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We won’t pay fictitious tax – Banks, Present your records for reconciliation – Imo Govt



It is no longer news that banks in Imo State were shut down from Thursday, December 12 to Monday, December 16, following Imo State Government’s order to seal the branches of the banks that were affected by the distrain order for alleged non-payment of withholding taxes over their savings between 2004 and 2011.  What is news rather is that the banks in Imo State are accusing the state government of imposing arbitrary and fictitious sums of money as taxes on them.  The banks also accuse the government of parading wrong figures from banks, as the Imo State Government at no time visited the banks for proper audit in this regard.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 by Imo State Bank Managers Forum (an association of All Bank Branch Managers in Imo State) and signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Ray Ahumibe and Peter Nwachukwu respectively, the bankers said that their resolve to resume operations on Tuesday, December 17, was in consideration of interventions of well-meaning citizens of the state and their sensitivity to the plight of their loyal customers in and beyond the state.  They expressed their commitment towards the development of the state with the belief that such should encourage the Imo State Government to unseal the branches of their banks affected by the distrain order. They demanded that proper and all inclusive audit of the withholding tax deductions on interests paid on savings accounts and remittances should be carried out on the banks to guarantee transparency and openness.

According to the press statement, when in September 2013, news filtered that the Imo Board of Internal Revenue wanted to distrain banks arbitrarily assigned huge tax figures ranging from N100m to N700m per bank as un-remitted withholding tax on interests paid on savings accounts between 2004 – 2011, the banks undertook the following measures to address the impending disaster:

-Engaged the Board of Internal Revenue disclaiming their figures and challenging them to substantiate their positions.  The banks said that the Board of Internal Revenue failed on their agreement and the directors were disbanded.

-Secondly, they took a higher step of engaging the office of the Deputy Governor, who was in-charge of the matter at the time but never received the required attention.

-Finally, they said that they wrote to the Executive Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha himself and the Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly, stating their complaints and demanding for audience on the sensitive matter.  To their greatest chagrin, the bankers said they were never granted audience.

The release further stated that the banks embarked on those approaches because they were convinced that the government paraded wrong figures as she never visited the banks to carry out any audit for the said purpose. They were surprised that the government in conjunction with her lawyer sealed off some banks on the basis of an ex-parte order that was not served the banks.

Meanwhile, the Bank Managers Forum on Wednesday, Dec 18, met with the Imo State Government to chat the way forward.  In his reaction, Governor Okorocha described their action as embarrassing to the government and the state in general.  Addressing the bankers, the Governor lamented, “Is it an attempt to sabotage the activities of government through a Forum, which is not registered?  Why did you not ask your members to discuss with government or go to court for redress, rather than embarking on a strike at the festive period when people need money”.

The Leader gathered that the bankers reinstated their resolve to contribute to the development of the state while at the same time not compromising the ethics of their profession. They demanded that government conduct proper auditing and as well unseal their branches in order to serve the people better.

Governor Okorocha however accepted the bank’s promise to present their records to the Board of Internal Revenue for proper reconciliation between the state government and the banks.



Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes



Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers



CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.

“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?

“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.

“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.

“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”

Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.

“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.

“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.

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Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike



Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.

Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.

The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.

Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.

Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).

The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”

On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.

The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.

“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.

The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”

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