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Appeal court joins Lagos in FIRS suit over VAT collection

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The court of appeal, Abuja division, has granted the application of the Lagos state government as a co-respondent in the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The FIRS is challenging the judgment of the federal high court, Port Harcourt, which restrained the agency from collecting VAT and personal income tax (PIT) in Rivers state.

At the lower court, the FIRS had appealed for a stay of execution, but the court dismissed it on the basis that it would “negate the principle of equity”.

Consequently, FIRS went to the court of appeal.

On September 10, the Attorney-general of Lagos, Moyosore Onigbanjo, applied to be joined as a party in the appeal. The state had also passed a VAT bill into law.

Onigbanjo had submitted that the outcome of the appeal would have a direct impact on the state.

“My lord, it is not in dispute that Lagos, one of the federating states in Nigeria, is entitled to collect VAT and that’s our interest,” he said.

“Even the appellant recognised that the Lagos state government has an interest in the matter in their affidavits in support of stay of execution where copious reference was made to the Lagos state government.”

Delivering ruling on Thursday, Haruna Tsammani, presiding judge, held that Lagos state has been able to prove that it has a direct interest in the subject matter of this appeal.

He agreed that all the reliefs sought by the Rivers state government which were granted at the high court made reference to “any other state of the federation.”

“It is not in doubt that Lagos state is a constituent state in Nigeria,” the judge held.

“It is, therefore, my finding that the applicant has been able to establish that he has a direct case in the subject matter of this appeal.

“The application for joinder is in the appeal as the third respondent is accordingly granted.”

The court also ordered that all the processes in the suit should be served on the state.

On Tuesday, Oyo state also filed a joiner application before the court of appeal.

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Ortom suspends mining activities in Benue to curb insecurity

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Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Thursday ordered the immediate suspension of mining activities in the state as a means of curbing security threats emanating from that area.

He gave the directive at the meeting held with Kwande stakeholders at the Benue State Government House, Makurdi.

The governor said the activities of miners were already posing threat to the peace of the state.

He said that the state government would set up committees at state, local government and ward levels to regulate the activities of the miners.

He said, “Recent events in the Kwande Local Government Area are posing danger and threat to the peace in council and the state in general and this is as a result of mining activities in the area.

“We know that there are some miners with licences from the Federal Government because it is the responsibility of Federal Government to grant licences.

“We know that some of the miners don’t have licences; we have foreigners and indigenous ones among them.

“As a result of the danger the activities of the miners pose in the state, we hereby suspend all mining activities in the state including those with licences.

The governor asked all licensed miners to register with the state Ministry of Land, Survey and Solid Minerals.

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Emirates Suspends All Nigerian Flights Over $85m Blocked Funds

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Emirates Airlines has announced the suspension of its flights from Nigeria with effect from September 1, 2022.
The decision was due to the inability of the airline to repatriate its funds from Nigeria.
Recall that the airline had in a leaked letter to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said it would reduce its frequencies in Nigeria from 11 to seven by mid August over its trapped $85m in Nigeria.
Daily Trust reports that other airlines may also follow suit as blocked funds belonging to foreign airlines have hit over $600m which they are unable to repatriate as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) could not meet airlines’ request for dollars.
In line with the bilateral air service agreements (BASAs), foreign airlines are expected to issue their tickets in naira while the CBN provides the dollar equivalence for repatriation to their home countries.
In a statement on Thursday morning, Emirates said it would stop all its flights to Nigeria, adding it might re-evaluate its decision if there was any positive development in the coming days.
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The statement read: “Emirates has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and we have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.
“Regrettably there has been no progress. Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective 1 September 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.
“Should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, we will of course re-evaluate our decision. We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much needed connectivity for Nigerian travellers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations.”
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Niger, Benin, Togo Owe Nigeria N5.8bn For Power In 2020 – Report

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The Republic of the Niger, Republic of Benin and Togolese Republic did not pay a N5.86 billion electricity debt in 2020 from an invoice of N16.31bn issued to them by the Nigerian Electricity Market (NEM) for the year.

According to the report for 2020 released by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the companies for each of the countries are Societe Nigerienne d’electricite (SNE), Societe Beninoise d’Energie Electrique (SBEE) and Compagnie Energie Electrique du Togo (CEET) respectively.

The remittances showed that the Nigerian Market Operator (MO) gave the countries N16.31bn from which they paid N10.45bn for the services received from MO, while N5.86bn was outstanding.

Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd, termed a special customer in Nigeria, and its host community did not pay anything after consuming N1.08bn worth of electricity in the year. The invoice from Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) to the company was N930m, while that of MO was N150m. NERC recommended in the report that, “MO and NBET must activate the relevant safeguards against continued non-settlement of market obligations by these market participants.”

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Also, in 2020 NERC issued five new generation licences and renewed three others which would add 667.70 megawatts (MW) to the grid. The new licences can add 235MW while the renewed licences were for 346MW capacity of electricity generation. It also gave approval to 33 Meter Asset Providers (MAPs) and certified 17 Meter Service Providers (MSPs).

On metering, the report indicated that 537,400 meters were installed for consumers in 2020, a 60.4 per cent higher figure than the 334,896 meters installed in 2019.

Despite this, the huge metering gap for end-use customers is still a key challenge in the industry. Registered customers grew to 11,841,819 (11.8m) in 2020 but just 4,666,191 (4.6m) or 39.40 per cent of them were metered.

“Therefore, 60.60 per cent of the registered electricity customers are on estimated billing contributing to apathy toward payment for electricity bills,” it stated.

Daily Trust

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