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FIRS generates N5trn, targets N5.3trn by year end

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The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler has said the Service has generated N5 trillion by the second week of December 2018, adding that the agency is at the verge of making N5.3 trillion at the end of the year.

If the FIRS pools N5.3 trillion revenue, that will be the highest revenue ever generated by FIRS in history. The highest in FIRS history is N5.07 trillion generated in 2012.

Fowler’s generation of N5 trillion is significant as it was at a period when oil prices oscillated between $50 and $70 per barrel. Oil price was at an average of $100 to $120 per barrel between 2010 and 2013.

Speaking at the induction of new members of the Joint Tax Board (JTB) on Wednesday in Abuja, Fowler said FIRS has been able to record significant achievements following maximum support from the Presidency, Ministry of Finance, the JTB and other taxation stakeholders.

“This year, the FIRS, with the support of the Presidency, Ministry of Finance, the JTB and other stakeholders, has been able to generate up to N5 trillion. We believe that we should be able to close at least at N5.3 trillion which should be the highest in the history of FIRS. And we believe that with that additional revenue, the state and federal governments would be able to provide more services and more development to the people of Nigeria”, he said.

Fowler urged the new inductees to JTB to equip themselves with new ideas and embrace the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to be able to face the reality of revenue collection in the ever-changing society.

“I see it as a privilege to be addressing this class of inductees today as history has chosen you at this critical point in time in our nations development to steer the ship of sustainable revenue generation.

“While preparing for this occasion, I came across an observation by the American inventor and author Ray Kurzweil where he noted that the rate of scientific and technological change is exponential rather than linear. This observation presupposes that the better part of applied wisdom requires that in our journey of life we are capable of identifying the most apt moment to know at what point to adapt to the ever-tumultuous sea that modern existence represents.

“It also indicates that we should be able to develop the ability to accept and embrace positive change, maybe due to the fact that change is inevitable, but more significantly that oftentimes, change presents us with the rare breaks that we can exploit to advance individual and collective goals and objectives”, he said.

The FIRS boss also stated that as global society continues to transform in structure and process, especially with new technologies and ways of doing things, the role that has been presented before tax administrators in an emerging economy such as Nigeria are quite enormous.

He said rather than being overwhelmed by the rapid changes of the 21st century, taxmen should remain undaunted and see the opportunities that are possible to us as a people in general and as tax administrators in particular.

“I believe that history has placed this responsibility on each and every one of us here today to be the critical success factors in our quest towards ensuring sustainable revenue generation for our various jurisdictions and for our country as well.

Developments in global politics and economics indicate a trend towards increased deemphasis on proceeds from oil and other commodity exports. Huge investments are being made everyday by more advanced economies towards seeking alternative energy sources; and sooner rather than later, oil as a mainstay of the nation’s economy will indeed no longer be sustainable, it is just a matter of time”, he added.

He further charged the JTB members: “This address is not an all doom and gloom affair, far from it. Rather, it is a clarion call to us all, especially you, our esteemed inductees, that though the path before you may seem strewn with sticks and stones, further down the road is a path paved with gold. To navigate to that path, we will need to have courage, a courage borne of our innate convictions towards being the tool for positive change in a time of economic uncertainty.

“The JTB presents a unique platform for you to be that change. Your positive actions as the drivers of revenue generation are capable of achieving much impact. They are capable of providing the much needed funds that will provide the care that saves the life of that infant who is born in the remotest parts of Birnin Magaji in Zamfara State.

“They can provide the funds that ensures that a disadvantaged little child can have access to free quality education in a government funded public school in Ijesa-Isu in Ekiti State. Your actions as drivers of sustainable revenue generation in your respective jurisdictions beyond the bigger picture can achieve the little things that bring about great outcomes in the life of a nation.

“It is in the light of this that I charge you, even as you speak the words of your Membership affirmation, that you look beyond the immediate and see the deeper significance of your roles and your responsibilities as members of the JTB.

“The modest achievements that we have been able to accomplish in terms of internal revenue growth in recent time only point to the fact of the immense possibilities before us. We are encouraged that the results of the 9-month period in 2018 indicates that we shall be breaking new boundaries by full year. However, we can only strive to improve on our efforts and not rest on our oars. We can only become better at what we do, and we can only do that by embracing the positive trends in tax administration. Trends in automation, professionalism, autonomy, service-oriented approach to the taxpayer and all the positive trends that conform with international best practice.

“We are confident that by the end of this exercise and after listening to the various presentations, we shall all be better equipped for the task ahead of us”, he said. Former Secretaries of JTB, Femi Edgar, Mohammed Lawal Abubakar and the incumbent, Oseni Salawe Elamah made presentations on the history and journey of the Board to the new inductees.

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THE NATION

Enugu State Gaming Commission commences enforcement of Signage and Good-Cause fee

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In compliance with the established regulations and rules that govern the activities of the gaming, betting, lotto and pool sector in Enugu state, the regulatory agency in the state has finalized arrangements to commence the full implementation of the rules on identification and operations in the sector in all the local governments of the state.

