8—VANGUARD, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2018 :Vanguard News :@vanguardnews :@vanguardnews NEWS HOTLINES: 08052867023, 08052867058 Nigerian UK property owners crash VAIDS phone lines •Request tax amnesty deadline extension By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief A B U J A — NIGERIANS, who own property in the United Kingdom, Friday, crashed Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme, VAIDS, hotlines of the Federal Ministry of Finance with their incessant calls. Highly placed source confirmed the development, yesterday. The level of calls, he said, might be in connection with the new UK regulation with regard to Unexplained Wealth Orders, UWOs. “The confidential hotlines that were provided to enable the booking of appointments had received massive calls and frantic requests from tax payers in the last 72 hours, asking for extension of time to complete their VAIDS declaration forms,” the source said. The UK Government had, last week, introduced a new law that requires foreign owners of property in the country to explain the source of their funds or risk forfeiting them to the government. The source said the UK government orders have created anxiety among Nigerians at home and abroad who own property in that country. According to the new law, the UWOs can be obtained for any property or combination of property valued at just £50,000 (about N25 million) or more, for which the owner is unable to explain legal source of funds. The source disclosed that data already in the possession of the VAIDS Office in the Federal Ministry of Finance revealed that many Nigerians who own property in the UK have under-paid their taxes before transferring funds overseas to buy them. “Most of the calls received are from high net worth individuals, including company executives, bankers and even a governor. All seem to be in panic over the prospect of losing their property,” he said. It was learned that some of the affected Nigerian investors in UK stormed the ministry last Friday without appointments, requesting to see the Minister or the Head of the VAIDS Office. The source explained: “Most of the enquiries are about seeking assurance from the Federal Government that the VAIDs programme can protect them from potential asset forfeiture to the UK government. Others requested to know if their names had appeared on the lists from overseas.” Vanguard gathered that the data sharing agreements between Nigeria and many countries where Nigerians are suspected to have invested stolen public funds, have unsettled corrupt politicians and even private sector operators. Consequent upon the agreement, sources said those who fail to key into the VAIDS, thinking that their investments were hidden, would be shocked at the revelations to be made by the Federal Government at the end of next month when the amnesty will end. PENSION VERIFICATION: Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor (left) speaking to pensioners at the on-going second phase of pension verification for NITEL/MTE in Kano State, yesterday. Photo: NAN. Benue killings: We can’t continue to promote sycophancy, mediocrity —Ortom •Says truth suppressed too long By Johnbosco Agbakwuru ABUJA — GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State has vowed to protect the people of the state in line with the oath of office he swore to always tell the truth. The governor regretted that those who had the responsibility to stop the killings of innocent citizens by suspected herdsmen have refused to live up to their responsibility and decided to insult him for condemning the atrocity. According to him, the era of promoting sycophancy and mediocrity is over. Speaking to newsmen, weekend, Ortom said though some people had planned to attack him, he had decided to offer himself like a sacrificial lamb to ensure that the truth that had long been suppressed prevails in the country. He said: “The Bible says ‘you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.’ In Nigeria today, we have no business being where we are. We would have been far ahead of where we are today. It is just that for a long time, we have suppressed the truth. “But the truth is that I have decided to offer myself. If it will require me to pay the supreme sacrifice for saying the truth, I am ready to do it because the time has come that we must stop promoting sycophancy and mediocrity. “We must promote the truth. We must respect the constitution and the rule of law. The constitution and the law of our land are the only things that can guide us to greater heights. “They are the only things that can lead us to where we want to be, the only thing that can promote and project us to rank with other countries that are doing well. “Was it not just yesterday we said ‘Ghana must go?’ Why is it that on West African soil today, the whole world is turning their attention, whether in investment or whatever? Ghana has become a reference point against Nigeria.” The governor, who said some people would have killed him but for the intervention of the media, stated that he had suspended every activity concerning the 2019 elections to concentrate on the resolution of the killings of his people by the marauding herdsmen. He also lamented that he was being persecuted and ridiculed by those with the constitutional right to provide security to the people, even as he reiterated his faith in God in the midst of the turbulence and his efforts to protect and defend his people. “Today, for the persecution that I am going through, for doing what is right then, I have become a target. For saying that ‘look, enough is enough, stone age laws should be repealed, even if they were laws or if they were policies, we should discard them because they will not help us. “The truth is that I felt so sad when the Minister of Defence and followed by the IG (Inspector-General) of Police) were acting the script of Miyetti Allah, instead of doing their jobs that they are collecting tax payers money for every month." Reps probe $5bn under remittance by CBN By Emman Ovuakporie ABUJA—THE House of Representatives adhoc committee constituted to probe the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for alleged under remittance of over $5 billion into the federation account began work,weekend. The committee, chaired by Chairman, House Committee on Customs, James Faleke, has fashioned out a work plan and other necessary modalities necessary for the investigative hearing. The committee was constituted