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Twitter ban will hurt business, US, UK, others tell FG

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The United States, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have condemned Nigeria’s government for banning Twitter, saying it will hamper access to information and business.

The condemnation came after the country’s government threatened to arrest and prosecute any resident found using the Twitter app.

The government’s action followed the social media firm’s decision to delete a post by President Muhammadu Buhari and temporarily freezing his Twitter account.

A joint statement, the EU, US, UK, Canada and Ireland said banning systems of expression was wrong and not the way forward.

They said the suspension of Twitter would hinder access to information and hamper businesses.

“The diplomatic missions of Canada, the European Union (Delegation to Nigeria), the Republic of Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States of America convey our disappointment over the Government of Nigeria’s announcement suspending #Twitter and proposing registration requirements for other social media,” the statement read.

It stated further, “We strongly support the fundamental human right of free expression and access to information as a pillar of democracy in Nigeria as around the world and these rights apply online as well as offline. Banning systems of expression is not the answer.

“These measures inhibit access to information and commerce at precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to foster inclusive dialogue and expression of opinions, as well as share vital information in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The path to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less, communication to accompany the concerted efforts of Nigeria’s citizens in fulsome dialogue toward unity, peace and prosperity.

“As Nigeria’s partners, we stand ready to assist in achieving these goals.”

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Buhari set to address UN General Assembly

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President Muhammadu Buhari is set to address 76th Session of the high-level General Debate of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on  Friday, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

The Nigerian leader would deliver his address around 9am (around 2pm Nigerian time) to other world leaders during the morning session.

Buhari will speak to the theme of the Assembly and other global issues.

The theme for the 76th session is, “Building Resilience Through Hope – To Recover from COVID-19, Rebuild Sustainably, Respond to the Needs of the Planet, Respect the Rights of People and Revitalise the United Nation’’.

Friday’s session will also include speeches by leaders from The Gambia, South Sudan, Republic of Benin, Senegal and Germany, among others.

The Nigerian leader has participated in some bilateral meetings with a number of leaders of other countries’ delegations and heads of International Development organisations.

Buhari has met with the President of Burundi, Evariste Ndayishimiye, held meeting with Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation and also attended the UN Food Systems Summit.

The Nigerian leaders also held a bilateral meeting with Her Majesty, Maxima Zorreguieta, Queen of The Netherlands and participated at hybrid High-Level event, tagged “Transformative Actions for Nature and People”.

In addition, the President delegation had participated in other high-level meetings such as the Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on Reparations, Racial Justice and Equality for People of African Descent.

The delegation is also attended High Level Plenary Meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, among others. (NAN)

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VAT claim is about fiscal federalism- Lagos State

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Lagos State government on Thursday said it has a strong case in its demand to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).

It said its claims were also about fiscal federalism.

The state said VAT collection would neither impoverish other states nor would the process be cumbersome.

Commissioner for Information Strategy Gbenga Omotoso, who spoke on ‘Your View’ on TVC, said: “Lagos has a solid case in the ongoing legal dispute as the crux of the disagreement is about equity, justice and fairness.

“Whichever way it goes, it will also enrich our jurisprudence and enhance the way we see and relate to the law.

“No matter what, Lagos will always stand for true fiscal federalism.”

The commissioner noted that the volume of air, sea and road transport activities in Lagos puts pressure on the state’s infrastructure.

He added that additional revenue from VAT would facilitate infrastructure development for faster movement of goods and services, as well as economic growth for the benefit of Lagos and other states since prices will fall.

On the demand for a special status for Lagos, Omotoso described Lagos as a ‘giant that carries most of the burden of Nigeria on its shoulders and the engine-room of the nation’s financial and business activities.

“Lagos must be empowered to play this role to the benefit of Nigerians”, he insisted.

Omotoso noted that other states can partner with Lagos to generate more revenue or resources by taking advantage of its huge population and massive market to sell their agricultural produce and other products, while profits realised therefrom would be repatriated to create more wealth for farmers and other producers in such states.

According to him, Lagos almost became an orphan following the movement of the Federal Capital Territory to Abuja in 1991, resulting in modest support from the Federal Government.

He was confident there would be resources for more infrastructure and facilities in transportation, health, education, e.t.c, that will benefit Lagosians and others who troop in every day if the state is allowed to collect VAT.

Omotoso added that the state will sensitise residents concerning its position on the debate.

Also yesterday, Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel said states were entitled to collect VAT.

He was a guest on Arise TV News ‘Morning Show’ aired to mark the state’s 34th anniversary.

According to him, it was wrong for the Federal Government to collect and share revenue from VAT because it is generated from businesses and activities in states.

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday asked all taxpayers to continue remitting VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

She said in an advertorial: “The ruling of the Court of Appeal employs all taxpayers in all the states to continue to collect VAT on behalf of the government in compliance with the VAT Act.”

But, Emmanuel said despite the huge oil and gas investments in the state, Akwa Ibom receives a paltry N2 billion from VAT.

He backed his Rivers and Lagos states counterparts, Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, both of whom have signed their VAT bills.

Emmanuel said: “If my brother state has gone to court, it is the same principle that we stand on. I think we are all in the same bucket, the same basket.

“All the 36 states do not need to join at the same time. Today my brother in Rivers State has gone far enough.

“I think the case has gone to the Appeal Court and there is also a stay of execution.

“Let me allow the rule of law. But for states saying they do not need VAT, maybe they do not know the hidden treasure in VAT.

“If today I sell a house in Uyo, or any other person sells a property, the value is enhanced because of the good roads, electricity, security and water I have created, and the value I have added to the property. Why should the VAT on the property not come to me 100 per cent?

“Just look at the money I have spent on capital projects in the first quarter put at N143 billion, if you take 7.5 per cent of that, why should all not come to me?”

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No going back on mega protest at UN Headquarters – Yoruba Nation, others

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Self-determination agitators operating on the platform of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS) have vowed to go ahead with the grand finale of its one-million-man freedom march at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the United States on Friday.

The grand finale of the march coincides with the ongoing UN Assembly where President, Muhammadu Buhari, is expected to address the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Akintoye in a statement, on Thursday, made available to The Nation by NINAS Director of Communications, Maxwell Adeleye, accused the Federal Government of sponsoring a counter-protest at the United Nations Headquarters tomorrow.

He alleged that the Nigerian Government has started hiring black foreigners living in the United States of America with $500 per head to stage a Pro-Buhari and One Nigeria March opposite the United Nations Headquarters.

Akintoye vowed that the will of the people would prevail no matter how the Federal Government tries to scuttle the NINAS Grand Finale March.

Apart from Akintoye, the Secretary-General, Tony Nnadi, who represents the Lower Niger Congress and Prof. Yusuf Turaki, who represent the Middle-Belt Movement at NINAS have also jointly called on the UN to take urgent step to prevent Nigeria from descending into chaos.

NINAS, which described the 1999 Constitution as a fraud against the people of South and Middle-Belt, having been “enacted without the consent of the people,” demanded the conduct of a regional referendum so that the indigenous people can decide on their nationhood, among others.

All the indigenous people of the South and Middle-Belt in the United States and Canada have been urged to troop out in large number tomorrow.

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