Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari and declared afterwards that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will lose five million voters as a result of the crises besetting the party.
A fuming Okorocha told State House corespondents that the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole does not have the President’s support to mishandle issues in the party.
He said the party boss has no right to substitute Uche Nwosu with Hope Uzodinma as the gubernatorial candidate of the party in Imo State.
The governor also said the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was ill-informed over the crisis following his reported support for Oshiomhole.
He said: “Gentlemen of the press, I am here to clear the air that the Presidency is behind what Oshiomhole in what he’s doing in some of the states and which has affected our party negatively; and from my understanding from Mr President, there is no such directive for Oshiomhole to do anything illegal or create any sort of injustice.
“So, Oshiomhole is on his own in this whole thing. There is no Presidency’s support for him to refuse candidates, those who won elections and give wrong candidates who didn’t win election.
“This is the matter and I will simply say that he is not with the consent of the Presidency, he is on his own.
“I also requested that Oshiomhole must learn to respect the rule of law and obey court orders where they apply. This issue of treating court orders as tissue papers must stop, it doesn’t reflect the image of our party. He must act quickly to fix the integrity of this party because his coming in ought to have brought joy into the party and not sadness.”
Asked if the ruling party now faces disintegration, the Chairman of Progressives Governors Forum, replied: “Well, APC will not disintegrate for as long as the person, Muhammadu Buhari, is still the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and remains the leader of this party.
“So, we cannot give that credit to the chairman. He cannot disintegrate this party, the party is still intact, just that many people are hurt.
“Since his inception and after this primaries, we are losing almost five million voters because of anger, protest everywhere and he needs to be called to order, he has to respect the rule of law, respect court orders and do the right thing – obey court orders where applicable and not turned himself into INEC.”
On the reported support of National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for the party boss, Okorocha stated that he was not properly informed.
He added: “No, may be he is being misinformed, if he is properly informed he will not say what Oshiomhole is doing is the right thing.”
On whether Oshiomhole’s insistence on Uzodinma as the APC gubernatorial candidate in Imo State, the governor maintained that it would not be acceptable.
He explained, he can not be standing on Hope Uzodinma because that man did not win election. You cannot compare somebody who won 265,000 votes with somebody who won 7,000 votes.
“He (Hope Uzodinma) never won election and you cannot imposed a candidate who is unacceptable to the people to the people. “That is how serious the matter is now.
“So, he (Oshiomhole) should do the right thing and I have advised himself severally to do the right thing before he creates more disaffections in our party.”
The governor insisted that the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) cannot submit Uzodinma’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s candidate in Imo.
Okorocha added: “He can’t! I don’t think the National Working Committee will do that because in the first place, the National Working Committee sent a 13-man delegation who conducted election and 12 of them signed, proving that Uche Nwosu won the election with 265,000 votes as against Hope Uzodinma who got less than 7,000 votes. So, they can’t do that.
“And there is a letter to that effect from the National Working Committee saying Uche Nwosu won, there is a Certificate of Return given to Uche Nwosu, there is a Police report saying Uche Nwosu, there is INEC report saying Uche Nwosu. So, nobody can do that and if they do that, that must be the worst imposition in the history of Nigeria.
On the rumor that he may defect to the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Okorocha declared: “SDP? How can I build a house and leave it for someone else? I am in APC, I founded the APC, I gave the name APC and so, this is our party and we must continue with the party and build the party for victory.”
Meanwhile, amidst the crisis trailing the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in some states, the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has told the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, he is not being asked to sell his conscience but to abide by the rules of the party.
He was reacting to a statement by Mr Oshiomhole after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja that he will not mortgage his conscience to keep his job.
The APC chairman made the statement while dismissing rumours some governors were moblising to unseat him over the outcome of the party’s primaries.
Speaking for Mr Amosun in a statement he issued yesterday evening, Dayo Adeneye, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Ogun State, insisted Mr Oshiomhole “fell short of all standards of justice and fairness.”
“We state without any fear of equivocation that no one, at least not on the side of Senator Amosun, has requested or expected Oshiomhole to sell his conscience.
“The least we expect of him is to abide by the rules and guidelines of the APC. Oshiomhole knows, as we know, that in the instance of the last primaries in Ogun State, he has fallen short of the minimum standards of justice, equity and fairness.”
Mr Amosun’s stance differs from that of a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, who on Wednesday also said the chairman has not broken any law or guilty of anti-party activities.
The Ogun governor is dissatisfied with the primaries of the party in his state which produced Dapo Abiodun, in place of his anointed candidate, Adekunle Akinlade.
Before the primaries, the party in the state was divided over what mode of primaries to be adopted as Mr Akinlade was initially announced as the consensus governorship candidate by the governor-led faction of the party.
