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Online Publishers Association of Nigeria set for 3rd New Media Conference

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As Nigeria enters the election season, the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN) is pleased to announce its 3rd Annual New Media Conference, which will hold at the Sandralia Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria, on Wednesday, January 16, 2019.

The theme of the conference is: Free Press and Objective Reporting in the 2019 Election year.

In a statement made available to the media on Wednesday, and signed by its President, Mr. Austyn Ogannah, OPAN stated that the one-day conference will provide an interactive platform for New Media practitioners – publishers, bloggers and social media influencers, to engage with government and state institutions on issues bothering on Legal and Regulatory Frameworks for Reporting Elections, Ethics and Professionalism in Reporting Elections in Nigeria and the independence and media literacy of the judicial system.

Other issues to be explored according the OPAN President, are Conflict Sensitiveness and Hate Speech, the Dangers of Fake News in a multi-ethnic society in an Election Year, Digitally reporting election results, the Social media and INEC rules, among other topics.

Mr. Ogannah said key government personnel from the presidency, legislature, judiciary, as well as representatives of civil society groups, business sector, political parties, diplomatic community, foreign and local press and stakeholders are scheduled to participate at the conference.

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THE NATION

FMBN processes N12.4b NHF refunds, registers 224,752 in 2018

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The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) says it has processed N12.4 billion refunds to contributors of the National Housing Fund scheme and registered 224,752 to the fund in 2018.

A statement signed by Mrs Zubaida Umar, the Group Head, Corporate Communications, FMBN said that FMBN Managing Director,Mr Musa Dangiwa, disclosed this during an oversight visit by the Senate Committee on Housing to FMBN headquarters, Abuja.

Highlighting some of the key achievements of the bank in the last one year, Dangiwa said it had disbursed housing loans totaling N40.9 billion to 1,843 NHF contributors.

Dangiwa said that the bank also provided Home Renovation Loans totaling N14.072 billion to 16,031 Nigerian workers.

He also listed FMBN innovative housing products to tackle housing affordability challenge which included rent-to-own scheme, where contributors could own a home and pay monthly or yearly rents over a 30-year period.

He said another product was the NHF Individual Housing Construction loans that could be payable over a 15-year period at interest rates of seven per cent.

“Another notable one is the reduction of equity contribution requirements for accessing NHF loans from 10 to zero per cent for sums of up to N5 million and 20, 30 per cent to 10 per cent for loans of up to N15million.

On the way forward, the FMBN boss said that the bank would continue ongoing efforts to fully automate its business operations to improve efficiency and timeliness in the delivery of its services to Nigerian workers.

He said that a key component of this strategic policy was achieving end-to-end automation of all its operations ranging from NHF collection, loan processing, issuance of statement of accounts, NHF refunds amongst others.

Dangiwa thanked the Senate Committee for its unprecedented support of the bank, specifically for the accelerated hearing and passage of the NHF and FMBN Amendment bills, which are now ready for the president’s assent.

The Committee Chairman, Sen. Barnabas Gemade, commended the landmark strides recorded by the management of FMBN in its efforts to reform and reposition the bank.

Gemade lauded the ability of the management to create a professional work culture and the sustained push for the N500 billion recapitalisation of the institution.

He said this led to the passage of the NHF and FMBN amendment bills by the National Assembly; and the development of innovative housing products to cater for unique needs of workers.

The chairman cited the bank’s aggressive drive to leverage technology toward increasing transparency and accountability in the operations of the bank.

Gemade said that in the two years of carrying out their constitutional role to supervise and oversight the bank, members had noted a strong sense of direction and accountability by the management.

“In the past two years, we have seen tremendous turnaround in terms of management and organisation of this agency.

“This gives us a sense of comfort that whatever investment government has made, and whatever appropriation the Nigerian people have committed here, either directly or through government is in safe hands.”

Urging the management to keep up the good work, he called on stakeholders to support their efforts to strengthen the bank for even greater impact.

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Alleged murder: Court admits dismissed cop to N5m bail

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ustice Sunday Aladetoyinbo  of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja yesterday, admitted a dismissed police officer, Gabriel Achimi, to bail in the sum of N5 million.

Achimi, 37, is charged with the murder of one Ishaku Musa, a commercial motorcycle rider around Gishiri junction, Abuja.

Justice Aladetoyinbo granted bail to Achimi after the prosecutor, Ms Munrat Suleiman, informed the court that the police was yet to transfer the case file to the Ministry of Justice.

Aladetoyinbo also ordered the defendant to produce one surety who must be a public servant residing in the FCT.

He then adjourned the case until Feb. 28 for commencement of trial.

Earlier, Mr Akin Akintan, the defence counsel, told the court that the defendant could not be kept in detention perpetually.

Akintan noted that the prosecution had been granted adjournments severally with the same excuses.

“The prosecution and witnesses are not ready for this case; we are in a circle of motionlessness, the defendant should be discharged or granted bail,” he prayed.

The police on Feb. 27, had alleged that on May 10, 2017 at about 8pm, Achimi shot Musa, around Gishiri junction, Abuja.

They alleged that the act led to the death of the deceased.

The police in the charge said the action contravened Section 224 of the Penal Code.

The defendant had pleaded not guilty. (NAN)

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THE NATION

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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