The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, Omoyele Sowore on Wednesday, knocked President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, over the newly-redesigned naira notes.
Sowore accused Buhari and Emefiele of playing Nigerians by redesigning the naira.
In a tweet, the AAC presidential candidate described the president and the CBN governor as crooks.
He stressed that no significant change occurred to the naira, and it seems Nigerians have been deceived again.
Buhari had unveiled the redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 notes at the commencement of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The new Naira notes will become legal tender commencing from December 15, while the old ones will cease to be legal tender effective February 1, 2023.
This is the first time in 19 years that Nigeria will be redesigning some of her currency notes.
Sharing a photograph on Twitter, Sowore expressed disappointment at the development.
He wrote: “@GodwinIEmefiele of the @cenbank, and @MBuhari just played Nigerians over the fraudulent so-called redesign of the Naira. Nothing was “redesigned” just a change of dye. Crooks! #WeCantContinueLikeThis.”
Kerosene Price Hits N1,041.05 Per Litre
The National Bureau of Statistics has said the average retail price of household kerosene paid by consumers in October was N1, 041.05 per litre.
The NBS stated in its “National Household Kerosene Price Watch” for October 2022 that the average price was a 9.90 per cent increase over the N947.30 per litre recorded in September 2022.
“On a year-on-year basis, the average retail price per litre of the product increased by 145.87 per cent from N423.42 recorded in October 2021.”
On state profile analysis, the report showed that the highest average price per litre of kerosene in October 2022 was recorded in Cross River at N1,304.17, followed by Enugu at N1,300.00 and Lagos at N1,294.44.
Conversely, it said the lowest price was recorded in Borno at N783.33, followed by Rivers at N804.17 and Bayelsa at N805.67.
The NBS said that analysis by zone showed that the South-East recorded the highest average retail price per litre of Kerosene at N1,191.14, followed by the South-West at N1,142.60.
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It said the North-East recorded the lowest average retail price per litre of kerosene at N905.18.
The report said the average retail price per gallon of kerosene paid by consumers in October 2022 was N3,516.87, indicating an 8.67 per cent increase from N3,236.27 recorded in September 2022.
“On a year-on-year basis, the average price per gallon of kerosene increased by 126.46 per cent from N1,552.96 recorded in October 2021.”
Private Jet Owners Sue Govt Over N30bn Tax
Owners of foreign-registered private jets, comprising top business moguls, leading commercial banks and other rich Nigerians, have dragged the Federal Government to court seeking to prevent the government from grounding their planes for allegedly refusing to pay import duty on the jets.
The Federal Government had last November approved the decision of the Nigeria Customs Service to ground 91 private jets belonging to some wealthy Nigerians over their alleged refusal to pay import duties running to over N30bn.
As such, following a presidential approval, the NCS in a letter directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency to ground the affected private jets with immediate effect.
But owing to issues bothering on inter-agency rivalry and disagreements, the relevant government agencies could not ground the private jets.
However, in the past few months, the Customs has been making underground moves to perfect the process of grounding private jets whose owners failed to pay the import duty, multiple sources close to the development confirmed to The PUNCH on Tuesday.
17 jet owners
Also, further findings by our correspondents over the weekend revealed that at least 17 private jet owners had gone to court to stop the Federal Government from implementing the order.
According to the court papers seen by The PUNCH, the jet owners are seeking a judicial review as to whether it is lawful for them to pay the controversial import duty on their private jets or not.
The jet owners had sued the government using the foreign shell companies and trustees through which the foreign-registered jets were purchased.
Oftentimes, Nigerians and corporate bodies buy their foreign-registered private jets through foreign shell companies and trustees. Experts believe they often prefer to register the jets in foreign countries like the United States, United Kingdom, and Isle of Man, among others, to preserve the value of the aircraft in the event they want to sell it, as well as pay cheaper insurance premiums.
The latest findings showed that the jet owners had approached the Federal High Court Abuja seeking the court to determine, among other things, if they were liable to pay import duty.
The suit, with number FHC/ABJ/CS/1565/2021, is described as the matter of an application for judicial review by foreign registered aircraft against the Nigeria Customs Service and Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.
According to the court document, the 17 applicants, which are mostly foreign companies of the Nigerian jet owners are: Aircraft Trust and Financing Corp Trustee, UAML Corp, Bank of Utah Trustee, Masterjet AVIACAO Executive SA, and Cloud Services Limited.
Others are MHS Aviation GmbH, Murano Trust Company Limited, Panther Jets, SAIB LLC, Empire Aviation Group, and Osa Aviation Limited.