After the national leadership called for primaries in the state, Mr Amosun’s faction moved for an indirect mode which five other governorship aspirants rejected. The National Working Committee (NWC) eventually directed the conduct of direct primaries in the state.
Mr Amosun’s anointed candidate, Mr Akinlade, was declared winner of the governorship primary election but the results were not signed by the chairman of the electoral committee and none of the agents of the five other gubernatorial aspirants.
Following this, another election was conducted by the NWC which now produced Mr Abiodun. But the governor has insisted that other exercise did not hold.
“Oshiomhole knows that there were no other gubernatorial primaries in Ogun State other than the one that produced Adekunle Akinlade as candidate. He knows that the primaries into national and legislative offices were won hundred per cent by those declared winner by the panel he sent to Ogun State to oversee the exercise,” Mr Adeneye stated in his statement on Thursday.
“He knows that the shenanigan of unknown court injunctions, unknown appeal panels and all sorts unleashed on the process by him and his cohorts are premeditated schemes executed to deny the members of the APC their true choice of candidates in the elections.”
He said the governor’s “consolation lies in the fact that in the fullness of time, what remains unknown to the public will become bare and everyone will see
Oshiomhole and his co-travellers for who they are.”
Mr Adeneye, however, assured of the governor’s “full commitment to the reelection of President Buhari, stressing, “the issue with the primaries won’t change that.
“In his conduct, Oshiomhole has exhibited disdain for the interest of the APC and that of the National Leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari. Senator Amosun remains committed to his convictions about President Buhari and nothing in the shenanigan of the primaries will change that.”
Addressing the chairman’s claim that only three out of the 23 APC governors are not pleased with the outcome of the primaries in their states, Mr Adeneye said justice is not dependent on number of whom it was denied.
“Finally, Oshiomhole’s claim that only three state governors are aggrieved about the conduct of the primaries flies in the face of the nation-wide outcry that remains loud, trailing the exercise several weeks after.
“We remind him that in any case, justice is not dependent on the number of whom it has been denied. Injustice to one is injustice to all.”
He said the overwhelming majority of members of the APC in Ogun State remain unshaken in their rejection of the “gangsterism” that has been visited on them in the conduct of the primaries.
“Resolved that the attempt to hand over their state and their patrimony to a rapacious gang of expansionists in the South West will be resisted, not only by members of the APC but by the entire people of Ogun State who are too enlightened to tolerate such abomination.”
Similarly, ahead of Friday’s deadline for submission of Forms CF001 and CF002 of the list of the governorship and state assemblies candidates by political parties to the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has said Tonye Cole remains its governorship candidate in Rivers State for next year election.
A statement issued last night by the party and signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, claimed the recent judgement of the apex court on the crisis in its Rivers State chapter has no bearing on the primary where Tonye Cole emerged as governorship candidate and the process that produced its candidates for the state assembly.
Our checks revealed that the Supreme Court penultimate Monday set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, which vacated a stay order made by a Rivers High Court against the conduct of All Progressives Congress congresses in the state.
Delivering the ruling on the interlocutory appeal, Justice Centus Nweze held that the decision of the Court of Appeal was in error. Nweze said the lower court was compelled to be guided by the judgments of the apex court, adding that the panel had to follow the law before arriving on its decision.
Recall that Justice Chinwendu Nworgu of the State High Court, on October 11 delivering judgment on a substantive suit, instituted by Ibrahim Umar and 12 other members of the Rivers State APC, challenging their exclusion from the party Congresses, the court voided the list of candidates and sacked the state APC executive.
But the APC last night claimed the judgment of the apex court would not restrain it from submitting Tonye Cole along with his running mate, Hon. Victor Giadom as its candidates in Rivers.
The statement read in part: “ In view of conflicting interpretations that have greeted the recent verdict of the Supreme Court on the contentions among our members in Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it has become necessary to clarify that the Supreme Court’s verdict has nothing to do with the primaries conducted for the governorship and legislative positions in the state.
“Therefore, the candidature of Arch. Tonye Cole along with his running mate, Hon. Victor Giadom remains inviolate. The list of our candidates for the governorship, National Assembly, and House of Assembly have been processed by the National Working Committee (NWC) according to the INEC guidelines.
“Our party appreciates the support of the good people of Rivers State and their commitment towards the victory of our governorship candidate, Arch. Tonye Cole and other APC candidates at all levels in the 2019 elections. A progressive leadership under the APC beckons and the people of Rivers State are poised to effect a change to move the beleaguered state to a path of progress and development”.
The INEC, however, told Nigerian Tribune that it was not aware of the judgment of the apex court on its Rivers State chapter.
Rotimi Oyekanmi, media aide to INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu told Tribune Online on phone last night that the Commission was ignorant of the court judgment
He said: “We haven’t been served. It is when we have a copy of the judgment that we can take a position.”
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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