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VAT War: Lagos, Rivers Lose First Round to FIRS

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Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu
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The Court of Appeal in Abuja has denied the Rivers and Lagos state governments of the rights to collect Value Added Tax (VAT) in their respective states.

The court said the oral application for the restraining order against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) adopted by the states’ legal team, was not acceptable.

A three-man panel of the court, led by Haruna Tsanami, directed the lawyers representing the two states to file a formal application in place of an oral application.

The FIRS had appealed against the judgement of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt empowering the Rivers State government to collect VAT.

The Tsanami-led panel had last Friday ordered parties to the case to maintain status quo, which appeared to be the decision both Rivers and Lagos tried to overturn yesterday.

The court had also adjourned till Thursday for the hearing of an application by Lagos state, not yet officially a party to the suit, to be joined as a respondent to the FIRS’ appeal.

Emotion ran high after Rivers and Lagos legal teams prayed for the restraining order against FIRS at yesterday’s proceedings.

The lawyers on the two sides of the divide had tense back-and-forth arguments over the request for restraining order.

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Rivers and Lagos legal teams, led by Ifedayo Adedipe and Moyosore Onigbanjo, prayed for what they described as “preservative order” restraining the FIRS from collecting VAT and sharing the proceeds to states pending the determination of the substantive appeal.

“My Lords, the appellant (FIRS) collects VAT and shares amongst states of the federation.

“Therefore, if it is not stopped from doing so, and the court finds its action unconstitutional, it will be difficult to recover the VAT proceeds that must have been shared to the States,” Mr Adedipe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said.

Onigbanjo, the Attorney-General of Lagos State, and SAN, canvassed the same line of argument.

According to him, if FIRS is not restrained from collecting VAT and sharing it among the states of the federation, in the event the court finds its action inappropriate at the end of the day, “then it will be difficult to recover the VAT proceeds that must have been shared to the states.”

Reacting to the oral request by Rivers and Lagos lawyers, FIRS lawyer, Mahmud Magaji, also a SAN, faulted the arguments of his opponents in a combative tone.

“My Lords, I think my learned colleagues are testing the patience of the court, when it is clear that their application has no basis,” Mr Magaji said, adding that the Lagos government lacked the right to make such a request when it was yet to be joined as an interested party.This submission drew Onigbanjo’s ire who wanted to reply Magaji, but for the intervention of a member of the Appeal Court panel, cautioning the FIRS lawyer to “exhibit higher sense of decorum in addressing his colleagues

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FG Re-arraigns Nnamdi Kanu Thursday on Seven-count Terrorism Charge

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The Federal Government has filed an amended seven-count amended charge against the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.

The amended charge, which was filed by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, borders on treasonable felony and Kanu’s alleged involvement in acts of terrorism.

The embattled IPOB leader will be re-arraigned before trial Justice Binta Nyako on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Senator representing Anambra North, Ifeanyi Ubah, on Monday, filed a motion before the Federal High Court in Abuja to compel the Department of State Services, DSS, to allow him to have access to Kanu in detention.

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FIRS Refutes N3.3bn, Budget for Staff Uniforms, Meals

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has refuted a newspaper report to the effect that the agency plans to spend a whopping N2.8 billion on uniforms and another N550 million on meals for its personnel.

 

A statement by the SA Media and Communications to the Executive Chairman, Mr Johannes Wojuola in Abuja on Monday urged “all concerned to ignore the publication its entirety, for it is utterly misleading”.

According to the statement, the reference the newspaper made regarding the budget for uniforms “is not only false but also a misrepresentation of the facts”.

The statement reads further, “in the first place, it is not true that the Service had delivered the Budget Estimate to the two chambers of the National Assembly. Instead, the draft budget estimate was submitted only to the House Committee on Finance. Also, its claim that “the total budget of the FIRS stands at N228 billion” is blatantly not true. 

“Again, what the newspaper referred to as Uniform is the Corporate Outfit (Dressing Allowance) enjoyed by all the staff. Similarly, the sum of N17.8 billion being bandied by the newspaper as an estimate for miscellaneous expenses is grossly false.

“To be sure, the correct figure is N11.36 billion which represents the estimate for key administrative expenses for the whole year that the Service proposed to the National Assembly being an amount that would be incurred when approved, in respect of its over 500 operating offices and functions as well as for its 11,300 workforce. 

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“For clarity, the estimated expenses are for medical expenses for over 11,300 staff, publicity, adverts & taxpayers education, welfare packages & festivity allowance to staff, corporate outfit grant (dressing allowance to staff), honorarium & sitting allowance for staff/stakeholders, sporting activities, and postages & courier services.

“The public is, therefore, to note that the amount budgeted for the above-listed items represents merely 5.26% of the total budget estimate for the year, 2022.

“With these details of well-intentioned provisions in the budgetary estimates which were put together by the relevant departments in the Service, it is crystal clear that the Management is consciously committed to quality service delivery and staff welfare. Therefore, Management will continue to do everything within the limits of available resources to motivate and bouy up the morale of the staff.

“As a revenue-generating agency, the Service remains strongly committed to its mandate of mobilising revenue for the three tiers of government. The Management, therefore, frowns at the uncharitable attempt to drag its well-wrought tax administration efforts into the murky waters of politics, as doing so will not serve any positive purpose”.

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Insecurity: Finally, Last Batch Tucano Jets Arrive Nigeria – FG

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The last batch of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets imported from the United States (US), have been received by the Nigerian government, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has disclosed.

Mohammed, said the Federal Government took delivery of the final batch of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets from the United States recently, when he featured on a phone-in programme of TV Continental, “This Morning”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), which monitored the report, quoted Mohammed of saying:  “All the 12 Super Tucano fighter jets have been received.

As at this morning, all the 12 were here and they have been deployed to the North-East.

“We can see that the Tucano jets are actually game changer.

“Most of the successes we have recorded in recent time is because of the acquisition of the new platforms, not limited to the super Tucano,’’ he said.

The minister said with the recent notable successes recorded by the military on insecurity, he was amused by a story on Monday that the Nigerian Air Force paid N20 million to bribe bandits so that they would not bring down the president’s aircraft.

“Fortunately, the Air Force immediately debunked this because this exposes their ignorance.

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“Between Zamfara, Katsina, parts of Kaduna and Niger states, there are about 150 bandit camps. Who then was the money given to?

“It does not make any sense and it is because they do not understand how bandits operate that is why they can peddle that kind of fake news,’’ he said.

Mohammed said with the improved security situation in the North-East and North-Central Zones the nation would experience improved food security.

“If you observe what is happening of recent, you can see heightened activities in the agricultural area.

“This is because of the superior fire power of the military which is now making it possible for people to go to their farms, especially in the North East.

“They have been able to put the criminals at bay,’’ he said.

The minister gave an assurance that the success of the military against terrorists and bandits would be sustained.

He therefore solicited the cooperation and support of Nigerians for the sustenance of the military action.

NAN recalls that the Nigerian Air Force on July 22 took delivery of the first batch of six of the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States.

The Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, who made the announcement, said the aircraft arrived in Kano.

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The officials that received the aircraft included the Minister of Defence, retired Major.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.- Gen. Faruk Yahaya and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao.

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