By Kelvin Ebiri
Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike says that with the infraction of the constitutional provision on collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) addressed, his administration has commenced full implementation of the State’s VAT Law without hesitation.
The governor, at an interactive session with representatives of corporate organisations at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, said it was necessary to state the position of the law to the business community in the state.
Such understanding, he said, will enable them not to fall prey to the antics that could be deployed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) officials, who think they could use force to collect what does not belong to them.
Governor Wike explained that FIRS had in the past collected VAT in the State with impunity, knowing it was unconstitutional for them to do so.
According to him, his administration challenged their impunity in court and the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, in its declarative ruling had stated the constitution is right in vesting powers to collect VAT in the State government within its jurisdiction.
“When we challenged the Federal Government through the Office of the Attorney-General and FIRS in court, do you know what they did? They wrote this letter dated 1st of July 2021. Remember, it was in 2020 that we filed this action against them. But see how corrupt this country is.
“Corruption is not only about kickbacks, it is also about doing something illegally. We were in court in 2020.Then on July 1st 2021, the chairman of FIRS wrote to the National Assembly through the office of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“He was asking them to amend the constitution and insert VAT under item 58 of the exclusive legislative list, when we were already challenging that it is not their responsibility to collect VAT. They knew that what they were doing was not the right thing.”
Governor Wike stated that his responsibility in office included making sure that Rivers people are not denied their entitlements.
He described as unfortunate that FIRS has resorted to writing threatening letters to intimidate corporate organisation to pay to them even after they have lost their appeal that sought a stay of execution of the declarative ruling on VAT collection in the State.
Governor Wike urged the business community to be ready to pay VAT for the month of September 2021 and subsequent months to the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service. According to him, he has already assented to the Rivers State VAT law passed by the State House of Assembly.
The governor warned corporate organisations not to feign ignorance of the State VAT law. He declared that the State government will not hesitate to seal up the premises of any company that defaults.
“We are going to inaugurate the Tax Appeal Commission by Friday which will be headed by a retired judge of the state.”
Governor Wike described the disparity in VAT proceeds and what is given to the States as an inexplicable form of injustice that weakens the performance potential of the states.
“Let me tell you the injustice in this country. In the month of June 2021, which we shared in July, VAT collected in Rivers State was N15.1billion. What they gave us was N4.7billion. See the gross injustice and these money includes contracts awarded by the Rivers State Government.
“This is not an issue of party, it is the issues of infraction of the constitution, issues of illegality. Look at Lagos, it is not the same party with me. In the month of June 2021, the VAT collected in Lagos was N46.4 billion but see what Lagos got, N9.3 billion. Have you seen the injustice in the country? VAT collected in Kano was N2. 8billion and they gave them N2. 8billion. Is there any justice in this country?”
Governor Wike described as morally offensive a situation where Rivers State government will award contracts for State roads worth N200 billion Naira and the FIRS will illegally receive 7.5 percent of the amount as VAT to be distributed among the States.
“So you allow me to call the big companies, award contracts to them, then you, FIRS, come and collect the tax and then go and distribute it to other states who are not awarding contracts. How does it sound.”
The governor noted that nobody has been courageous to challenge the illegally perpetrated by FIRS and that history will be kind to Rivers State to have mustered the courage to speak out and also challenge it.
According to Governor Wike, Nigeria is a constitutional democracy and not a military government where rule of law is grossly disregarded.
“I overheard the FIRS chairman saying that I’ll soon know the power of the Federal Government. And that they’ll show me that they have the power to muzzle the judiciary. You can muzzle them as you want. Let the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court interpret the law so that all of us will go and rest.
“Use all the power you want to use, but history will be written one day and those who will allow themselves to be used to muzzle and misinterpret the law will face God one day.”
Governor Wike pointed out that it is not possible for all states to be at equal standing or be mechanically placed in position of performance without allowing them to exercise their rights within the condition.
He advocated that the federating states should be allowed to explore their creative abilities in utilising the functions as provided in the constitution in order to grow.
On his words, “The powers have already been devolved in the constitution but the federal government does not allow us. All they want us to do is to come and beg and I say I will not beg. Give me what the law says I should get.”
