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Bill To Establish Commission For National Tax Crimes Pass Second Reading

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By Gloria Ikibah
The House of Representatives has passed for second reading a bill to Establish a National Tax Crimes and Oversight Commission to address revenue leakages in the payment and understand payment of taxes in the country, sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Rep. Benjamin Kalu and eight other lawmakers.
When passed into law, the commission  will check irregularities in the assessment, reporting, and remittances of taxes, prevent and combat tax-related crimes, and plug all leakages in the tax administration system in the country while protecting the rights of three taxpayers.
Leading the debate, Rep. Felix Uche Nweke  noted that the amount of revenue available to any government determines the extent to which such a government may be able to provide public goods and services.
He said: “It is a pointer to how far a nation can ensure her growth and development. While taxation is considered the most important means of generating public revenue, it is worthy of note that nations that strive to develop aim at putting in place a fair, just, efficient, and simplified tax administration system that builds confidence amongst the citizens and as well motivate and encourage citizens to pay their taxes.
“While it is one thing to fix the amount of taxes to be paid, it is another for tax collection authorities and assessors to determine the right amount of taxes to be paid in accordance with the provisions of extant tax laws. Leakages occur when unscrupulous staff and agents of tax authorities collude with citizens to under-assess the tax-payer thereby resulting in underpayment.
“Leakages also occur in the form of tax evasion, especially such that is encouraged and condoned by the tax collector and more especially among multinational corporations operating within the country.
“Leakages also occur where there are non-remittances of collected taxes, that is to say where the government does not get the total amount of taxes collected as a result of revenue diversion by the fraudulent staff of tax authorities, the list is endless.
“On the other hand, some citizens, especially small businesses bear the twin burden of either over-assessment or multiple taxation. This stifles the business environment and it does not allow small businesses, ordinarily considered as the engine of growth, to survive. Not only are our tax laws not very friendly to micro, small, and medium enterprises, but such MSMEs suffer more from the activities of the tax collectors.”
The lawmaker argued that to effectively combat, as well as prevent international tax evasion and other transnational organized crimes and abuses of the nation’s public finance system, there is a need to establish an Independent Tax Crimes and Oversight Commission, which will have the capacity to investigate, audit, prevent and combat tax-related crimes.
“This will contribute to our national security through the prevention of tax-related crimes, the prevention of illicit financial flow derived from tax evasion, international tax schemes, cybercrime, etc”, he added.
Rep. Nweke further stated that the commission will not function as a law court, it will not duplicate the functions of the Tax Appeal Tribunals established by section 59(1) of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act, 2007 and it will not be saddled with any form of quasi-judicial functions.
“The Commission will primarily focus on the Oversight of the Tax Administration System, Ensuring that the Tax Authorities Discharge their Duties within the ambit of the laws: protecting, promoting and guaranteeing taxpayer’s rights, where necessary ensuring the prosecution of corrupt and fraudulent tax officials, ensuring the complete remittances of all public revenues, ensuring the increase of public Revenue not through introduction or increment of taxes but through friendly and appropriate taxation, among other things.
“The Commission will ultimately ensure that the five basic qualities of a good tax system, which include fairness, adequacy. Simplicity, transparency, and administrative ease are entrenched as part of global best practices.
“Similar independent tax auditing and investigating organizations exist in other countries; such as the Treasury Inspector General} for Tax Administration (TIGTA) of the United States and the Inspector General of Taxation and Ombudsman (IGT/0O) of Australia. Similar Organizations exist in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, etc)
“There is a need to put in place an effective system which oversights tax administration in Nigeria, a system which can address taxpayers’ grievances and complaints promptly and without hassles, a system which will be so friendly and that can encourage and raise people’s willingness to pay their taxes”, he stated.
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Power Sector: FG To Establish 3 Gigawatts Of Solar Energy in 25 States – Minister