The list also includes BUA Delaware Inc, Flying Bull Corporation Limited, Air Charter Inc, Sparfell Luftahrt GmbH, WAT Aviation Limited, and ATT Aviation Limited.
The NCAA and Customs were listed as respondents.
In a written address in support of the first respondents objector notice of preliminary objection, the court paper read in part, “The brief facts of this case are that the first respondents, having discovered that some operators of aircraft imported them under the guise of Temporary Importation Permit, were permanently imported into Nigeria and given TIP status to evade payment of lawful customs.”
A hearing date is yet to be fixed for the suit, according to preliminary findings by our correspondent.
However, there are strong indications that the NCS is making frantic efforts to get the private jet owners to pay the import duty.
Multiple sources confirmed on Tuesday that the NCS was not giving up on the decision to collect the revenue on behalf of the Federal Government, having obtained a presidential approval on the matter.
It was gathered that the agency might take a major decision on the matter very soon. It was further learnt that the Customs is in possession of government documents indicating that the private jet owners are by law required to pay import duty.
However, the spokesperson for NCAA, Mr Sam Adurogboye, said he was yet to be briefed but noted that, “’If a case is filed against an individual or organisation, what is to be done is to put up appearance and defend oneself.”
The NCS had in March last year embarked on a review of import duties paid on private jets brought into the country since 2006.
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Following the alleged discovery that several private jet owners, under the guise of Temporary Import Permit, had failed to pay the statutory import duty to the coffers of the government, the CG of Customs, Hameed Ali, set up a verification panel to review all TIPs and the relevant aircraft import documents of all private jets in the country.
At the end of the 60-day exercise, 57 private jets, which had licences for commercial charter operations, were cleared and issued with Aircraft Operators Certificate by the Customs.
However, 29 private jets, whose owners came for the verification, were found to be liable to pay the import duty.
The Customs also compiled a list of another 62 private jets whose owners failed to appear for the verification exercise but were found liable for import duty payment.
However, other private jet owners seeking to pay their import duty were given a 14-day ultimatum to clear the debts.
It is unclear the number of the jet owners that later paid the duty.
However, a list of 91 private jets whose owners had failed to present themselves for the import duty payment were presented to the NCAA, FAAN, and NAMA for the immediate grounding of their operations.
Some owners of the 91 jets reportedly wrote protest letters to the NCS, arguing why they could not pay the import duty because the jets were under lease payments.
The Customs, in its response to the letters, queried the rationale for bringing in the planes and allegedly fraudulently exporting them under questionable documentation processes in the past 10 years.
Unconfirmed officials had said the Ministry of Aviation directed the NCAA, FAAN and NAMA to suspend the grounding of the flight operations of the affected private jets.
Aircraft owners speak
Speaking on the development on Tuesday, the President, Association of Private Aircraft Owners Association, Mr Alex Nwuba, there is a need for the government to become transparent in the process of registering private jets.
He also said it might be difficult for the government to collect tax on private jets that are not fully imported into the country.
He said, “The idea is to ensure that people pay tax on imported aircraft. However, by keeping the registration of the jets offshore, how do you then pay tax on something that is foreign? The aircraft may have come and gone, but how do you pay tax on something that is not imported.
“The dilemma is if you register your private jet in Nigeria (5N), it is seen that it now have a lower value. The problem is that there is no transparency in our aircraft registration process. You cannot take the number of the aircraft, do a search and get the details. But if you do that for US-registered plane, you can get the details. But the summary is that you cannot collect duty on aircraft that is not imported.”
Nwuba, a pilot and former managing director of Associated Airlines, said the cost of duty might be one of the factors discouraging some private jet owners.
He said, “Of course, you are made to put up a bond when you are bringing in an aircraft on a temporary basis. However, while we are looking for revenue, it is not everywhere we can get it. Another issue is that, if you buy a private jet for $80m, you may need to pay a duty of over $10m; that may be high to some people.”
Some of the 91 private jets meant to be grounded belong to the senior pastors of some popular Pentecostal churches in the country, some Tier-1 banks with one of the banks owning two upmarket jets, the CEOs of some indigenous oil companies, and the chairmen of some Tier-1 banks.
They’ve Hidden Plans – Mixed Reactions Trail CBN’s New Naira Notes
Nigerians have shared divergent opinions on the recently released new banknotes by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on Wednesday announced the entry of the new notes into the country’s financial space.
The CBN boss, while explaining the features of the redesigned notes, told State House Correspondents that it was in line with global best practices, noting that it was mandatory for the naira to be redesigned and re-issued every five to eight years.
The last time the bank redesigned the naira was in 2014 when it changed the design of just the 100 naira note to commemorate Nigeria’s centenary.
