElections to remove you!”

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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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