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Oyo State seeks to join Rivers in VAT suit 

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Oyo State government has sought to join the River State Government in a suit instituted by the latter asking the court to grant the state the power to take over the collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from the Federal Government.

The suit, filed by the Attorney-General of Oyo State, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, is seeking an order of the appellate court to enable Oyo State to join the suit as an interested party.

In the suit, the Oyo State government is seeking two orders, namely: an order of the court joining the Attorney-General of Oyo State as a respondent on the appeal with suit number FHC/PH/CS/149/2020 and appeal number CA/PH/282/2021, and any other order the court may deem fit.

According to the Attorney-General of Oyo State, the government of Oyo State was unaware of the suit between the Attorney-General of Rivers State and the Federal Inland Revenue Service at the Federal High Court until the judgment was delivered.

Other grounds upon which the application was based include that the decision of the appellate court will affect the collection of VAT by the government of Oyo State, being one of the states which the judgment of the lower court recognised as entitled to collect VAT within its territorial jurisdiction.

Oyo State government also indicated that the applicant (Attorney-General of the state) “represents the interest of the Oyo State government, whose interest in the collection of Value Added Tax within Oyo State will be impacted one way or another by any judgment delivered by this  Court in this Appeal.”

The Oyo State government also said, “The applicant is a necessary party to this suit being a party who will be bound by the judgment of this court in this appeal.

“The interests of the applicant and that of the respondent, in this case, are similar, being states within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

In a 12-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, which was filed by the Director of Civil Litigation in the chambers of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Ministry of Justice, Oyo State, Olatunji Thomas, the Oyo State government said that it would be in the interest of justice that the court should grant the application.

It stated that the state, being one of the 36 states of Nigeria, it would be affected by the decision of the appellate court, adding that joining the state to the suit already instituted by Rivers State would help to avoid multiplicity of suits by the states against the Federal government.

In a motion on notice also attached to the proceedings already filed before the court, Oyo State said it relied on eight grounds.

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Oil price falls to $95 a barrel over plans to restore Iran nuclear deal

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Oil prices plunged on Tuesday amid a considerable progression in restoring Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, fell $1.3 percent to $95.31 a barrel.  

US West Texas Intermediate, on the other hand, fell $1.2 percent to $89.51. 

The agreement is expected to clear the way for Iran to boost its crude exports in a tight market.

The Iran nuclear agreement, formally known as the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA), is a landmark accord reached between Iran and a group of world powers known as the P5+1 – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany, in July 2015. 

Under its terms, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities and open its facilities to more extensive international inspections in return for the relaxing of economic sanctions. 

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In 2018, Donald Trump, former US president, pulled out of the nuclear agreement but recently efforts were renewed to restore the deal.

On Monday, the European Union put forward a “final” text to revive the deal. 

“What can be negotiated has been negotiated, and it’s now in a final text,” Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, said in a tweet on Monday after the talks concluded and negotiators headed back to their nations’ capitals for consultations.

“I’m not sure traders are particularly hopeful considering how long it’s taken to get to this point and with there still reportedly being points of contention,” Craig Erlam of brokerage OANDA told Reuters. 

In Nigeria, an embattled oil sector has continued to experience dwindled crude oil production, which steadily dropped in July to an average of 1.08 million barrels per day (bpd). 

Oil theft and diminishing investments are issues the sector has to contend with. 

On Monday, Mele Kyari, group chief executive officer (GCEO), NNPC Limited, said Nigeria loses $1.9 billion monthly to crude oil theft.

The Cable

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FG moves to stop $1.9bn monthly loss to oil theft

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The Federal Government has stepped up moves to halt oil theft, costing Nigeria a monthly loss of $1.9bn, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has said.

He said Nigeria was not meeting its production quota at the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, due to oil theft.

Sylva, who led a Federal Government delegation on anti-oil theft to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, said the team was in Asaba to seek the support and buy-in of the state government on measures to be adopted to check oil-theft in the country.

He said, “As a country, we cannot sustain this kind of theft perpetually, oil theft has become a national emergency, especially as the nation has not been able to meet its OPEC production quota.

“Our production has dropped drastically to very unsustainable levels. So, we have decided to take the bull by the horn by putting some structures in place and those structures cannot function effectively without the collaboration of the state government.”

On his part, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, who is coordinating the security intervention against oil theft, said security agencies had been dealing with issues of illegal refineries and oil bunkering across the Niger Delta in the last five months.