The agency, Enugu State Gaming and Lotto Commission (ESGC) made this pronouncement penultimate week in a message from the office of the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Francis Nwankwo, where he reiterated the commitment of the Commission in ensuring that all laid down rules of the agency is carried out to the letter. His words: “on the orders of the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, in pursuant to the Gaming and Lotto laws of Enugu State, it is now mandatory that all Gaming (Lotto, Sports Betting, Raffle and Pool staking) outlets in the state must adhere to all the rules and regulations of the laws guiding the commission”.

According to him, some of these conditions include the following:

(1) All Gaming merchant locations MUST be identified with an ESGC approval outdoor signage bearing their allocated Serial Identification Number and must be displayed within the proximity of the said shop. This signage MUST be obtained from the offices of ESGC, and it is at the cost of N12,500.00(twelve thousand five naira only)

(2) All Gaming outlets MUST NOT be located within visible distance from ANY primary or secondary school in the State.

(3) All mandatory Good-Cause fees as stipulated in the Enugu State Gaming Laws MUST be settled within the said period.

(4) All gaming outlets MUST NOT entertain anyone below the age of 18yrs.

 

Mr. Nwankwo explained that this enforcement exercise, which will take off simultaneously in all 17 local government areas of the state, was earlier scheduled to commence on the 28th of Febuary, but postponed as a result of the elections. He explained that, “we had earlier informed all gaming outfits operating in Enugu State, to regularize their operations since November 2018, and followed it up with massive publicity on radio and other media. “We are embarking on this enforcement drive to show that we have the capacity to enforce the gaming regulations in the state” he said.

The Enugu State gaming commission, which currently uses state-of-the-art technology platform from CWG Plc to power its operations, alsoreiterated the fact that failure to adhere to any or all of the above-mentioned regulations will be met with outright sealing of the said offending outlet or total ban of the brand in Enugu State. The exercise commences on the 18th of March 2019.

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THE NATION

Nigerian passenger dies on Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Lagos

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A Nigerian passenger travelling on Delta Air Lines Flight DL54 from Atlanta, USA was on Monday afternoon found unresponsive before landing at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA).

The 54-year-old (names withheld), who was ill before boarding the flight, died three minutes before the aircraft touched down at the airport.

Spokesperson for the MMIA Police Command, Lagos, DSP Joseph Alabi, confirmed the development to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

Mr Alabi said the command was notified of the development after the aircraft landed at the airport by the airline officials.

Delta Air Lines also confirmed the development in a statement issued by its media consultant, Mohammed Abdullahi.

“A passenger on Delta Flight DL54 travelling from Atlanta to Lagos today (March 11), was found unresponsive before landing.

“Local medical professionals met the plane upon arrival and confirmed the passenger had sadly passed away.

“Delta extends its deepest condolences to the family at this sad time. As a matter of passenger privacy, Delta will not release additional information,” the airline said.

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THE NATION

Okupe received N702m from ONSA for doing nothing –Witness

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday narrated to Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, how former Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe, allegedly collected the sum of N702m from the Office of the National Security Adviser for doing nothing.

Okupe was arraigned on a 59-count charge bordering on money laundering and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of N702m.

The first prosecution witness, Osas Azonabor, an operative of the commission, while being led in evidence by the EFCC Counsel, Ibrahim Audu, told the court that sometime in 2016, the agency got an intelligence report that some individuals were paid by the ONSA for doing nothing.

He said when investigations began, it was discovered that the first defendant, Okupe, was one of the beneficiaries.

Azonabor told the court that the EFCC wrote to the ONSA, demanding the vouchers of the payments made to Okupe.

According to him, after analysing the payment vouchers, it was realised that the sum of N50m was paid into Okupe’s account, as stated in a voucher dated April 8, 2014.

He also said another cash payment of N6m was found to have been made to Okupe on April 2, 2014, adding that there were series of payments in multiples of N10m made to the defendant between 2012 and 2014.

The witness further told the court that EFCC’s investigation found that N50m was paid into the Zenith Bank account of Value Trust Investment Ltd, a company in which Okupe is a director.  He added that another N35m was paid into the account of Abraham Telecoms Nig. Ltd. to which Okupe is a signatory.

Azonabor said, “Okupe said he was paid N10m monthly for 24 months by ONSA and the money was reduced to N5m monthly from January 2015 to May 2015.

“He said the money was for special services. When asked to explain what he meant by ‘special services’, he said that part of the money was used to sponsor ‘Insight’, a programme aired on NTA.”

The witness explained that when a letter was written to NTA to confirm the authenticity of the document that emanated from the station, it said the programme was aired free-of-charge.

The EFCC operative further informed the court that Okupe claimed that part of the money collected from ONSA was used to pay workers. “But when asked to show proof of payment, he simply tendered a list of names on a piece of paper.

“There was no payment voucher, receipt or pay slip to show evidence of payment and when we asked him to produce the staff he paid to, he couldn’t produce any”, Azonabor said.

The acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, in a statement, said that the Corporate Affairs Commission documents of the Value Trust Investment Ltd and Abraham Telecoms Nig Ltd, and a letter of response from ONSA to the EFCC Acting Chairman and statements of the defendants were all admitted in evidence.

The Judge adjourned the case to February 28 (today) for cross examination and presentation of other witnesses.

-PUNCH

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