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Ghana, other African countries lobbying companies to leave Nigeria —Adebayo, Industry Minister

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Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, revealed yesterday that many African countries were lobbying companies operating in Nigeria to leave and come to them.

Appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, the minister, who led other agencies under the Ministry to the committee to respond to queries from the Auditor General for the Federation, said one of such countries was Ghana.

He said those countries had raised the capital allowances of the companies, stressing that those  still left behind were attracted by Nigeria’s huge population.

He, however, said the federal government was making efforts to support investments.

“Our duty is to support investment growth in Nigeria. It is public knowledge that getting these investments is increasingly becoming difficult today,” he said.

In his remarks, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Account, Wole Oke, said the country is bleeding economically, decrying that several companies are evading taxes.

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“Nigeria is bleeding. We are borrowing daily to finance our budget and the Minister of Finance has said the reason we are borrowing is the fact that we are not collecting the revenue we are supposed to collect.

“The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has issued some instruments which earned companies tax breaks and tax holiday. But this scheme has been abused by the companies.

“When some of these companies appeared before this committee, we noticed from their presentation elements of tax invasion. For example, China Habour got a waiver of N5 billion to import nails and wire nets.

”In my village, we have a company that manufactures nails, but cost of manufacturing nails locally is higher than those imported. So, how do we encourage local production?

“The same company evaded some of the schemes of government and they are seeking to have pioneer status. We also have a company that has been existing in Nigeria since 1979 and has never paid one Kobo to the government. ALSCON has been in operation and has not paid a single Kobo to government’s coffers.

“There is a company that put up a show and usurped the function of NEPZA who are supposed to remit it’s operating surplus. But it’s licensees have undermined the agency.

“Millions of dollars that are supposed to go into NEPZA’a coffees are going into private pockets. That is why we are trying to find out if there is need to review existing laws because the Parliament will not allow the country to continue to bleed.

“MTN gave us certificate of acceptance worth N2.6 trillion and claimed to be the highest tax payers in the country. We are asking them to provide us evidence of how they got those certificates. That is where we are right now.

“Airtel, 9 Mobile are running away. But the law will catch up with them. We are aware that they have spent so much on their investment and so don’t want to be party to dragging their names in the mud. But they must come before parliament to defend the capital allowances they have collected,” he said.

Speaking on the operations of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, Oke said the payments many companies claimed to have made could not be seen.

“Some licensees claimed to have made payment which we cannot see. For example, AGIP claimed it has paid millions of dollars to you. I checked the records of your submission and cannot find even one million dollars tracable to a single company.

“They also filed for capital allowance with FIRS and FIRS has given effect to that without the certificate of acceptance issued by the Ministry of Industry. We have asked for evidence of exception and there is none. We have also asked for a list of the assets they imported that qualified and inspected which the FIRS acted on,” he said.

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NNPC to inject fresh N1tn into road projects

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited is to provide additional N1tn for road projects in Nigeria, NNPC Group Chief Executive, Mele Kyari, has said.

Kyari, in a video clip seen in Abuja, disclosed this on Thursday during a tour of the ongoing construction work on the Agbara-Badagry road, Lagos.

He said the N1tn would come through the Federal Government road infrastructure tax credit scheme.

He said, “We are very happy about the state of this road development. We are very happy with this intervention across the country not just in this place. We are doing 1,800km across the country. We are taking another set of over N1tn of investments in road infrastructure in the country.

“We believe that this tax credit system which Mr. President has put in place is the game changer for our country.

“We believe that in the next 24 months, there will be massive change to the entire road network in this country and this is why the NNPC is your company and working for all of us.

“We think that it is the best way to intervene and bring up our infrastructure. We are adding another set of cash, we have not reached the final numbers, but I know it is over N1tn.”

According to a Punch report, the NNPC in the third quarter of 2021 announced its intention to provide funds for the reconstruction of selected road projects in order to ease the movement of petroleum products.

This was executed under the tax credit scheme that was funded by the NNPC through the Federal Inland Revenue Service in accordance with the President’s executive order 007.

The construction exercise was under the management of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, as the NNPC provided funds for the construction of 1,804.6km of roads at a cost of N621,24bn.

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Military under pressure to compromise elections, says CDS Irabor

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Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has disclosed that the security agencies and the military have been under pressure to compromise general elections through financial inducement.

He however assured Nigerians that the military would maintain neutrality in the whole electoral process.

He spoke at the weekly ministerial press briefing on Thursday in Abuja and gave updates on strides made by the military in the fight against insurgency, terrorism and banditry.

He stated that military personnel were being trained to follow the codified rules of engagement before, during and after the elections.

The CDS disclosed that over 300,000 persons had been freed from the hands of abductors since 2016 while refugees who fled the North-East owing to insurgency were already returning.

General Irabor who admitted there were few sabotaurs within the military asserted that they had not succeeded.

He debunked a recent allegation by an international news media which accused the military of carrying out over 10,000 illegal abortions on female victims of the war in the North-East.

According to him, it is impossible for the military to have been engaged in a planned abortion programme since 2013 and as the military commander in charge of Operation Lafia Dole between 2016 and 2017, he never heard of any such thing.

The CDS also revisited the alleged Lekki tollgate massacre in 2020, insisting that the Nigerian military is not interested in killing its own people, but more concerned about protecting the citizens.

He added that the efforts of the military in the fight against crude oil theft had been yielding positive results with the increase in the crude oil production of 1.6 million barrels per day.

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FG recovers N120bn from crime proceeds —Lai Mohammed

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Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has said it had realised at least N120 billion as proceeds from criminal financial operations since the bill on Proceeds of Crime Recovery Management was signed into law earlier this year by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the disclosure at a news briefing where Minister of Environment presented the scorecard of the ministry under the Buhari administration in Abuja, yesterday.

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Mohammed said:  “I have an update on the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act (POCA), 2022. In line with the new law, all relevant agencies of government have now opened ‘Confiscated and Forfeiture Properties Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

“I can confirm that so far, the Federal Government has realised over N120 billion, among other currencies, from POCA. This money will be used to fund the completion of ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the country such as the Second Niger Bridge as well as Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kano Expressways. We will continue to update you on this,” he added.

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