A civil rights group, Joint Forces for the Defence of Democracy in Edo State (JOFDES) has berated the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki for violating the COVID-19 guidelines of social distance, wearing of face masks, not gathering of more than 20 persons in a place in his recent defection to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Recall that hundreds of party faithful from both parties divide last week gathered at the PDP’s Secretariat to receive Obaseki into his new found political party in the state
The group, through its leadership, Felix Osemwengie, expressed their displeasure in Benin.
“The essence of this emergency press conference today is to draw the attention of the Word Health Organization,(WHO), Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Inspector-General of Police, (IGP) and all well-meaning Nigerians and Edolites to the wilful, deliberate and flagrant violation of all guidelines and gazette on the prevention of COVID-19, especially on political gatherings in Edo State by the executive governor of the state and his supporters.
“This suspected attempt to infect the unsuspecting good people of Edo State with the dreaded COVID-19 virus by Mr. Goodwin Obaseki and his supporters was carefully planned and executed at the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Secretariat during the defection of the governor to the party”, he said.
Osemwengie said they are not against the defection of the governor to the party of his choice as it is his fundamental right but greatly vexed and disappointed that such activity was carried out by the people in government who have always claimed to have put the interest of the Edo people as their priority.
He said the government has earlier said he has approved the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium for such an event just as to maintain social distance, but wondered why he didn’t use the stadium rather than allowing the event to have taken place at the party’s secretariat where people more than the required numbers gathered to welcome into the party.
“You would recall that in the exercise of the governor’s power under the Edo State Dangerous Infectious Disease Law (Emergency Prevention) Regulation Act made in pursuant to Quarantine Act, Public Health Law and other legislation, placed a ban on all forms of political gatherings of more than 20 persons in Edo State and approved only the use of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium for any of such purposes.
” But we are shocked that the governor who made the order was the first person in the state to mindlessly violated it by mobilizing and gathering thousands of his political supporters at the over congested PDP secretariat along First East Circular Road, Benin City, without any regards to the social distancing rule and the compulsory use of face masks at public places”, he said.
In view of what happened during the defection of the governor, the leader of the group tasked those in the affairs of the COVID-19 pandemic to quarantine all those who attended the event in order to halt community spreading of the virus.
“Consequent upon the above, we are calling on the Inspector-General of Police, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Minister of Health, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to immediately quarantine and prosecute all those who were in that gathering as way done in the case of Fuke Akindele and Naira Marley.
“This would help to send a strong signal to those who are trampling on established rules and laws in Edo State”, he said.
NBA Drags FG, Lagos To Court Over New Proof Of Car Ownership Levy
Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law, NBA-SPIDEL, has dragged the Federal and Lagos State governments before a Federal High Court in Lagos over the imposition of a Proof of Ownership levy on all vehicle owners.
The NBA-SPIDEL is, among other demands, asking the court to declare the new yearly vehicle documentation, which came with a N1,000 price tag, as multiple taxation and unlawful.
The plaintiffs in the suit, which is yet to be assigned to a judge, are NBA-SPIDEL; the Chairman of the section, John Akpokpo-Martins; the Secretary, Funmi Adeogun, and a member of the Governing Council of NBA-SPIDEL, Francis Ogunbowale.
The defendants in the case are the Federal Government, the Joint Tax Board, and the Governor of Lagos State.
The plaintiffs are asking the court for a declaration that “by Section 86 (1) of the Personal Income Tax Act 2004 that sets up the Joint Tax Board (JTB), the power it purportedly exercised to impose yearly fees for annual renewal of Proof of Ownership (POC) Certificates on vehicle owners, is ultra vires, unlawful and unconstitutional.”
They are also urging the court for a declaration that the imposition of annual renewal of Proof of Ownership certificates on vehicle owners amounts to multiple taxation and, therefore, illegal because tax agencies and other agencies of Governments usually issue certificates of proof of ownership to vehicle owners at the point of registration of vehicles.
The plaintiffs are further seeking “an order striking down the provisions of sections 73(1), (2) & (3) of the National Road Traffic Regulation No. 101, Vol. 99 of 25th of December 2012, on the grounds of being in violent breach of Item 63 of Part I of the 2nd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and section 1(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and therefore unconstitutional.”
Nigeria’s Forex Market Needs Restructuring—Tinubu’s Aide
The Special Adviser to the President on Economic Affairs, Dr Tope Fasua, has called for a structural reform of Nigeria’s foreign exchange market.
Fasua made the call at a roundtable organised by the National Policy Advocacy Centre (NPAC) of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The theme of the event was “Unification of Foreign Exchange and the Effect of Fuel Subsidy Removal on the Business Community’’.
“I believe we should reform the Bureau De Change (BDC) sector and make it stronger. You cannot manage over 5,000 BDCs selling money on the streets.
“If we can do the structural reforms in the BDCs sector and the banks and supervise them well, the CBN with our reserves can incentivize that sector, allowing people to get money much quicker.
“And you have to define the illegal market and by then we will be able to find stability,” he said.
Fasua said that Nigeria spends over $45 billion annually importing refined petroleum products, milk, chemicals and fish, among others.
