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INEC Rejects Tonye Cole, APC List For Rivers …Amosun, Okorocha Bomb Oshiomole Again As Mass Defection From APC Looms

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As political parties struggled last night to meet the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the submission of lists of governorship and House of Assembly candidates for next year’s general election, efforts of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to submit its list of candidates from Rivers State for the elections were rebuffed by the electoral body.
The National Working Committee of the ruling party had, in a statement issued last Thursday night, vowed to submit its list of candidates for Rivers State, saying that last Monday’s judgment of the Supreme Court had no bearing on its congresses.
An INEC source, however, told our source that the electoral body told the APC officials who came to submit the party’s list of candidates for next year’s elections to hold on to its Forms C00I and C002 on nominations from Rivers State pending the commission’s receipt and interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment.
The judgment of the apex court delivered last Monday had set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, which vacated a stay order made by a Rivers State High Court against the conduct of APC 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 at its decision.
It was gathered 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’s congresses, the court voided the list of candidates and sacked the state party executive.
The INEC source further revealed that the APC submitted no list of candidates for elective offices from Zamfara State for next year’s general election.
INEC, in a memo “Failure To Conduct Party Primaries in Zamfara State Within The Stipulated Time Frame,” signed by its acting secretary, Okechukwu Ndeche, earlier addressed to the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, notified the APC that it would not be eligible to field candidates in Zamfara State as the commission noted that the APC failed to conduct primaries.
But in its reaction, the APC NWC, in a letter dated October 10, 2018 and addressed to Mr Ndeche, claimed the ruling party’s candidates emerged through consensus, not primary.
Oshiomhole further claimed in his response to INEC that aspirants for elective offices on its platform in the state agreed to produce candidates through a consensus arrangement which he said was affirmed by delegates after what he called “intense horse-trading.”
For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), an official of the party sighted at International Conference Centre, Abuja, where INEC was collecting the lists, said the party did not have to wait until Friday (yesterday) to submit its list of candidates.
“We started submission after the publication of list of presidential and National Assembly candidates. We didn’t wait for all the forms to come. As they come, we bring them. That’s why you did not see a crowd here,” he said.
The official, who craved anonymity, confided in our official that INEC insisted on list from the faction led by Adebayo Dayo in the Ogun State chapter of the main opposition party.
Checks revealed that 38 political parties have since submitted lists of their candidates.
INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, told newsmen last night that there would be no extension of the deadline.
Meanwhile, the controversy over the governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Ogun and Imo States continued, yesterday, as Governor Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Mr Uche Nwosu, an in-law of Governor Rochas Okorocha (Imo), attacked the National Chairman of the ruling party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Okorocha, Amosun and Oshiomhole Amosun said Oshiomhole lacked respect for truth and decency while Nwosu vowed to recover his ‘mandate’.
“My mandate is still intact”, Nwosu said, citing a court order in his favour, stopping the APC from submitting the name of any person other than his, as the governorship candidate of the party for the 2019 election in Imo State, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The APC leadership had, on Friday, submitted the name of Senator Hope Uzodimma to the electoral body as the party’s governorship candidate for the 2019 election in Imo, while also submitting the name of Prince Dapo Abiodun as the candidate for Ogun State as against Hon Adekunle Akinlade supported by Governor Amosun. Same day, Oshiomhole attacked the Ogun governor, likening him to an emperor who wanted to manipulate the party primaries to his advantage.
Similarly, ahead of the November 9 deadline for publication of particulars of governorship and state Houses of Assembly candidates by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, there appears to be more headache for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC over what sources see as ‘’looming mass defection.’’
National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, weekend, were at daggers drawn over the latter’s comments that five million members had left the APC since Oshiomhole mounted the saddle of leadership.
With a sizeable chunk of the APC governors ‘losing out’’ in the quest to get their candidates at various levels to fly the party’s tickets, some of them are said to chewing various options to realise their ambitions.
Disturbed by the scenario and a brewing threat to his re-election plans, President Muhammadu Buhari, last week, met with aggrieved APC aspirants at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to assuage their grievances. Pleading with them to remain with the ruling party, President Buhari told them the implication of returning the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to power.
At the weekend, some of the aggrieved aspirants especially those who sought for the presidential ticket said the president’s peace moves yielded little or no dividends. Indeed, the APC is yet to resolve the issues it is having in Ogun, Ondo, Zamfara, Imo, Cross River, Delta, Rivers, Kaduna, and Adamawa states, and there are indications that aggrieved candidates may leave the party.
Governors Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun and Okorocha of Imo, in the last one week have been criticising Oshiomhole over his handling of the outcome of the primaries and alleged substitution of governorship candidates endorsed by both governors. In the case of Imo, the matter is already in court with Okorocha insisting that his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu must remain as the APC governorship candidate in Imo. As it is, some of APC governors and party leaders already have options to fly the flag of other parties.
A South-West governor is said to have obtained tickets for some of his loyalists in rival parties. Piqued by developments in the party, Amosun had claimed of the existence of a cabal directing the affairs of the party at the national headquarters.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State at a stage attacked Oshiomhole for imposing candidates while at the peak of the controversies over the primaries in Zamfara, Governor Abdulaziz Yari threatened that he could not guarantee safety of National primary panel sent by Oshiomhole, if they come to Zamfara State.
From unlikely quarters, wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari also slammed Oshiomhole for impunity, selfishness and high-handedness in the conduct of the primaries, especially in Adamawa where her brother, Dr. Mahmood Halilu Ahmed, lost out in the battle for the APC governorship ticket.
Beginning with November 9, the aggrieved governors want to ensure that the names of their endorsed candidates are published by INEC as governorship and state House of Assembly candidates.
If that fails, they want to ensure that the APC played to their dictates using the November 17, 2018 window (last day for withdrawal by presidential and National Assembly candidates (s)/replacement of withdrawn candidates(s) by political parties. For governorship and state House of Assembly candidates the last day for replacement is December 1, 2018.
Thus, as the date for final substitution inches closer, some aggrieved governors are said to be weighing various options.
The options include: working from within the APC for opposition candidates; and fielding candidates in other parties to contest against those allegedly ‘imposed’ by Oshiomhole.
If the aggrieved governorship, national and state assembly aspirants and their backers explore these options, it may hurt President Buhari at the poll, a reason he embarked on peace moves, last week.

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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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