Tinubu Govt Set to Begin Collection of Taxes from Market Traders, Informal Sector; Anambra Student Denies JAMB’s Accusations of Result Forgery | 5 Things That Should Matter Today

  • Tinubu Govt Set to Begin Collection of Taxes from Market Traders, Informal Sector
  • Anambra Student Denies JAMB’s Accusations of Result Forgery
  • EU Report Admitted as Exhibit in Presidential Election Petition Court
  • Hearing Delayed in Seun Kuti Assault Case as Chief Magistrate is on Leave
  • Yerima Commends President Tinubu’s Courage in Quick Removal of Fuel Subsidy

Across Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, these are the five top Nigerian news stories you shouldn’t miss

Tinubu Govt Set to Begin Collection of Taxes from Market Traders, Informal Sector

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration has introduced a new initiative, known as the Value Added Tax (VAT) Direct Initiative, aimed at enhancing tax collection from the informal sector. The announcement was made by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) through their official Twitter handle on Monday.

In collaboration with the Market Traders Association of Nigeria (MATAN), the FIRS will work to facilitate the collection and remittance of VAT from their members, particularly those operating in the informal sector. This strategic partnership aims to raise awareness about VAT collection and remittance within the marketplace and informal sector, while also simplifying the payment and remittance processes through the utilization of a purpose-built digital platform.

FIRS highlighted the significant benefits of this collaboration, stating, “This will also boost VAT revenue generation for the three tiers of government, leading to increased funds for infrastructure development and social amenities.”

Recent data from the National Bureau indicates that Nigeria recorded N1.18 trillion in VAT and company income tax collection during the first quarter of 2023. However, the Debt Management Office has cautioned that Nigeria needs to expand its tax net to sustain its growing debt burden, which currently stands at approximately N49.85 trillion.

Anambra Student Denies JAMB’s Accusations of Result Forgery

Ejikeme Mmesoma, a candidate in the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) from Anambra State, has refuted the allegations made by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) that she forged her result.

In a viral video released by Mmesoma, she shared her side of the story, explaining that she obtained her result directly from the JAMB portal and was shocked to hear accusations of forgery.

“I printed the result from the JAMB portal,” she stated. “I don’t understand why they are claiming that I forged my result. I am traumatized by being accused of forging my own result. I am not capable of such an act.”

On Sunday, JAMB released a statement accusing Mmesoma of “manipulating” her result in this year’s examination.

According to the Board’s spokesperson, Fabian Benjamin, “Miss Ejikeme Joy Mmesoma had actually scored 249 and not 362 as she claimed. She manipulated her UTME result to deceive the public and fraudulently obtain scholarships and other recognitions.”

JAMB also announced that Mmesoma’s original result would be withdrawn, as it has discovered several candidates parading fake results through the use of fraudulent software packages.

It is worth noting that Mmesoma had been awarded a N3 million scholarship by Innocent Chukwuma, the founder of Innoson Motors.

In response, Mmesoma emphasized her track record as a diligent student, highlighting her consistently excellent academic performance from nursery school to secondary school. She also revealed that she scored 300 in her Common Entrance examination.

Expressing disappointment, Mmesoma criticized JAMB for prematurely announcing her alleged forgery before the conclusion of the Department of State Services’ investigation.

Meanwhile, the Anambra State Government has formed a Committee of Inquiry to investigate the matter. Nkechinyere Umeh, who achieved the highest score of 360 in the UTME, is being celebrated by the state government, while security agencies are looking into the allegations of result falsification against Ejikeme Mmesoma, who was previously acclaimed on social media as having achieved the highest score.

The controversy surrounding Mmesoma’s UTME result remains unresolved, with conflicting claims from JAMB and the candidate herself. The Anambra State Government’s Committee of Inquiry aims to shed light on the situation and provide a clearer understanding of the matter.

EU Report Admitted as Exhibit in Presidential Election Petition Court

The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) made a significant development on Monday as it admitted the final report of the European Union Election Observer Mission, which criticized the conduct and outcome of the 2023 presidential election that resulted in the victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and others.

Former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, tendered the report as evidence, despite strong objections from President Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to the European Union Election Observer Mission report, the presidential election lacked credibility, fairness, and transparency in the manner in which it was conducted by INEC.

The report, presented through INEC’s sole witness and Director of Information Technology (IT), Lawrence Bayode, revealed that only 31 percent of the presidential election results were uploaded into INEC’s result viewing portal.

During the witness’s testimony, Bayode admitted that INEC did not have an electronic collation system for election results, indicating that the presidential election results were manually collated by the presiding officers of the electoral body.

Under cross-examination by Atiku Abubakar’s lead counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), the witness acknowledged that not all the presidential election results were uploaded into INEC’s results viewing center as of March 1, 2023, when Tinubu was declared the winner.

While the witness cited a technical glitch affecting the uploading of the results, he admitted under cross-examination that INEC did not report such a glitch to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Responding to questions from Wole Olanipekun (SAN), lead Counsel to President Tinubu, the witness stated that Form EC8A served as the basis for the election results and that data and network services were necessary for the upload of images captured by the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machine.

