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FG Suspends 5% Excise Duty On Telecom Companies

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The Federal Government has suspended the implementation of the 5% excise duty charge on telecom facilities earlier proposed by the FG.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, disclosed this on Monday when he inaugurated a committee to review the 5% excise duty.

Speaking during the inauguration of the committee on the review of the 5% excise duty in the telecom sector, Pantami said that President Buhari granted his prayer for immediate suspension of the 5% excise duty.

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“It is because of this the president has granted my prayers; no one immediate suspension of excise duty in the digital economy sector, and no two he approved that a committee be constituted to look into the matter carefully and advise him accordingly. This committee is to be chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.”

Speaking further he said, “The president has appointed me to be his eyes and ears in the sector. and it is my responsibility to ensure we are just and fair to the operators, government and most importantly our people that are the consumers.”

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He went further to tell the committee how he explained to the president on the effect of the excise duty on the sector.

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“Recently, it was announced that some of our respected brother and sister (government officials), kick started the process of introducing excise duty in the telecom sector in and from there and then, based on the constitution and being the representative of president Buhari in the sector. I rejected that whole heartedly being the representative of the president.

“I formalised my position and explained to him in a letter that could be referred to as a petition, (reasons; excise duty is usually fixed on luxury products

“I told the president (in the letter) that if care is not taken, that attempt will destroy the digital economy sector that is becoming the backbone of our economy.”

On why he kicked against the excise duty, he said, “Despite our achievements we have been recording some challenges in the sector and if care is not taken these challenges could be a barrier in the development of the sector in the next few years to come.

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“One of them; excessive taxes and sometimes multiple taxation. As it is today in the tax category of ICT sector (39) which is very worrisome.

“But as of today the ICT sector is over burdened by so many categories of taxes to the extent that today there are 41 categories of taxes at the federal and state level, particularly in the telecom sector. Some at federal level and some at state level.

“Beside these taxes are multiple taxes (the same taxes being collected at the federal level is also what the states are insisting be paid to them. If care is not taken this is what will jeopardise the achievements and gains that we have recorded so far in the sector.”

Pantami noted that prices of products and services in the order sector have increased significantly but the prices of products and services have not increased significantly in the last three years.

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The mobile Network Operators looking at things outside our sector like petroleum products, exchange rate, inflation, devaluation of the currency among others have been coming with many initiatives asking the regulator to allow them review their prices upward.

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“And whenever the regulator escalates the matter to me; I will always encourage and urged them to try and persevere with the little profit they are making because the current economic situation in Nigeria doesn’t allow us to continue to add burden on our poor citizens that our suffering and can hardly get three square meals in a day and broadband and telecommunications services are becoming a necessity that a luxury.

In his words, Mnos has been coming to us to allow them to increase prices of their products. I have been encouraging them to be patient. In these three years there were more than 15 attempts to increase the price of telecommunications services and in all of them I retained my position; saying no.”

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy will serve as Chairman of the Committee.

Members of the committee include: Pantami Chairman, while the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Representative of all Telecom companies in Nigeria.

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Edo Man Petitions EFCC Over Fraudulent Withdrawal Of ₦4 Million In His Access Bank Account

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has received a formal petition from Osehobo Onojie Bernard, a resident of Ebo Quarters, Benin City, alleging fraudulent activities involving his bank account No. 1838861087 with Access Bank.

In the petition dated June 24, 2024, Osehobo highlighted the careless handling and fraudulent transactions associated with his account by the bank authorities.

He told the Commission that an unauthorized withdrawal of ₦4,201,000 (four million two hundred and one thousand naira) was made from his account on May 16, 17, and 18, 2024, facilitated by officials of Access Bank.

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He explained that he opened the account in question in November 2023 when two identified Access Bank staff from their 39 Akpakpava Road, Benin City branch approached him to set up a High Interest Deposit Account (HIDA) with funds from his existing Access Bank account No. 0040251257, which he held at the Airport Road Benin City branch.

He said that subsequently, he was assigned a new HIDA account number, 1838861087.

Osehobo added that the Access Bank personnel opened the HIDA account number 1838861087 using the existing information from his other bank account, No. 0040251257, which he operated manually without an ATM card or mobile banking.

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READ ALSO: Lagos Taskforce Uuncovers 2 Illegal Petroleum Storage Facilities

He specified that withdrawals could only be made with a teller by verifying his signature, BVN, and NIN before approving transactions, especially for large sums.

In his detailed narrative, Osehobo recounted that by November 2023, the account had accumulated a significant balance, driven by interest yields.

However, discrepancies emerged in May 2024 when he did not receive a routine birthday wish from the bank. Instead, he received a message that included an OTP (One-Time Password), which raised his suspicions.