following the adoption of a motion promoted by Ayo Omidiran (APC, Osun ), alleging that the CBN was guilty of not disclosing the true state of the financial inflows into the federation account on a monthly basis. She also indicted the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for not reporting the alleged infractions by the CBN. She said: “The CBN takes advantage of this all important function of warehousing funds for the three tiers of government and preparation of the federation account statement to manipulate the system by opening various accounts not known to the three tiers of government where funds are remitted, hidden, diverted and spent without authorisation." C’ttee probes sugar import waiver abuse In a related development, the House of Representatives adhoc committee investigating the alleged abuse of import duty waivers granted sugar companies has resolved to summon the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, and other stakeholders to shed light on how firms granted waivers by the Federal Government shortchanged the government of billions of Naira in revenue. Chairman of the adhoc committee, Olasupo Abiodun Adeola, disclosed this to journalists, weekend, in Abuja. Olasupo said the committee’s assignment was to determine the compliance by local sugar companies with the waiver granted them to import raw sugar into the country under a scheme to promote backward integration and ensure local sugar production meets demand to reducing Nigeria’s dependence on imported sugar. Herdsmen attacks: Lawyers tackle Buhari, accuse him of shielding culprits By Ikechukwu Nnochiri ABUJA—A group of senior legal practitioners, under the aegis of Lawyers Alert, yesterday, expressed worry over what it described as President Muhammadu Buhari’s nonresponsiveness to wanton killings and destruction of properties by marauding herdsmen. The group, in a statement signed by its President, Mr. Rommy Mom, said it was perturbed that President Buhari had yet to visit Benue State and other areas pillaged by herdsmen. It maintained that President Buhari has stayed “largely quiet” on the increasing cases of attacks by armed herdsmen, saying the “implication of what is happening in Benue State is the apparent notion that herdsmen are somehow above the law.” The lawyers stated: “While these attacks did not begin with Buhari’s administration, the killings appear to have escalated dramatically under Buhari’s watch. “Rather than comprehensively addressing the issue and protecting citizens’ right to life, the Buhari administration is exhibiting the same helplessness Nigerians experienced with the Jonathan administration’s handling of the Boko Haram threat. “For instance, Jonathan chose not to visit Borno even as Boko Haram ruthlessly plundered its way across most parts of the north and gradually earned a reputation as the most vicious terror group in the world. By the same token, President Buhari is yet to visit especially Benue, the state most pillaged by herdsmen. “In fact, a recent state visit that took him to neighbouring Nasarawa State on February 6, 2018, somehow neglected to include a stopover in Benue as part of the itinerary.”
VANGUARD, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2018—9 :Vanguard News :@vanguardnews :@vanguardnews NEWS HOTLINES: 08052867023, 08052867058 2019: FG'll not divert capital project funds for election —Adeosun •Projects 3.5% economic growth in 2018 THE Federal Government’s capital budget would be strictly deployed to fund infrastructural projects across the country, particularly the completion of ongoing projects, Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has said. Adeosun, who also projected 3.5 per cent economic growth for 2018, said government would retain the capital budget despite forthcoming elections in the country. The minister made this known on Friday in Abuja while representing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at a lecture delivered to National Defence College, NDC, Course 26 participants. Responding to an enquiry by a member of the NDC Course 26 on the use of the capital budget for the general elections, Mrs. Adeosun maintained that the current administration would not engage in the diversion of capital project funds for the forthcoming elections. She said: “The administration remains committed to infrastructure spending at the high levels of the past two years and the completion of major ongoing projects.” She further reiterated the commitment of the administration to its programme of transformation, and jobs and wealth creation across the country. Earlier at the National Defence College, the finance minister had delivered the Vice President’s lecture to the Course 26 participants entitled, “Economic Dimensions of National Security: The Nigerian Experience.” In the speech, Vice President Osinbajo said improvement in economic security was vital to Nigeria’s economic growth, human security improvement, and realisation of national defence and security requirements. He assured that the Federal Government would continue to play a key role in ensuring national cohesion by promoting social inclusion as a key state objective. He said: “Economic development is a springboard for improved national security because it comes with growth which enables more resources for a growing population. “National economic development means that a country can meet its national security needs without depending on outsiders for the provision of its defence and security needs. Depending on food and energy imports makes a nation vulnerable to external pressure,” said the vice president, who chairs the Economic Management Team, EMT, of the government." On the Social Investment Programme, Osinbajo revealed that about 200,000 N-Power jobs had been created under the programme while 250 million meals had been served under the Home Grown School Feeding Programme. VISIT: From left, Laure Beaufils, British Deputy High Commissioner; Ade Bajomo, Executive Director, IT and Operations, Access Bank Plc; Paul Arkwright, British High Commissioner; Herbert Wigwe, GMD/CEO, Access Bank Plc; Titi Osuntoki, Executive Director, Business Banking, Access Bank Plc, and Richard Ough, Team Leader and Senior Economist, Department for International Development, during a visit of British High Commissioner to Access Bank head office in Lagos, weekend. FG resumes prosecution of Boko Haram suspects A BUJA—THE Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has ordered the resumption of prosecution of suspected Boko Haram insurgents detained in various locations of the country. Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the AGF, Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, who disclosed this in a statement, yesterday, said the second phase of the trial would commence at Kainji detention facility in Niger State today. According to him, the resumption of trial arose from the conclusion of investigation of over 1000 suspects as ordered by the court during its proceedings of October 2017 by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. He explained that it was expected that suspects with prima facie cases would be prosecuted, while others without it would have applications made for their discharge. He said those discharged would undergo a process of deradicalization from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, before their final release to their families. This exercise, which is a concerted effort of Federal Ministry of Justice and Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA. kicked off in Kainji, Niger State on Monday, October 9, 2017. Four judges were allocated to four dedicated courts to handle the trials located in a military facility in Kainji, while defence counsel were provided for those suspects without capacity to hire private legal practitioners to defend them. Unlike the first phase, which was restricted, Isah said this phase was opened with some civil society groups, including human rights organisation and journalists, invited to witness the proceedings. He said already, about 82 Boko Haram detainees have so far benefited from the Federal Government’s window to plead guilty to secure low jail terms or unconditional release, which is part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s concerted effort to boost its human right records and decongest the nation’s prisons. Passage of 2018 budget will be stormy — Source By Henry Umoru A BUJA—FOUR months after President Muhammudu Buhari presented before a joint session of the National Assembly a budget proposal of N8.612 trillion for the 2018 fiscal year, strong indications have emerged that its passage by lawmakers will be stormy. It was gathered that lawmakers are already divided on whether the budget should be returned to the executive or panelbeaten and just passed, even as many are aggrieved that the implementation of 2017 budget is so poor and feared that it would affect the approval of 2018 budget. A source told Vanguard ,yesterday, that the passage of the budget forms a major problem for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, especially on how to carry everyone on board as well as first convince senators elected on the platform of the party. This is because of the frosty relation between the senators and the party. There is also the problem of how to convince the opposition senators in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. A very senior party member and a principal officer of the National Assembly, who spoke with Vanguard on condition of anonymity simply said: “We are having serious problem in our party, the leadership is far from party members, especially the lawmakers. "You can see that it took the party a very long time before it decided to meet with us at the National Assembly, there is no synergy, there is no avenue for us to discuss issues before they are brought to the National Assembly. ‘’There is no national caucus meeting, our major problem now is how we can convince our colleagues to pass the 2018 Appropriation bill.” PTAD shuns SGF, NASS resolution to recall disengaged directors THERE is palpable fear and disquiet at the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, as Executive Secretary of the agency, Sharon Ikeazor, has shunned all entreaties and directives from Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and the Senate to recall five sacked directors, following their alleged irregular appointments. The affected directors are Godson Ukpevo, who until his disengagement was in charge of Civil Service Pension Department; Uloma Uruakpa (Customs, Immigrations and Prisons Pension Department); Taiwo Ogundipe 9,973 senior police officers promoted in 2017 ABUJA—THE Police Service Commission, PSC, said it promoted 9,973 police officers in 2017. Chairman of the commission, Mike Okiro, made the disclosure in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, yesterday. He said two commissioners of police and 13 deputy commissioners of police were promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspectors- General of Police and commissioners respectively within the period under review. The chairman said 41 Assistant Commissioners of Police and 54 chief superintendent of police were also elevated to deputy commissioners of police and assistant commissioner respectively. He said the period under review also witnessed the elevation of 52 superintendents of police and 513 deputy superintendents of police to the rank of chief superintendents and superintendents. According to Mr. Okiro, other categories of officers promoted are: 3,365 assistant superintendents of police and 5,933 inspectors to the rank of deputy superintendents and assistant superintendents respectively. On discipline, he said 118 cases were received, 42 treated while 76 appeals and petitions were still pending. Mr. Okiro said under his administration, officers were promoted to the next rank when they are due. (Parastatals Pension Department); Atiku Saleh (Police Pension Department), and Roz Ben-Okagbue (Pension Support Service Department). Trouble started when in March, 2017, the Executive Secretary sought the approval of Minister of Finance for the immediate implementation of recommendations of the staff audit verification report of February, 2017, conducted by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, OHCSF. Based on that report, the agency got to know that the employment of the five directors three years after, were irregular, and contravened section 020205(a) of the Public Service Rules(PSRs). The Economic Confidential gathered that based on the report, the directors were sacked and asked to refund salaries and emoluments earned within the period of engagement and pay same to Federal Government treasury, as contained in the personnel records audit by the Auditor General of the Federation, OAGF, dated July 15, 2015. Dissatisfied with this treatment by PTAD, the directors petitioned the Minister of Finance, appealing for reinstatement.