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Burnt mall: Lagos traders to get tax break, financial support

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Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has promised to assist tenants and shop owners who suffered huge losses in the recent looting and burning of the Circle Mall by hoodlums in Lekki in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest.

 The governor said this during a condolence visit and meeting with the tenants and shop owners at the mall, offering to give them a tax break and some financial assistance, according to a statement by Sanwo-Olu’s Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile.

It would be recalled that some hoodlums went on the rampage on Wednesday October 21, after the EndSARS protests and looted property worth billions of naira at the Circle Mall and set parts of the building ablaze.

Speaking on his administration’s readiness to assist those affected by destruction at the mall, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the state government would not leave the people to bear the pains alone, noting that government would assist them to return to their business.

The governor said the state government would give all business owners in the burnt Circle Mall tax break of PAYE and appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that they get tax relief from the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS).

Governor Sanwo-Olu said the state government would give victims of the Circle Mall financial support, which would be in form of grant or loans to cushion the effect of the looting and destruction of their respective shops and stores.

Sanwo-Olu said the grant support would be a non-refundable financial support to the victims.

He said the affected businesses were not expected to pay back while the lending support would be in form of a loan, adding that he was already discussing with some financial institutions to assist people with zero interest loans.

Sanwo-Olu also asked the shop owners to reach out to the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) and urged them to make use of the opportunities being provided by the agency in assisting people in business, especially small-scale businesses.

The governor further implored people on reorientation of value system and civil responsibility for everybody to be agent of positive change in their community and anywhere they found themselves.

Reiterating his administration’s commitment to security of lives and property in the state, Sanwo-Olu said that Lagos State would no longer tolerate hoodlums looting and destroying government and private businesses and properties.

He said though Lagos State Government could not stop people from coming into the state, the governor warned people with criminal intentions to go elsewhere before being smoked out by the government.

The governor said his government was ready to encourage people who are in Lagos for business and would go extra mile to protect businesses in the state.

Speaking earlier, the tenants at Circle Mall thanked Governor Sanwo-Olu for showing empathy in the face of daunting challenges.

They asked him to assist them financially so as to get back on their feet.

They also appealed to Lagos State Government to strengthen security around the Circle Mall to prevent future occurrence of the two attacks they suffered in the last 13 months.

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FG dismisses Transparency International (TI) verdict on Nigeria

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Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

Federal Government, yesterday, dismissed the recent verdict on Nigeria by Transparency International (TI), which said the country dropped five places in the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

The government said it is not bothered by the verdict, as TI is oblivious of the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption successes.

It boasted that some of the government’s legacy projects have been facilitated with funds known as Abacha loot, hitherto stolen and stashed abroad by a former Nigerian leader but returned to the country.

This came against the backdrop of reports that Nigeria scored 24 out of 100 points while ranking 150 among 180 countries on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index released by TI, a development which has continued to stoke concern by citizens.

Although the country maintained its previous year’s (2021) score of 24 out of 100 points, however, there was a change in rank from 154 to 150, as some other countries performed more poorly in 2022.

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Fielding questions, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, downplayed the rating, saying the Nigerian government’s fight against corruption is not at the whims and caprices of the global agency.

The minister spoke after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said: “We are not really worried or bothered about rating of the TI, because we know that everything we do is to ensure that we fight corruption the best way we know how to. If TI is not seeing this, then I think it has to change its template. But, again, we’re not fighting corruption to impress TI.

“We are not fighting corruption because we want to impress Transparency International or any organisation whatsoever. We’re fighting corruption because we believe if we do not fight corruption, there’ll be no growth, either in terms of the economy or even political.”

The minister added: “Therefore, what we do and what we’re putting in place to fight corruption is not because we want to be rated by anybody. I can assure you that we do not know what template TI is using. Whatever template it is using, it is clearly oblivious of what this administration is doing to fight corruption.

“Corruption fighting is not just by how many people have you arrested? How many people have you tried? How many people have you convicted? Of course, even in that respect, we have a very impressive record.”

Guardian

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East-West road, 43 others to be completed without delay – Fashola

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All 44 road projects in the approved phase two of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme including the East-West road will be completed without any delay or break.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), stated this, stressing that sustainability of funding for the critical infrastructure in Nigeria would be guaranteed.

Fashola, who spoke in Abuja, noted that unlike in the past, when there was inadequate funding of infrastructure, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had secured alternative sources of funding that could guarantee sustainability from the beginning of the projects to their completion.

He said the tax credit scheme remained a new model that encourages partnership with private companies where taxes are paid in advance to enable the government invest in notable projects that would be beneficial to its citizens.