The witness further emphasized that images captured on BVAS, whether transmitted electronically or manually, would not compromise the integrity of the election, particularly when the results entered into Form EC8As were announced in the presence of party agents.

During cross-examination by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), lead counsel to the APC, the witness admitted that glitches were experienced on the election day but affirmed that they did not affect the final results and candidates’ scores.

With one witness and four documents presented, INEC concluded its defense in the petition filed by the former Vice President against the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.

In a related development, the Presiding Justice of the Presidential Election Petition Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani, ordered President Tinubu to begin his defense of the victory in the presidential election on Tuesday, June 4, 2023.

Hearing Delayed in Seun Kuti Assault Case as Chief Magistrate is on Leave

The scheduled hearing for the assault case involving Afrobeat singer Seun Kuti did not proceed as planned at the Chief Magistrate Court in the Sabo-Yaba area of Lagos on Monday. Chief Magistrate Adeola Olatubosun was absent, as she is currently on leave. Despite the presence of Kuti, his counsel, and the prosecution team, the court could not proceed.

All parties involved in the case have agreed to reconvene on September 27, after the court’s annual vacation, to continue with the proceedings.

During the last court session on May 24, the magistrate dismissed a Nigeria Police Force application to arraign Kuti for an alleged assault on a police officer. Magistrate Olatunbosun had adjourned the case to July 3 to await legal advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Kuti had previously been released on bail on May 23 after being detained at the State Criminal Investigative Department, Panti, since May 15. The police had intended to arraign him on charges, but Femi Falana (SAN), Kuti’s defense counsel, urged the court to dismiss the application, accusing the police of disobeying a standing court order.

Falana objected to the proposed arraignment on two grounds: first, that his client is entitled to a minimum of 48 hours notice to answer to the charges, as stipulated by Section 82 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos; and second, that the charge filed by the police was contemptuous of a valid and existing court order issued on May 16.

The May 16 order stated that once the investigation was completed, the prosecution of the case should be transferred to the state government, as the police lacked the authority to investigate and prosecute the case. Falana argued that the police had blatantly ignored the court order.

“Until the court orders are complied with by the IGP, this court can’t entertain the charge from the police,” Falana asserted. “They owe it a duty to disclose to the court why they have overruled this court on the prosecution of this case. There is no appeal against the court’s order. We urge the court to disregard the application of the police, as it is an attempt to treat the court with provocative contempt.”

In response to the defense’s arguments, the police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor, urged the court to dismiss the objection, citing Section 23 of the Police Act, 2020, which empowers them to prosecute cases. Ejiofor stated that the Nigerian police cannot wait for the state government as they had already forwarded the case file to them.

“We also rely on last week’s rulings of this Court. We have compiled and duplicated this file to the office of the DPP. It is left for them to do their job. We cannot wait for them,” Ejiofor argued.

He further added, “We are empowered by law to prosecute all the way to the Supreme Court. Under Section 23 of the Police Act, we have ultimate powers to prosecute, which aren’t in conflict with sections 174 and 211 of the Nigerian Constitution, which gives the AG powers to take over any case, but we cannot wait for the state.”

The magistrate, having issued previous orders, maintained her stance of awaiting the DPP’s advice before proceeding with the case.

According to the investigating police officer, Lekan Ogundare, Seun Kuti allegedly committed the offense of assault on May 13 on the Third Mainland Bridge. It is claimed that the defendant drove dangerously on the bridge and intentionally blocked a moving police vehicle. Furthermore, he allegedly grabbed Inspector Mohammed Aminu, who was in police uniform and on official duty, and repeatedly slapped him in the face.

Yerima Commends President Tinubu’s Courage in Quick Removal of Fuel Subsidy 

Sani Yerima, the former governor of Zamfara State, has expressed admiration for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s boldness in removing fuel subsidy on his inauguration day, stating that it would have been a challenging task if the opportunity had been missed.

Yerima made these remarks on Monday following his meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The former governor praised the President, stating that his decision to remove subsidy demonstrated his courage. Yerima further expressed confidence that the principles of supply and demand would lead to a decrease in fuel prices, particularly when the government’s planned palliatives take effect.

Yerima stated, “The removal of subsidy on the day of inauguration is the best decision on the part of the President, otherwise, this would not have happened. Former President Muhammadu Buhari had intended to do this on several occasions, but he kept postponing the implementation until June.”

He continued, “Mr. President, having successfully governed Lagos for eight years, with a continuous tenure, understood the necessity of this action. He promptly executed it. As an economist, he knows that once the forces of demand and supply come into play, it will help maintain price equilibrium.”

President Tinubu’s decision to eliminate fuel subsidy on his inauguration day has drawn praise from Yerima, who believes it reflects the President’s determination and economic understanding. The former governor is optimistic that market dynamics will contribute to stabilizing fuel prices, especially when the government’s planned measures take effect.

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