Irabor advocated the engagement of indigenes and host communities in the fight against the criminal activity.

Mele Kyari, who was also part of the delegation, lamented that Nigeria was currently losing about $2 billion monthly to the activities of oil vandals, with its attendant effect on environmental degradation.

Kyari said, “As a country, we hardly meet our OPEC production quantum of 1.99 million barrels per day with our current production level of 1.4 million barrels per day, which is currently being threatened by the activities of these economic saboteurs.

“This has done extensive damage to the environment and losing 1.9 billion dollars every month is colossal, considering the nature of the global economy at the moment.”

He held that the team needed the support and buy-in of Delta State government “because stopping this oil theft requires the concerted efforts of the Federal, State Governments, oil companies and security agencies”.

In his remarks, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa advocated a review of surveillance contracts on oil facilities to involve host communities in order to check the high rate of oil theft in the country.

Okowa insisted that reviewing oil surveillance contracts based on performance of the contractors and engagement of host communities would ensure effectiveness in securing the nation’s oil and gas assets.

While admitting that the challenge of oil-theft was huge, given the level it had assumed, the governor expressed joy with the steps being taken by the authorities to curb the menace.

He said: “I am glad that we are discussing this hydra-headed issue which impacts directly on our economy and the environment.

“It impacts on the health of the people and sustainability of the environment and I am glad that we are taking some steps because there are so many issues that led us to this.

“We went through situations where gaps where created between host communities and oil companies, and unfortunately criminality set in.

“It has gone so bad but we are doing our best as a state. I am also glad about this collaboration,’’ pointing out that it was often difficult to secure the facilities, especially when the persons given the contracts did not have adequate information on the environment or not have the buy-in of host communities.

“We know that the impact of the nefarious activities on the health of the people cannot be immediately ascertained, and this collaboration is, therefore, very imperative.

“Any measure that will deliberately reduce the level of oil thefts is definitely worth supporting, and as a state government, we pledge our continued support.

“Why investment of the communities is needed is because there are some parts of the creeks that cannot be accessed by the surveillance contractor. Therefore, surveillance contracts should not be such that communities are not involved.

“The surveillance contracts should be tied to performance such that when there are oil thefts you terminate the contract and it is always good that communities are involved because they know the environment better”.

The governor berated oil companies for not keeping faith with their Memorandum of Understanding, MOUs, thereby making the stakeholders to lose confidence in the system.

He explained that when oil companies failed to sign or implement MoUs, “it becomes very difficult for the state government to mediate when there are issues.

“The security agencies must heighten their operations and they need to be resourced to enable them to also increase their level of surveillance and for this to succeed, there must be sincerity on the part of all stakeholders.

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We are not auctioning 7,000 cars – Customs

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has dismissed a report that it is planning a special auction of over 7,000 cars.

The Public Relations Officer of Customs, Deputy Comptroller Timi Bomodi, made this known in a statement signed on behalf of the Comptroller General of Customs in Abuja.

He urged Nigerians to always refer to the electronic auction (e-auction) platform (https://app.trade.gov.ng/eauction/) for authentic information concerning auction.

According to him, the e-auction remains the only authentic means of auctioning goods to members of the public.

“Auctions are periodic and advertised in advance on our website to avail the public the opportunity of selecting and bidding for items of their choice.

“It will be recalled that the service deployed the e-auction platform in July 2017 to improve efficiency in revenue generation to the federal government.

“It was also deployed to provide equal opportunities to all Nigerians in the seamless disposal of seized and condemned, and overtime and abandoned cargoes.

“Since its implementation, the e-auction has lived up to expectations by guaranteeing transparency and integrity in the auctioning process,” Bomodi said.

The spokesperson said that the requirements to take part in the e-auction bidding process by interested members of the public were clear.

He said that applicants must process valid Tax Identification Number (TIN), issued by Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), with an active e-mail account.

Bomodi added that the conditions and terms of auction must be carefully considered by an interested person before acceptance.

Bomodi further said an applicant must have an authentic and nationally accepted means of identification.

He explained that those means of identification include international passport, driver’s licence, national identity card or voter card.

He referred the public to the service’s e-auction portal at https://app.trade.gov.ng/eauction/ for further guidelines.

Bomodi used the opportunity to call on owners of vehicles at the various ports to avail themselves of the VIN-Valuation protocols to clear them.

He said the clearance procedure had been simplified, automated and made more user-friendly.

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