He said: “I hear things like scarcity of forex. What is scarcity of forex, as if the world owes us any forex.
“The world does not owe us any forex. The forex you get is depending on the trade that you do.
“If you look at Nigeria’s import and export profile, over 20 items that we import in Nigeria are in the billions of dollar range.
“Our biggest import, fuel and diesel take about $25 billion to $30 billion every year.
“We have things like cars, which is about four billion every year; sugar, fish, milk one billion each; wheat four billion; chemicals, three billion dollars; pharmaceuticals two billion dollars.”
Fasua listed crude oil and fertiliser as two things that Nigeria exports in the billion dollar range.
“The first is petroleum and gas, you will see a figure like $57 billion, but out of that only 30 per cent is ours, according to Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
“The international oil companies that have the technology that do production own most of that money,’’ he said.
The Director, Policy Advocacy Centre, ACCI, Mr Chidiebere Onwumere, said that foreign exchange unification held promises of increased transparency, improved access to forex and reduced market distortions.
He, however, said that it raises questions about exchange rate stability, inflationary pressures and the cost of imports.
“We must carefully consider how these factors will affect the competitiveness of our industries and the purchasing power of our citizens.
“Fuel subsidy removal, on the other hand, is expected to free up fiscal resources, reduce government spending, and potentially lead to increased investment in critical sectors.
“Yet, it also raises concerns about the immediate impact on transportation costs, inflation, and the welfare of our citizens, especially those in vulnerable communities,’’ he said.
Mr Oscar Onyema, Managing Director, Nigerian Exchange Group (NEG) PLC, said collaborative dialogue was essential in formulating policies that balance short-term challenges with long-term benefits.
Highlighting the effects of both policies on the economy, Onyema said that immediate transition could disrupt businesses and the economy in several ways.
Represented by Mrs Cordelia Ihedioha, Onyema said that businesses that were heavily reliant on imports may face short-term disruptions due to the sudden shift in exchange rates.
According to him, this could result in increased costs for imported raw materials, leading to potential price adjustments for end consumers.
“To mitigate these disruptions, businesses may need to explore alternative sourcing strategies and adjust their pricing models,” Onyema said
Mr Dele Alimi, Director General, Institute of Directors of Nigeria appealed to the Federal Government to take total control of the mineral sector.
He said: “The mineral sector over the years has been poorly handled by previous governments as host communities have been left impoverished by illegal mining activities.”
Alimi described the subsidy removal and unification of the foreign exchange as bold steps by the Federal Government, saying that it was a necessity for economic revival.
He urged more emphasis should be placed on efficiency of governance than cost of governance.
Dr Chijiokr Ekechukwu, Vice President of ACCI, urged the Federal Government to fix the refineries and dvocated alternative sources of energy for cars to cushion the effect of the petrol subsidy removal.
According to him, 60 per cent of cars in the United States run on electricity, adding, “that is where we should be headed for.”
He expressed concern that while the unification of foreign exchange rate brought checks and balances and better accountability, saying, “the high exchange has affected prices of goods and services.
“The inflation rate continues to coast upwards and there is a high cost of production, criminality, low standard of living and unemployment has risen above 33 per cent to 35 per cent.’’
Mr Asishana Okauru, the Director General of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, represented by Olarenwaju Ajibasile said the cost of governance needed to be channelled to the local sector.
“Pattronising locally made products will bost the local economy,’’ he said.
Olasupo Agbaje, General Manager Economic Regulations, Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said that efficiency in the downstream operations was key in sustaining the petrol subsidy removal.
“What we hope for and where we want to be is not just the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) being the sole supplier.
“We want other operators, the private sector coming in and this is one of the objectives of the Petroleum Industry Act,” Agbaje said.
Tinubu’s Ministers Resign
The Minister of Interior, Tunji Olubunmi-Ojo, and the Minister of State for Education, Tanko Sununu, have officially resigned from the House of Representatives.
Their letters of resignation were read on the floor of the House on Tuesday by Speaker Tajudeen Abbas.
Messrs Olubunmi-Ojo and Sununu were appointed by President Bola Tinubu and cleared by the Senate in August, however, the House had been on recess since July.
While Mr Olubunmi-Ojo represented the Akoko North-east/Akoko North-west federal constituency of Ondo State, Mr Sununu was the representative of the Yauri/Shanga/Ngaski federal constituency of Kebbi State in the lower chamber.
Section 68 of the 1999 Constitution provides that a member shall cease to be a member if appointed as minister.
“(1) A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if -he becomes President, Vice-President, Governor, Deputy Governor or a Minister of the Government of the Federation or a Commissioner of the Government of a State or a Special Adviser,” the section reads.
New member sworn-in
Meanwhile, Salisu Majigiri (PDP, Katsina) was sworn in as a member of the House at the resumption of plenary.
Mr Majigiri was declared the winner of the 25 February election for Mashi/Dutsi federal constituency of Katsina State after polling 27,387 votes to defeat his closest rival, Mansir Ali of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who polled 20,596 votes.
However, his candidacy was challenged by Nazifi Yusuf at the Supreme Court, which In April, affirmed the candidacy of Mr Majigiri.
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