According to him, it is regrettable that the naira has not been redesigned for the past 19 years owing to lack of political will from previous administrations.
“In the past, I have to confess that attempts by the CBN to redesign and re-issue the naira notes have been resisted. It is only President Muhammadu Buhari that has exhibited the courage to do so,” he stated.
Emefiele said it was the mandate of the CBN to redesign and re-issue the notes, stressing that the exercise would become a regular trend after five to eight years.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has in recent years undertaken the redesigning of her currency for various reasons.
For instance, in response to the expansion in economic activities and to facilitate an efficient payments system, the ₦100, ₦200, ₦500 and ₦1000 banknotes were introduced in December 1999, November 2000, April 2001 and October 2005 respectively.
On 28th February, 2007, as part of the economic reforms, ₦20 was issued for the first time in a polymer substrate, while the ₦50, ₦10 and ₦5 banknotes, as well as ₦1 and 50K coins were reissued in new designs, and the ₦2 coin was introduced.
On 30th September, 2009, the redesigned ₦50, ₦10 and ₦5 banknotes were converted to polymer substrate following the successful performance of the ₦20 (polymer) banknote. Thus, all lower denomination banknotes were now printed in the polymer substrate.
Speaking on the development, Godwin Emefiele, added that the move to introduce newly designed notes became imperative following the abnormalities bedevilling Nigerian financial, monetary and security systems.
The circulation of the new designs will begin on December 15, 2022.
But the introduction of the new naira banknotes has received a lot of reactions from Nigerians .
Some economic experts have pointed out that apart from the change in colour of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 naira notes, its security features have been enhanced.
But the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, Omoyele Sowore knocked President Buhari and Emefiele, accusing them of playing Nigerians by redesigning the banknotes.
Sowore slammed Buhari, saying that no significant change occurred to the naira, and it seems Nigerians have been deceived again.
For Shehu Sani, a former Nigerian lawmaker, it was only a colour change that was introduced in the new notes, saying, “If it’s Naira colour, the CBN should have just engaged Snapchat.”
A senior lecturer of the Department of Economics, Kaduna State University, Professor Abdulmalik Abdulkadir, said with the current redesign of banknotes, embezzlement of public money by those in position of power, would be minimised
Speaking to Journalists in Kaduna on Wednesday, Prof Abdulmalik noted that since the new notes are yet to be in circulation, what everyone is after is how to change the old currency which may soon fade away.
According to him, some public servants in positions of authority are also scared of stealing public funds as they would be caught anytime, anywhere.
Few Nigerians, who spoke to our correspondent on the streets of Abuja, also shared their thoughts. While some of them believe that it is a good way to stop politicians from money laundering ahead of the 2023 general elections, some others feel it is a waste of time.
Jennifer Adimso said, “I’m surprised that people still believe in this government and their policies. You’re talking about preventing politicians from laundering money but that’s a lie. Who is Emefiele working for? He is working for the APC. In fact, he is a member of the APC. He was contesting for the APC presidential primary if not for the pressure from Nigerians.
“In fact he went to court to challenge Nigerians against him. He is working for his party and if anybody is planning to launder money, it is APC. You’ll see bullion vans parked in the compound of some individuals and no one will question them. I believe they have some politicians they’re targeting. They’ve concluded their plans. These people think way ahead of us. Changing the colours of the N200, N500 and N1000 notes is just another way to distract Nigerians. Nothing more.”
David Sam Ade said, “All I can say is that the colour of those banknotes have changed. I’m not an expert to know the security features but all I can tell you is that the change won’t contribute anything. Now tell me, will it change the prices of garri, rice, yam, onions and other food items in the market? Buhari and his team are bent on deceiving Nigerians. We can’t wait for their tenure to end. People are suffering and all you can do is change the colour of money. It makes no sense to me. The reason why Emefiele is still there as the CBN governor is because he’s as clueless as the President himself.”
Pastor Jewel Abianso said, “Nigerians should be prayerful. Nigeria is drifting under the current government. See, the redesigning of the naira note may be good to many of us but we may not know the idea behind it. The question is why is it happening now? They said it is to stop money laundering against the election but how do we know the other underlying reasons? When a government has established itself on deceit, it becomes difficult to know when it is taking a good measure that would be beneficial to its people. I believe Nigeria has more significant problems than changing the colour of some currency denominations. Once again, I’ll encourage Nigerians to pray hard ahead of the forthcoming elections. Let’s pray for change and to have a government we can trust.”
Meanwhile, Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had described the development as apt and commendable.
He said it was “a well-considered and timely response” to the challenges of currency management.
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