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Osehobo argued that, “My subsequent investigations revealed that the OTP was part of a scheme allegedly orchestrated by the bank officials to access my funds fraudulently.”

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He said that the unauthorized withdrawal occurred over multiple transactions on May 16, 17, and 18, 2024, without his knowledge or consent, facilitated by the misuse of the OTP system.

He expressed his conviction that Access Bank officials were complicit in the fraudulent withdrawals, leveraging internal banking processes to circumvent security protocols.

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He conveyed his frustration and the significant impact of the lost funds, which he described as a considerable portion of his financial assets.

Osehobo called on the EFCC to investigate the matter thoroughly, hold the responsible parties accountable, and recover the misappropriated funds

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Lagos Taskforce Uuncovers 2 Illegal Petroleum Storage Facilities

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The Lagos State Taskforce has uncovered two illegal petroleum storage facilities where over 2,000 litres of diesel were recovered during multiple sting operations of blackspots in Ikoyi and environs.

Also, a total of 114 suspects were arrested and five were released unconditionally after properly identifying themselves.

The operation was led by the State Taskforce Chairman, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Adetayo Akerele, in a late night operation on Tuesday night.

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Akele explained that the operation was based on the feedback mantra of “see something, say something” put in place by the agency and the directive and support of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Adegoke Fayoade, major blackspots at Mosley Street, Glover Road and Lateef Jakande Avenue in Ikoyi were raided by the agency after concerned residents highlighted the clustering numbers of unidentifiable individuals at those selected locations and the conversions of residential areas to safe havens for suspected criminals and miscreants.

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He said, “After having carefully analyzing the complaints received, a discreet investigation was carried out in the vicinity which confirmed the intelligence to be credible, and resulting in a late night raid.

“We have come out here to address issues of environmental and safety concerns in Ikoyi where residents have complained about the increasing numbers of miscreants who have converted these inner streets to restaurants, drinking spots, gambling spots, and boutiques to mention but a few.

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“It is an eyesore what we encountered here during our investigations and we will ensure that we restore sanity to these streets immediately.”

The Chairman further disclosed that an illegal petroleum storage facility was discovered during the operation where over 2000 litres of diesel was discovered in an unsafe location, posing a risk to both occupants of the uncompleted building and neighbours on the same street.

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He stated that the occupants of the building risked safety concerns regarding storage of petroleum products which if not properly managed could result in a fire disaster.

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“We have discovered over 2000 liters of diesel stylishly hidden in this abandoned building in an unsafe manner which could lead to a fire disaster.

“Diesel is highly flammable and also combustible if not properly stored. Therefore this miscreants are not just risking their lives through their ignorant actions but also the lives of their neighbors and passerby in the event of an explosion.”

Akerele also warned street traders who are still in the practice defacing the environment and disposing their waste into the gutters and drainage channels in any part of the state to move their trade to approved markets or risk being arrested.

He also warned miscreants who lay about and convert streets to religious grounds, social event centers and sports ground to desist forthwith or be prosecuted.

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Akerele stated that such selfish actions hinder on the right of residents to live in peace and serenity as prescribed in the THEMES PLUS agenda of the State Government.

“I urge every well meaning Lagosian to notify us of any environmental infraction by any individual or groups of individuals in any part of the Metropolis to prevent an environmental mishap.

“Its our duty and responsibility to ensure that such infractions are nipped in the bud to maintain sanity and habitability across board.

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“A total of 114 suspects were arrested and five were released unconditionally after properly identifying themselves and stating their business.

“The remaining suspects will be charged to court and all items confiscated will be forfeited to the state government through the court,” Akele affirmed.

 

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Abia Commissioner For Health Resigns

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The suspended Abia state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ngozi Okoronkwo, has tendered her resignation from office, to Governor Alex Otti.

Otti, had on June 11, 2024, suspended the Commissioner for Health over alleged financial misconduct. The Governor also set up a committee to probe the allegations against her.

Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Ukoha Njoku, in a statement, disclosed that the Governor had accepted the resignation and thanked Okoronkwo for her services and modest achievement in repositioning the health sector of the state.

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“The suspended Abia state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ngozi Okoronkwo has tendered her resignation letter to the Executive Governor of Abia State, His Excellency, Dr. Alex Chioma Otti, OFR.

“The Governor while accepting her resignation, thanked Dr. Okoronkwo for her services to our dear State and her modest achievements in repositioning the Health Sector for better service delivery in the last one year. He wished her well in her future endeavours.

“The Governor reiterated his commitment to the transformation of Abia State and reminded Abians that they gave him the mandate to assemble his team, and this includes hiring, suspending or sacking his appointees or rejigging and reshuffling his cabinet whenever the need arises for the sole purpose of delivering all his promises to the people,” the statement read.

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