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Customs Declares War On Sea Criminals, Commissions 18 Boats In Rivers

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has renewed offensives against hoodlums operating on the Southern waters (Eastern and Western Marine Commands) with the acquisition of 18 creeks patrol boats.
Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), who spoke at the occasion of the commissioning of the boats constructed and built by SEWA West Africa in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said the boats, which comprise nine gunboats and nine logistics boats, were serious signals to criminals.
Ali stated that the boats, which have high functionalities, are an addition to the service’s Marine arsenal at a time smugglers are running away from the heat on land.
He expressed: “I feel highly elated to be with you and most importantly, to commission the 18 creek patrol boats.
“The addition of these boats to the service Marine arsenal at a time when more smugglers are running away from the heat on land to water is simply the right thing to do.
“This event, no doubt, marks the beginning of a renewed offensive against those who chose creeks and waterways as safe haven for their illegal trade.
“The 18 creeks patrol boats, consisting of nine logistic support boats and nine gunboats whose parts are armoured, should send clear signals to the criminals that the game is up. Unlike before, we now have boats with flat bottoms that can access the creeks even when the water has receded.”
The comptroller-general stated that NCS tapped into the ingenuity of a Nigerian company, SEWA to design, construct and build the edifices in-line with Executive Order on Local Content of 2017.
He noted: “As you can see, these boats are not only built with our weather and circumstances in mind, they can compete with similar ones built anywhere in the world.
“The relationship between NCS and SEWA represents excellent examples of what Nigerians can achieve when we come together.
“I, therefore, commend SEWA for delivering on their promise and have no hesitation to recommend them to individuals or organizations that need what they are capable of producing.
“As we commission these boats, which will be deployed for the Southern waters, (the Eastern and Western Marine Commands), I urge our marine operatives to use them judiciously in the interest of the nation.
“Let me state here that even with the best of working tools, NCS efforts will not yield maximum output, If Nigerians for which we work, do not give us needed cooperation.”
Speaking at Onne seaport, where he inspected the newly acquired scanning machine, the NCS boss said the scanner would facilitate trade and reduce the issue of importation of contraband goods.
Ali added that acquisition of the scanning machine would reduce cost and time spent on inspection of containers.
He, however, lauded other security agencies for the existing synergy in complementing the fight against insecurity and bunkering on the waterways and creeks.

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2023: Wike, Makinde, Ortom, Duke Confer With Obasanjo

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Three serving governors under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Engr Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Mr Samuel Ortom of Benue State; and former governor, Mr Donald Duke of Cross River State; last Monday, met with the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, over the 2023 presidential election.
The governors arrived the residence of Obasanjo, within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library at about 6.40p.m., and immediately went into a closed-door meeting.
Obasanjo, while speaking with newsmen, said Wike informed him about his presidential ambition, and that he wished him well.
The former president said the country needs a “courageous leader”, insisting that Nigeria was a complex nation, but not difficult to manage.
The former president said: “Of course, Governor Nyesom Wike as a presidential aspirant, in company of Governor of Oyo, Seyi Maknide; Governor of Benue, Samuel Ortom; former Governor of Cross River, Donald Duke; and former Deputy Senate President and former minister came to express to me his desire, and of course, I made the point that I have always made that, ‘I have ceased to be a partisan politician’.
“I don’t belong to any political party, but if politics is the welfare of the people, I cannot cease to be a politician because I must always seek the welfare of the people.
“And of course, you all know what the situation of Nigeria is, and anybody who doesn’t know that is either not a Nigerian or is not being truthful to himself or herself; and as I often said, no one individual can say ‘yes I can do it’, because the situation Nigeria is today, we need all hands, all Nigerian hands on deck to restore Nigeria and that is what Governor Wike is saying to me.
“Courage, he doesn’t lack it, and if you have courage and you have conviction to speak your mind, well you will have a saying in this part of the world that a person who speaks the truth all the time may not even get a mat spread for him because you will incur the displeasure of people, but you need the truth to be spoken and to get ourselves move Nigeria on the path of unity.
“Of course, we cannot get unity if there is no justice, if there is no fairness, if there is no equity. And when you have the basic ingredients that will bring unity and inclusiveness, then all other things will take their position. You will remove conflict, you will be able to deal with this pernicious issue of insecurity, and of course, the issue of economy and the wholesomeness of the society.
“The issues he raised are the issues that are dear to my own heart for unity and stability of Nigeria.
“There is one thing that I believe in, and I have always said it over and over again, ‘Nigeria is a complex country, but Nigeria is not a difficult country, if we are sincere and fair to ourselves, it is not a difficult country to manage’, and I wish him well.”
In his response, the PDP presidential aspirant, Chief Nyesom Wike, said he possesses the capacity and courage to address the challenge of insecurity, if elected as the next president of the country.
Speaking on zoning of the presidential ticket, Wike said: “It’s not as if I am championing zoning, it’s provided in the Constitution of PDP.Section 7 (3c) provides clearly, in clear terms, unambiguous that there shall be zoning of political and elective offices. That’s what we are talking about in Nigeria.
“Personal ambition will make us to avoid or not to do the right thing with impunity. But again, since they have decided there is no zoning, we are not running away, we have the capacity.
“As it stands today, you know that I am the only candidate everybody is afraid of. You know because obviously, I have gone round. But what we are saying is that, ‘let’s do the right thing’.”

