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MTN: We have invested more than N2trn in Nigerian economy, paid more than N1.7trn in taxes

MTN Nigeria, on Friday, admitted to a technical disagreement between it and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on how the 2015 fine should be treated for tax purposes.

Mr Onome Okwah, Manager, Public Relations and Protocol, Corporate Affairs/Corporate Relations, MTN, disclosed this in a statement in Lagos.

According to him, the organisation’s attention has been drawn to media reports regarding the status of taxes relating to the 2015 fine imposed on MTN.

He, however, added that while the monies had been paid to FIRS, MTN had taken the disagreement to the Tax Tribunal set up by the FIRS Chairman and Minister of Finance and were awaiting its decision.

“MTN remains fully compliant with the Nigerian tax laws and will abide by the findings of the tribunal.

“The company is committed to meeting its fiscal responsibilities and contributing to the social and economic development of Nigeria.

“Since incorporation in 2001, MTN has invested more than N2 trillion in the Nigerian economy and has paid more than N1.7 trillion in taxes, levies and other regulatory fees.

Mr Babatunde Fowler, Chairman, FIRS, recently accused MTN of deducting tax from the N330 billion fine it paid to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Fowler maintained that fines and penalties for regulatory infractions were revenues paid to the Federal Government and should not be subjected to any tax deduction.

NCC had in October 2015 imposed a N1.04 trillion fine on the telecommunications giant for alleged non-compliance with the deadline set by the commission to disconnect all unregistered SIM cards.
The regulator reduced the fine to N780 billion in December 2015, having taken into consideration the stability of the telecommunication sector.

The fine was further reduced to N330 billion after MTN had agreed to be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

ICPC recovers hospital equipment meant for constituency project from ‘Akpabio’s foundation’

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has recovered hospital equipment meant for constituency project on the premises of Mma Obot Foundation.

The Mma Obot Foundation is allegedly owned by Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom.

In a statement by Rasheedat Okoduwa, ICPC’s spokesperson, the commission said the items were recovered during its ongoing tracking of constituency projects around the country.

“The on-going tracking of constituency projects by the ICPC and its partners through the Constituency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG) initiative has yielded yet another significant result with the recovery of six tractors meant for the use of farmers in six local government areas of Bauchi Central Senatorial District,” the statement read.

“It has so far led to multiple recoveries of items, hospital equipment, vehicles and funds.

“Among the recoveries so far made by the CPTG team are dialysis machine, ECG monitor, oxygen regulator, anaesthetic machines, generators and other hospital equipment meant for a cottage hospital in Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, from the premises of Mma Obot Foundation, alleged to belong to Senator Godswill Akpabio.”

The commission said it also recovered six tractors from a farm belonging to Isa Misau, a former senator who represented Bauchi central.

According to ICPC, the tractors recovered from Misau were meant for farmers in six local government areas in his senatorial district.

The commission said the tractors, already showing signs of wear and tear, have been handed over to the chairman of Ganjuwa LGA for “safekeeping until further directives”.

“The tractors formed part of the N430m contract for the supply of pumping machines and other agricultural machinery to farmers in the senatorial district, which was awarded in 2015 by the Federal Government as part of the senators’ constituency projects across the nation.

“The CPTG team for Bauchi discovered that N76.6m was paid for the tractors in December 2015 and supplied in March 2016.

“They were supposed to have been distributed for the use of farmers in each of the six local government areas in the senatorial district that included Misau, Dambam, Ningi, Warji, Darazo and Ganjuwa. It was found out that the tractors had obviously not been distributed as required in the terms of the contract.

“In the effort to trace the tractors, Isa Hamman Misau, the then-senator under whose auspices the project was included in the budget to be executed by the MDG (Millennium Development Goals) Office, met with officials of ICPC in Bauchi and in a written statement claimed that the tractors were kept in Yuli village.

“However, the CPTG team did not find any of the tractors there and some of the intended beneficiaries who were interviewed claimed not to have ever seen the tractors in the village as claimed by the senator.

“The tractors, which are already showing signs of dilapidation as a result of usage, with some leaking oil, have been seized by the Commission and handed over to the Chairman, Ganjuwa Local Government Area for safe keep pending further directives.”

Presidency accuses Atiku of ‘denigrating’ Nigeria’s democracy

Femi Adesina, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, says Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is denigrating the country’s democracy.

Adesina said this in reaction to comments made by the former vice-president on the reported secret burial of soldiers who have died in the war against Boko Haram.

The Wall Street Journal had reported how the soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents were allegedly buried in hidden graveyards.

Shortly after, the former vice-president called for an independent inquiry into the said secret burial.

But in a statement on Friday, Adesina accused Abubakar of being quick to play up negative developments in the country, adding that his alleged actions are in “vain.”

“Before and after the Osun State judgement, the PDP candidate had always been quick to play up negative developments in the country, the latest of which is the tendentious story by Wall Street Journal, alleging that about one thousand Nigerian soldiers had been recently killed by Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa terrorists, and secretly buried by Nigerian military authorities,” he said.

“The military has duly countered the story, educating the Wall Street Journal on the hollowness of its publication.

“But Alhaji Abubakar has quickly weighed in on the matter, as part of his gambit to whip up emotions, and perhaps get the judiciary to reflect the ‘pulse of the nation’ in its judgment.

“According to the PDP candidate, who lost the last February poll by nearly four million votes, as released by the electoral umpire, he could ‘not fathom that in the space of a year, scores of great patriots were killed and buried secretly without their families being told.’

“In an apparent afterthought and doublespeak, he added that he was hesitant to believe that ‘such grand scale of deceit is even possible under a democracy, such as Nigeria is expected to be.’

