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.
We will restore peace, stability before leaving office, Buhari vows
President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration will not relent in its quest to restore peace and stability in the country.
Buhari said this on Monday during the 58th anniversary of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) in Kano.
He said his administration’s investment in the air force had helped to “turn the tide” against terrorists.
He promised that he would continue to give necessary and sufficient support to the NAF in the battle against insecurity from non-state actors.
“The huge investment in the Nigeria Air Force has helped to turn the tide against terrorist and non-state actors in our nation,” he said.
“In furtherance of our drive to continue to do more to support the air force. Rest assured that our government is willing to do even more to ensure the provision of requisite support and the encouragement to overcome various security challenges.
“This government will not rest until peace and stability is fully restored in the nation. I, therefore, urge you all to remain steadfast, committed and resolute.
States lose battle over LG funds’ management
The 36 Governors lost on Monday in their opposition to Federal Government’s efforts to monitor their handling of Local governments’ funds.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed a suit filed to that effect by the 36 states, through their Attorneys General and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
The States, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/563/2019, challenged the legality of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Guidelines, which came into effect on June 1, 2019.
The NFIU 2019 guidelines required among others, that the States/Local Governments Joint Accounts should be used only for receiving funds and subsequently transferring them to Local government accounts only.
The NFIU claimed that the guidelines, which also limit daily cash withdrawal from the State/LG joint account to N500,000 are intended to reduce “crime vulnerabilities created by cash withdrawal from local government funds throughout Nigeria effective from June 1, 2019.”
Listed as defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the NFIU and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE).
They argued among others that the NFIU guidelines: known as “the NFIU Enforcement and Guidelines to Reduce Crime Vulnerabilities Crafted by Cash Withdrawal From Local Government Funds Throughout Nigeria,” particularly provisions 1 to 6 and the penalties prescribed are ultra vires the power of the NFIU under Sections 3 (1) and 23(2) (a) of the Nigerian Financial Intelligent Unit Act, 2018 and therefore unconstitutional.
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In the judgement on Monday, Justice Ekwo held that he is unable to see where the guidelines contradict the provisions of sections 7(1), (6) (a) and (b) of the Constitution.
The judge added that the guidelines also did not conflict with the provision of Section 162(6) of the Constitution, which creates the State Joint Local Government Account, into which allocations to the Local Government Councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the government of the state are paid.
He said that the guidelines did not contradict Section 162(8) of the constitution which prescribed that the amount standing to the credit of the local government council of the state shall be distributed among the local government councils of that state on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of the state.
Justice Ekwo added that the provisions of the NFIU guidelines also do not contradict the provisions of the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution which prescribes the functions of a Local Government Council.
Noting that “ duty of the court is limited to expounding the law and not expanding it,” the judge said: “On the whole, I see the provisions of the guidelines of the 2nd defendant as seeking to direct the monitoring of accounts, transfers and any other means of payment or transfer of funds of local government councils as provided for in Section 3 (1) (r) of the Act of the NFIU.
“It only limits cash withdrawal made from any Local Government Account anywhere in the country to amount not exceeding N500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) per day.
“Any amount higher than that can be done using other methods of banking transaction save cash.
“Unless it can be shown that there is any provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which these provisions of the 2nd defendant’s guidelines have contradicted or conflicted directly and practically, then the issue of unconstitutionality cannot be said to arise.”
Justice Ekwo said he found that there was no provision in the NFIU’s guidelines that has contravened the provisions of Sections 7(1), (6) (a) and (b), 162 (6), (7) and (8), and the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“I also find that the case of the plaintiffs has not been established and I so hold.
“I find, in the end, that the case of the plaintiffs lacks merit and ought to be dismissed and it is hereby dismissed,” the judge said.
Earlier, Justice Ekwo struck out the name of the NGF as a co-plaintiff in the suit on the grounds that it lacked the locus standi to file the suit.
Falana to Minister of Finance: You lack powers to suspend AGF
Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has told the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, that she lacks the power to suspend the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over allegations of fraud.
Falana spoke amid allegations Idris was under probe for N80 billion fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
He said it was only President Muhammadu Buhari that has such powers to suspend the AGF.
He said: “In exercise of his powers under section 171 of the Constitution, President Buhari appointed Ahmed Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation on June 25, 2015. Upon the expiration of 4-year tenure, Mr Idris was reappointed as the Accountant-General of the Federation by the President on June 19, 2019.
“It is submitted that by the combined effect of section 320 of the Constitution and section 11 of the Interpretation Act, it is the exclusive constitutional responsibility of President Buhari to suspend Mr Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation.
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“Specifically, section 11(1) (b) of the Interpretation Act provides that ‘Where an enactment confers a power to appoint a person either to an office or to exercise any functions, whether for a specified period or not, the power includes the power to remove or suspend him.’
“From the foregoing, it is undoubtedly clear that it is only the President who appointed Mr Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation and reappointed him to the office that is constitutionally empowered to suspend him or interdict him pending his investigation and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“I believe that the Minister of Finance knows or ought to know that she lacks the power to suspend Mr Idris from duty since did not appoint or reappoint him as the Accountant-General of the Federation.
“It is hoped that the Federal Government has not deliberately played into the hands of Mr Idris to provide a legal escape route for him as he may soon challenge his suspension in the National Industrial Court. Since the action of the Minister is illegal and unconstitutional Mr Idris will win the case and an order will be made for his reinstatement.
“We are therefore compelled to call on President Buhari to suspend Mr Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation until further notice under section 11(1)(b) of the Interpretation Act. In the same vein, the President should appoint the Acting Accountant-General of the Federation in line with the law since the Finance Minister lacks the vires to make the appointment.”
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