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Section 84(12): Court Fixes June 28 For Report On Supreme Court Decision

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, fixed June 28 for report on the outcome of the Federal Government’s suit seeking an interpretation of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Amendment Act, 2022 before the Supreme Court.
Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the matter after counsel for the plaintiff (Peoples Democratic Party), Joseph Daudu, SAN, told the court that the hearing of his case would depend on the apex court decision on the suit before it.
Upon resumption of the matter, Daudu informed that though the case was adjourned for all parties to look at their processes, some applications were served on him by some of the respondents.
Justice Ekwo then asked the senior lawyer if he had done a review of his case going by the directive he gave on the last adjourned date.
Daudu said he discovered that the judgement of the Court of Appeal on Section 84(12), if applied, would make the work of the court easier because the appellant court agreed with his client on two points.
He, however, said that the Appeal Court judgement “is still merely persuasive since it is not the final court.”
According to him, it is only the Supreme Court that has the final say.
Daudu further said that if there would be a likelihood of decision on the suit filed by the president and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on Thursday at the Supreme Court, the outcome would be either for the judgement to be binding on them or to allow the court hear their matter.
“So, all is pointing to the direction to know what the Supreme Court will say,” he said.
The judge then said that since processes had been filed and no response had been done, that showed that no issue had been joined.
“That means this matter has to abate,” he said.
Justice Ekwo, who ordered all the parties in the suit to file relevant processes before the new date, adjourned the matter until June 28 for report.
The court had, on May 16, asked the PDP to take a critical look at the development in its suit to know if it could still continue with the case.
Ekwo gave the advice after counsel for the PDP, Daudu, informed the court that based on the Court of Appeal judgement sitting in Abuja, the court could continue with the matter before it.
The PDP had sued the President, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Clerk of National Assembly.
It also sued Senate leader, House of Representatives leader and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 1st to 8th defendants, respectively.
Others include Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Deputy Senate Leader and Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives as 9th to 12th defendants in the matter.
The court had also joined Allied People’s Movement (APM) as 13 defendant in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/247/2022.
The PDP had challenged the legality or otherwise of the National Assembly tinkering with Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, after it had been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amidst debate about the subject matter, a Federal High Court, Umuahia in Abia and presided over by Justice Evelyn Anyadike, on March 18, ordered the AGF to delete Section 84(12) of the Act.
Anyadike, in the judgement, held that the section was “unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever and ought to be struck down as it cannot stand when it is in violation of the clear provisions of the Constitution.”
Anyadike held that Sections 66(1)(f), 107(1)(f), 137(1)(f), and 182(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution already stipulated that appointees of government seeking to contest elections were only to resign at least 30 days to the date of the election.
But the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on May 11, vacated the judgement of the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State, which voided the provision of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of justices led by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, held that the person that instituted the matter at the lower court, Mr Nduka Edede, lacked the locus standi to do so.
The appellate court, which invoked its constitutional powers to look at the substantive suit on its merit, however, held that Section 84(12) was unconstitutional and in breach of Section 42 (1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), stressing that the section denied a class of Nigerian citizens their right to participate in election.
The Federal Government had also on April 29 filed a suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Amendment Act, 2022.
In the suit filed by the president and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), who are the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant.
They are seeking an order of the apex court to strike out the section of the Electoral Act, saying it is inconsistent with the nation’s Constitution.
The Supreme Court had also joined the Rivers Attorney-General and the Speaker of the state House of Assembly as defendants in the suit on May 19 and fixed Thursday for hearing.

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Subscribers Reject FG’s N90.49bn New Tax On Phone Calls

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Telecommunication subscribers have rejected a new Federal Government directive to impose a tax on telephone calls in the nation to fund free healthcare for the vulnerable.
The telecom tax in the equivalent of a minimum of one kobo per second for phone calls is part of the sources of funds required to finance free healthcare for the vulnerable group in Nigeria, according to the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2021 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, last week.
According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerians made 150.83 billion minutes of calls in 2020. This translates to 9.05 trillion seconds of calls, meaning the new tax will generate 9.05 trillion kobo, which converts to N90.49billion, yearly.
The new tax is coming despite moves by telecom companies to increase the price of calls, SMS, and data by 40 per cent as a result of an unfavourable operating environment.
According to the Health Insurance Act, the Vulnerable Group Fund is money budgeted to pay for healthcare services for vulnerable Nigerians who cannot pay for health insurance in a bid to subsidise the cost of provision of health care services to vulnerable people in the country.
It added that the Vulnerable Group Fund will subsidise the provision of healthcare to children under five, pregnant women, the aged, physically and mentally challenged, and the indigent as may be defined from time to time.
The Act includes a provision under Section 26 subsection 1c which states that one of the sources of money for the Vulnerable Group Fund shall include a telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls.
Other sources of funding outlined in the Act includes a basic healthcare provision fund to the authority; health insurance levy; telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls; money that may be allocated to the Vulnerable Group Fund by the government; motley that accrues to the Vulnerable Group Fund from investments made by the Council: and grants, donations, gifts, and any other voluntary contributions made to the Vulnerable Group Fund.
According to the new Act, every resident in Nigeria is expected to obtain health insurance.
However, telecom subscribers under the aegis of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, have said they will reject this new move by the government.
The President of the association, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said, “It is quite unfortunate that the government is viewing telecoms as a cash cow. We are saying there is a lot of corruption in the system, and rather than curb that, they want to focus on the telecoms sector.
“What do they mean by vulnerable? Vulnerable people in the nation are probably about 80 per cent of the population, we are all vulnerable. What has happened to the health budget? Why should it touch telecoms again? The government should look elsewhere for money. This new action is only likely to impoverish more Nigerians and they are masquerading as helping the vulnerable. This is not right”.
Recently, telecom companies wrote to the Federal Government, through the NCC, on the worsening conditions of the industry.
A source at the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said that the NCC and ALTON would meet this week in order to discuss the issues disturbing the industry.
Commenting on the act on his LinkedIn page, the Fiscal Policy Partner, and Africa Tax Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Taiwo Oyedele, said this new law would translate to a nine per cent tax on GSM calls.

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