The minister said the Federal Government had focused on nine major axes of Nigeria, adding that the A1 – A4 axis covered the Northern part of the country, while the A5-A9 axis covered the East and West of the country.

He said the successful completion of all the roads would lead to sustainable mobility for Nigerians.

“The roads like Akure – Ado –Ekiti and East-West which people have been complaining about would be adequately catered for with the approval of the second phase of the NNPC Tax Credit Scheme,” he said.

On payment of compensation, Fashola noted that it would not be paid to anyone occupying the government’s Right of Way (RoW) and appealed to members of the communities occupying the areas to vacate.

Permanent Secretary of the ministry, represented by the Director overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Folorunsho Esan, said in line with the Executive Order 7 (2019), phase one was approved on October 27, 2021.

He stated that with the completion of phase one, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has also approved phase II of the scheme to fund 44 critical road infrastructure to the tune of N1.96 trillion naira.

Esan said that as it was done with phase one, phase two would be governed by a set of guidelines to be issued to each contractor, adding that there would be a funding intervention agreement to be implemented in addition to the standard condition of the contract governing the execution of the projects.

He said that the availability of this new funding window will ensure steady cash flow and a timely completion of projects.

He also stated that the NNPC intervention which began in October 2021 with phase one has now occupied the top of the log with a portfolio well in excess of N2.6 trillion.

On the part of NNPC, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Mallam Mele Kyari, who was represented by the Chief Financial Officer, Umar Aliya, said that funding would not be an issue anymore as the company is committed to fully funding the next phase.
“We are committed to setting aside funds for phase II. Funding would not be a problem. What is important to us is that our consultant will need to validate the value for money and the quality of work. We will not compromise the quality and timely completion of work,“ he said.
“There is no need for excuses. As for us, on our part, we are committed and we implore the contractors to do quality work and do it on time so that the road projects can be open for use to Nigerians,” he added.
The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) Mohammed Nami, explained that most of the roads captured by Executive Order 7 to be executed by the NNPC were mostly road projects inherited by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.
“So, we are appealing to Nigerians to trust Executive order 007 so that government will continue to provide the physical infrastructure that our people need,“he said.

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Nigeria ranks 150 out of 180 countries in 2022 Transparency International Corruption Index

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Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani

The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, has announced that Nigeria ranked 150 out of 180 countries in the 2022 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

This according to Rafsanjani is four places lower than the 154th position in the country’s 2021 CPI results.

Rafsanjani made the announcement on Tuesday at a press briefing held at CISLAC meeting hall, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

He however added that in terms of points, the country has retrained 24 points it had in 2021.

He also noted that the data index used for the CPI is not collected by CISLAC/TI- Nigeria but by Independent and reputable organisations with sound research methodologies.

“While Nigeria moved four places up on the country ranking, it has maintained it’s previous score of 24 which is it’s lowest score on the CPI since 2012, which suggests a slowdown in the steady decline observed in the previous three CPI’s, he said.”

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The CISLAC boss lamented the rate of corruption in the country and reserved some blames for the Judiciary.

“Nigeria as a country has reached a point where citizens should come out in their millions to protest against corruption, thus, with the expectations that this regime could address the issue of corruption, yet the world continues to face corruption with the help of high profile officials,” he lamented.

Among other recommendations, CISCLAC called on the executive arm of government to stop granting pardon to corrupt politicians recklessly.

As a means to curb and tackle the incessant corruption in Nigeria, CISLAC also recommended as follows:

1. The presidency, INEC, political parties, security actors and other relevant bodies should ensure that the 2023 general election are free, fair and credible.
2. The relevant anti-graft agencies should ensure that high profile corruption cases are pursued to their logical conclusion for the benefit of Nigeria and her citizens.
3. Agencies given the mandate to recover assets under the proceeds of Crime (and Management) Act 2022 should ensures that they establish a database where information about assets in their custody is easily accessed by citizens in line with the Act and the proactive provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
4. The Federal government should address the lingering issue of oil theft in the country.
5. The relevant agencies should investigate those behind the important of toxic fuel to Nigeria in 2022.
6. The National assembly should ensure transparency in the implementation of the constituency projects. The relevant agencies should ensure that those found guilty are brought to book.
7. With the election fast approaching, the judiciary should ensure more than ever to deliver justice.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) developed by theTransparency International (TI) in 1995 is an annual ranking of countries on the prevalence of corruption within each country, based upon surveys by experts and business executives. It’s aims is to serve as a basis for critical reflection on tangible ways to strengthen the fight against corruption.

PRNigeria

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