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Power Sector: FG To Establish 3 Gigawatts Of Solar Energy in 25 States – Minister
…say poor funding, insufficient gas supply responsible for power deficit
By Gloria Ikibah
Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, had said that the federal government is working towards the establishment of three gigawatts of solar energy sources across the 25 states in Northern and South Western parts of the country.
According to him, this is a novel approach that will go a long way to solve the power problems, even as he called on state governments to invest in power generation in their states.
The minister stated this at a two-day Power Sector Stakeholders Interactive Dialogue/Workshop organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Power with the theme “Confronting Nigeria’s Power Challenge as the Nation Migrates to a Multi-tier Electricity Market: A Legislative Intervention” on Tuesday in Abuja.
Adelabu who said that hydro energy would be deployed for the coastal cities, also lamented that the country has witnessed incessant collapse of transmission which is caused by lack of adequate infrastructure.
He admitted that most of the infrastructure in the power dates back to the 1960s, with no single backup for the national grid, and called for alternative sources in the situation where there is a collapse of the grid.
The Minister also disclosed that the major factors responsible for the power deficit currently faced by the country is as a result of inadequate financing and insufficient gas supply.
Adelabu who lamented the current state of power supply across the country, however, assured Nigerians of the determination of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration to address the challenges and make Nigeria a suitable place for business.
He said “No sector can function optimally without the power sector. Over the years, poor financing, and inadequate gas supply have been responsible for the energy deficit we have in the country. But a lot of work is going on to address these challenges.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the
Chairman, House Committee on Power, Rep. Victor Nwokolo explained that the purpose of the interactive dialogue/workshop was to provide a dynamic platform for stakeholders to evaluate the progress so far in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) development.
He revealed that discussions will centre around the seamless transition to a Multi-Tier Electricity Market, as outlined in the Electricity Act of 2023.
According to him, “his transition, holds immense potential to enhance competition, efficiency, and reliability within the electricity market, ultimately benefitting consumers and driving economic growth”.
He said: “Through collaborative brainstorming and analysis, we aim to chart a clear roadmap for this transition, ensuring that it is smooth, inclusive, and conducive to sustainable development.
“Furthermore, this workshop will serve as a platform for stakeholders to explore innovative solutions to the persistent challenges plaguing the power sector. From infrastructure development and financing to regulatory frameworks and consumer engagement, we will examine a wide array of issues and propose actionable strategies for improvement.
“In addition to these objectives, we aspire for this workshop to foster enhanced collaboration and partnership among stakeholders. By bringing together legislators, representatives from government agencies, regulatory bodies, industry players, academia, and civil society, we aim to cultivate a culture of cooperation and collective action towards our shared goal of a vibrant and resilient power sector”.
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How Yahaya Bello withdrew $720,000 from Kogi account to pay child’s school fees -EFCC Chairman

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By Francesca Hangeior

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, has revealed that a former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, transferred $720,000 from the government’s coffers to a bureau de change before leaving office to pay in advance for his child’s school fee.

Olukoyede revealed this during an interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said, “A sitting governor, because he knows he is going, moved money directly from government to bureau de change, used it to pay the child’s school fee in advance, $720,000 in advance, in anticipation that he was going to leave the Government House.

“In a poor state like Kogi, and you want me to close my eyes to that under the guise of ‘I’m being used.’ Being used by who at this stage of my life?”

Olukoyede further stated that he personally reached out to Bello, offering him a chance to clarify the situation in a respectful setting within the EFCC office but the ex-governor reportedly declined to cooperate, citing fears of harassment from an unnamed woman.

The EFCC boss added, “I didn’t initiate the case; I inherited the case file. I called for the file, and I said there are issues here.

“On my own, I called him, which I am not supposed to do, just to honour him as an immediate past governor. ‘Sir, there are issues. I’ve seen this case file. Can you just come let us clarify these issues?’

“He said, ‘Ha! Thank you, my brother. I know, but I can’t come. There’s one lady that has surrounded EFCC with over 100 people to come and embarrass me and intimitade me.’

Bello was said to have suggested that the EFCC come to his village rather than conduct an investigation at the agency’s quarters.

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Yahaya Bello Withdrew $720,000 From Kogi Account To Pay Child’s School Fees -EFCC Chairman

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, has revealed that a former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, transferred $720,000 from the government’s coffers to a bureau de change before leaving office to pay in advance for his child’s school fee.

Olukoyede revealed this during an interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said, “A sitting governor, because he knows he is going, moved money directly from government to bureau de change, used it to pay the child’s school fee in advance, $720,000 in advance, in anticipation that he was going to leave the Government House.

“In a poor state like Kogi, and you want me to close my eyes to that under the guise of ‘I’m being used.’ Being used by who at this stage of my life?”

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