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FIRS, Lagos State collaborate on tax audit, information exchange

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) on joint tax audit, investigation and automatic exchange of information.

This is contained in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja by Mr Johannes Wojuola, Special Assistant on Media and Communication to the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami.

Wojuola said the MoU was signed in Lagos by the Executive Chairman of FIRS and the Executive Chairman, LIRS, Mr Ayodele Subair.

He said that the event was witnessed by the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba and Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos.

Nami said that the cooperation would enable the two authorities to work as a team in sharing relevant information that would assist both parties in their tax administration and enforcement roles.

He said that it would also provide capacity building between both tax authorities.

“We will carry out joint audit and investigation as a team, we will also conduct automatic exchange of information for gathering data for the purpose of tax administration.

“With that information, we would be able to carry out tax administration seamlessly.

“In addition to that, what we are going to introduce administratively because of our joint operation, is to ensure that we are able to implement presumptive tax regime as far as issues of tax administration is concerned.

“But that is going to happen after we are done with the regulation we are putting together with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, which the Minister of Finance would issue in due course,’’ he said.

Nami said that the presumptive tax would be for the purpose of Personal Income Tax and Ground Rent administration in Lagos State.

“Another key issue I want to emphasise is capacity building.

“There are certain things we know as FIRS and would like to share with the State Inland Revenue Service. And there are also areas of specialisation you have that we expect you to share with us through capacity building.

“The major objective of this collaboration is to raise enough funds for Lagos State government and the Federal Government to be able to fund their budgetary requirements,” the FIRS boss said.

While emphasising that people enable civilisation through taxes they pay, Nami said that government could not provide critical infrastructure if people don’t pay taxes.

According to him, civilisation globally does not happen by accident, but people or citizens of various jurisdictions, states and countries globally make it happen through the taxes they pay.

“Without funds received by the government through taxes, governments all over the globe would not be able to provide critical infrastructures such as roads, hospitals, internationally rated airports, schools and cater for security and safety of their citizens.

“With this collaboration, we are confident that Lagos State would earn more revenue from taxes and be able to deliver a 4th Mainland Bridge, Lekki International Airport, which it has already conceived and other critical infrastructure,’’ he said.

Nami appealed to the Lagos State government to continue to give the residents, particularly taxpaying residents value for the taxes they pay.

Sanwo-Olu in his remarks said that the collaboration commenced before 2022 with the intention to improve the fiscal space of the country.

He said that the country’s tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio, at around six to eight per cent was unimpressive and unacceptable.

According to him, nationals within the Sub-Saharan region are doing better.

“Other nations even within the Sub-Sahara region are doing between 14 to 15 per cent.

“If you talk about developed countries, they are doing 35 to 40 per cent and that is what makes them developed countries.

“It is really an avenue for you to support your government and hold them accountable,” he said

Sanwo-Olu said that with the collaboration, Lagos State was on track to rise above its N1.7 trillion to within the region of four to five trillion Naira.

The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Agba commended the two tax authorities for the agreement and appealed to other states to emulate them

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Ogun Assembly passes Assembly Commission Amendment bill

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The Ogun House of Assembly on Wednesday passed the State House of Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2024.

The passage of the bill followed  presentation of the Committee’s report by the Chairman, House Committee on Establishments and Public Service Matters, Mr Babatunde Tella at plenary in Abeokuta.

Tella moved the motion for its adoption, seconded by Mr Adeyanju Adegoke and supported by all the members.

The bill was later read and adopted clause by clause before the Committee of Whole.

The Majority Leader, Mr Yusuf Sheriff, moved the motion for the third reading of the bill, seconded by the Minority Leader, Mr Lukmon Adeleye and supported by the Whole House through a unanimous voice vote.

Consequently, the Deputy Clerk of the House, Mrs Funmilayo Adeyemi, took the third reading of the bill before the lawmakers.

The Speaker, Mr Oludaisi Elemide, directed that the clean copy of the bill be forwarded to Gov. Dapo Abiodun for his assent.

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Abuja court gives EFCC go-ahead to arrest ex-Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered that a warrant be issued to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for immediate arrest of former Governor of Kogi, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling on EFCC’s ex-parte motion, held that after listening to the submission of commission’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, and reading the affidavit in support of the motion, including the exhibits and written address, he was inclined to grant the application.

It was earlier reported that a High Court sitting in Lokoja on Wednesday, restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining and prosecuting Bello

Justice I.A Jamil, who gave the order in a two-hour judgment delivered in suit no HCL/68/M/2020, held that infringing on Bello’s “fundamental human rights is null and void.”

The judge, who dismissed the commission’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the court, said: “By this order, the EFCC is hereby restrained from arresting, detaining and prosecuting the applicant.

“This is a definite order following the earlier interim injunction given.”

However, in a ruling delivered by Justice Nwite on Wednesday, the judge ordered that a warrant be issued to the commission for Bello’s immediate arrest.

He also directed that the former governor be produced before the court on April 18 for arraignment.

“It is hereby ordered as follows:

“That an order of this honourable court is hereby made directing and/or issuing a warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant for the purpose of bringing him before this honourable court for arraignment.

“That case is adjourned to 18th day of April, 2024 for arraignment,” he declared.

NAN reports that the EFCC, in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024 dated April 16 and filed April 17, sought six orders.

These include “an order granting leave to the complainant/applicant to effect service of the charge together with the proof of evidence on the defendant by substituted means to wit; by pasting the charge at the last known address of the defendant within the jurisdiction of this honourable court being: 9, Benghazi Street, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.

“An order directing and/or issuing an arrest warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant for the purpose of bringing him before this honourable court for arraignment.”

In the alternative, the anti-graft agency sought an order issuing and directing the publishing of a public summons requiring/ commanding the defendant to appear before the court on a named date, among others.

The conflicting orders came after the EFCC had appealed against the initial order, and the appeal was scheduled for hearing on April 22 in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/175/2024 between EFCC and Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

The Yahaya Bello Media Office had, in a statement signed by Onogwu Mohammed, alerted the nation to a siege on the former Governor’s Abuja residence.

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Zulum approves N1.3bn scholarship for 997 nursing, midwifery students

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Gov. Babagana Zulum, of Borno has approved the release of N1.3billion as scholarship for 997 nursing and midwifery students from the state.

Zulum stated this on Wednesday while inaugurating the scholarship programme at the College of Nursing and Midwifery, Maiduguri.

He said that out of the 1,080 nominations, 40 from each of the 27 local government areas of the state, 997 qualified to benefit from the scholarship.

He also announced that the 997 beneficiaries of the scholarship would receive automatic employment after graduation.

The governor said that the support was to encourage the students to complete their studies so as to bridge the workforce demand in the state’s healthcare system.

“The government has allocated  N1,305,189,000 for scholarship, with a breakdown of N124,149,000 earmarked for tuition fees, the remaining N1,181,040,000 will be disbursed as monthly stipend of N30,000 to each beneficiary throughout their studies,” Zulum said.

He added that N201 million bursary allowance would be given to 2,010 nursing and midwifery students who did not benefited from the scholarship, and directed that each of them should receive N100,000.

Zulum, who stated that ongoing construction of two colleges of nursing would be completed this year, inaugurated a lecture theatre complex and a 3,000-capacity multipurpose hall at the college.

Earlier, Lawan Wakilbe, the Commissioner for Education, said that the government had approved over N6 billion scholarship, out of which about N2.7 billion was disbursed to students from the state studying in higher institutions across the country.

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