“The above, rather than mitigate Alhaji Abubakar’s position, gives him out as someone who denigrates the country’s democracy, which he was part of building, in his heyday, before unbridled ambition blinded.

“Yes, soldiers fighting insurgency and terrorism are great patriots. But the same can’t be said of anyone quick to believe any negative story about his country, however fictive and lacking in verity as the story could be. Well, except such person had the motive of whipping up negative sentiments and emotions, so that the judiciary could respond to the ‘pulse of the nation and reflect it.’

“Therefore, in vain does anybody labour to devalue the government and its military, thinking it would fall into a grand plan to get into office through artifice. The campaigns and elections for 2019 are long over. The country has moved on. And those who know it actually know it.”

Jega, former INEC chairman, joins PRP

Attahiru Jega, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has joined the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).

Jega, who was INEC chairman from 2010 to 2015 and was celebrated for overseeing an election that saw an incumbent president lose for the first time in Nigeria’s history, confirmed to TheCable that he had joined PRP.

PRP is a left-leaning party and may be considered a natural habitat for Jega, who was a union leader during his days as a university teacher.

He was once president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

In a statement on Friday, Abdul Gombe, national publicity secretary of the party, said the move will help re-position the party for more nationalistic outlook ahead of 2023 general election.

According to him, the former INEC boss will spearhead the strength, weakness, opportunities and threat (SWOT) analysis committee of the PRP.

“The PRP at its 62nd National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held on June 22nd in Kaduna decided to set up a 3 (three) Committees to review the performance of the Party in the 2019 General Election with with a view to repositioning the Party for better performance in facing new challenges of Nigerian politics,” he said.

“On the basis of a critical analysis of these, the Committee made up of some of the best intellectuals in Nigeria will recommend to the Party, strategies to adopt for its survival and growth.

“The three Committee are: The SWOT Analysis Committee; Mobilisation Committee, Finance and Funding Committee Membership and mobilisation committee.

“Membership of the mobilisation committee chaired by a person who has been in the PRP for 41 years is to examine and advise the party on how best to grow its membership using the best Ava methods bearing in current voters demography in Nigeria.

“Finance and funding committee whose membership has business persons will examine the current financial status of the PRP and existing funding methodologies as put in the party’s constitution and suggest how best to make the methodologies work as well new ways of raising funds to make it a financially-stable party with a sustainable operation.”

According to Gombe, other persons that made up the three committees are Kabiru Yusuf, publisher and chairman of the Trust newspapers, Momodu Kashim Momodu, George Kwanashie, Ayo Sando, Obi Osisiogwu, and Nathaniel Abraham.

Shehu Sani, former senator representing Kaduna central, had resigned his membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest under PRP, but he lost the election.

 

Flood sweeps away high court finance director in Abuja

Tony Okecheme, the director of finance at the federal high court in Abuja, has been swept away by a heavy flood.

PUNCH reports that Okecheme was on his way to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in his official 2017 Toyota Camry when his car got stuck in the flood at Galadimawa roundabout, Abuja, on Friday.

Galadimawa is about 15 minutes away from the city center.

While the finance director was swept away by the flood, his driver was rescued and taken to Asokoro hospital, Abuja, by some young men in the area.

It was reported that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) officials who came to the scene failed to rescue Okecheme and his driver who were reportedly trapped in the flood for about an hour before the water swept away the director.

His car, which was filled with mud water, was later pulled out of the ravines by the rescuers.

Two young girls who claimed to be Okecheme’s children were seen weeping uncontrollably at the scene of the incident.

An FCT judiciary worker, who did not give his name, identified the car as belonging to Okecheme, noting that the man had sent him N40,000 in the morning.

Apart from Galadimawa, other parts affected by the flooding include Karu and Lokogoma.

 

BREAKING: Five Redeemed Church pastors kidnapped at Ijebu-Ode

Five ministers of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) have been abducted on their way to attend the church’s Ministers’ Conference in Lagos.

The General Overseer of the RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye announced the abduction on Friday while giving a talk at the Redeemed Camp along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Pastor Adeboye said the abduction took place on Thursday along the Ijebu-Ode axis. He charged the congregation to pray for the release of the abductees.

The General Overseer said this is the first time such incident of that magnitude was happening. “As a father, how do you think I should feel to hear that five of my children have been kidnapped while on their way to attend the Ministers conference, he wondered.

North-West governors grant amnesty to bandits

Bandits, cattle rustlers have been granted amnesty by governors in the north-west.

This was disclosed by Aminu Masari, governor of Katsina state, who read a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day security and reconciliation meeting with security agents, vigilante, volunteer groups, herdsmen and farmers on Thursday in Katsina.

Over the months, many lives have been lost in clashes between farmers and herders in the region.

The governors agreed that in pursuit of peace, bandits should drop their weapons and no herdsman should be attacked.

“As from today, no vigilante group member or volunteers should attack or kill any herdsman, as sacrifice must be made by both sides to ensure peace reign,” the communiqué read.

“Herdsmen and their families should be allowed to go about their normal businesses, attend markets and worship places without molestation provided they don’t carry arms.

“Those bandits who rustled animals from communities should immediately return them to the government or Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association.

“Bandits should surrender their weapons and immediately release all those kidnapped and now under their custody.

“We are happy that we have seen some releases of kidnapped victims from Zamfara and other states.”

Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara state who was in attendance, also added that the states would provide grazing reserve for the herders for them to settle in one place in the zone.

“We are concerned that herders are always roaming around with their animals thereby exposing themselves to different kinds of hazards,” he said.

“The governors took a uniform measure, you should also take a uniform decision not to rustle animals, kidnap or kill anyone. You should immediately release all people in your custody in order to show the world that you have truly repented.”