Adamawa: CDD Joins Awareness Campaign Against Gender-based Violence
As part of activities commemorating 2023 16 days activism, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has sensitized Adamawa people on Violence Against Women and Girls VAWG.
The sensitization exercise begins with road walk from Bekaji roundabout to Jimeta modern market, Yola-North Local Government Area on Wednesday.
Mrs Amina Auwal, the team lead who spoke on this year’s theme: Unite, “invest to prevent violence against women and girls” described the commitment of stakeholders as the symbol of unity against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the state.
She urged stakeholders to unite and reduce the rate of GBV in the state.
“This VAWG is like a cancer, it is eating up the community gradually but when it has been cut off completely we will have society free of GBV.
“We appreciated the CDD for sponsoring the programme of being able to sensitize the public to bring to an end the menace of VAWG”, she said.
Mrs Rose Zinas, Desk officer GBV, National Orientation Agency (NOA) urged parents, guardians and stakeholders to take advantage of the theme of the year and to invest on women and girls-child.
She said these would help them to have something doing to reduce over dependent on husband’s and parents as well as end violence against them.
Zinas called on the women to also be proactive in looking for something doing and not to be a liability.
In her remarks, Lubna Dodo, representing Federation of Women Lawyers Association, FIDA appreciated the contribution of CDD in the fight against GBV in the state.
She explained that the mission of the road walk is to create awareness on the theme of this year activism.
“This means invest by educating the girls-child and empower them with the knowledge and skills to succeed in future.
“These will go along way by reducing their vulnerability to violence anywhere they find themselves “, she said.
Dodo further said that the passage of Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) law and Child Protection law as well as ongoing sensitization for implementation have also help in reducing the rate of GBV in the state . News Hunter.
Adamawa Govt Approves 42km NYSC Camp – Borong Road Project
By Muhammad B. Muhammad
The Adamawa State Executive Council Wednesday approved reconstruction of 42km road stretching from National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Orientation Camp in Damare to Borong community.
The feeder road project which covers the 2 LGAs of Girei and Demsa will cost over N836m.
The State Commissioner of Education, Dr Umar Garba Pella disclosed this while briefing newsmen shortly after the council meeting that held in the Government House, Yola.
Dr Pella said the project was awarded to Hydro Source and Resource Nigeria Limited and has the completion of period of 12 Months.
The Commissioner further disclosed that the council has approved over N117m variation for the construction of modern laboratory at Specialist Hospital, Yola.
Pella explained that the project was initially awarded at over N578m adding that the variation was to cover the cost of increased price of building materials.
The Wednesday’s 8th 2023 Council Meeting was presided over by the State Governor, Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.
Bauchi SEC Approves Construction of 2 Flyovers , 200KM Roads
Bauchi State Government has unveiled a plan for the construction of sixteen strategic roads worth about one hundred billion naira across the state.
The project also comprises two flyovers at the busiest areas of Wunti and Central Market to beautify and decongest the city centre.
These among some other rural roads construction project across the state’s three senatorial zones were part of the resolutions made during State Executive Council Meeting presided over by Governor Bala Mohammed.
Some of the project that make a total of two hundred kilometers include two point six kilometers Sabon Kaura Birshi Gandu road, four point five kilometers Zango-Gwallagan Mayaka access road, one point seven kilometers Bayara township road, rehabilitation of Disina-Adamami road in Jama’are local government area and Dualization of A.D Rufa’i College to Misau town road among others.
Briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting, the commissioners of Works and Transport Ibrahim Galadima and his counterpart of Special Duties and Rural Development Faruq Mustapha said the projects have been awarded to confitent contractors in line with developmental initiative of Governor Bala Mohammed led administration.
Also during the meeting, the Council has ratified and approved for upgrading of four palaces of Emirs of Bauchi, Ningi, Jama’are and Dass at sum of two point two Billion naira under the State Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
The commissioner of the ministry Ahmed Sarki Jalam said the move was to creat a conducive environment for the traditional institutions to discharge their duties.
The council has also approved a memo for the 2024 Medium Term Expenditure presented by the commissioner ministry of Budget and Economic Planning Aminu Hammayo as well as a memo presented by the commissioner of Commerce, Trade and Investment Mahmud Baba Ma’aji on the preparation for the forthcoming Northeast Joint Trade Fair in Bauchi State.
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