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Acting CJN Muhammad Reveals When He’ll Step Aside, Says Onnoghen Remains Chief Justice of Nigeria

Peter Okunoren

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The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, ACJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has said that suspended Justice Walter Onnoghen, remains the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Muhammad said he would step aside once the Code of Conduct Tribunal or the Appeal Court reverses Onnoghen’s matter.

He, however, claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari does not need the permission of the National Judicial Council, NJC, to appoint an acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

This was part of Justice Muhammad’s response to a query given to him by the NJC.

Justice Muhammad pointed out that the NJC ought to be consulted only when a substantive CJN is being appointed or re-appointed.

He said, “In my respectful view, the National Judicial Council has no role to play in the appointment of an acting Chief Justice of Nigeria in the first instance, that is to say on first appointment.

“The council comes in where the appointment as the acting CJN is to be renewed or extended. I humbly refer to Section 231(4) of the 1999 Constitution.

“It was for the larger interest of the judiciary and the constitutionality that I accepted to be sworn in as acting CJN with the conviction that if the order of January 23, 2019 is eventually set aside, the status quo would be restored.

“But before it is set aside, there should be no vacuum in the office of the CJN and the chairman of the NJC.

“On January 25, 2019, I was summoned to the Aso Villa at the instance of the President. Prior to the summons, I was not aware of the fact that the Code of Conduct Tribunal made any order on January 23, 2019.

“Furthermore, beyond what I read in the newspapers and watched on the television just like any other Nigerian, I was not privileged to see any of the processes filed by the parties before the tribunal. Hence, I could not really appreciate the merit or demerit of divergent positions.

“On the 25th day of January, the President swore me in as the acing CJN and not as the substantive CJN. Justice Walter Onnoghen remains the CJN until he is removed from office in accordance with the provision of the constitution. He is only suspended.”

The Acting CJN said that he was a member of the NJC panel that removed Justice Obisike Orji of the Abia State High Court for accepting to be sworn in as chief judge by the Abia State Government without a recommendation of the NJC but added that his own case was different because he was only appointed as an acting CJN.

Muhammad appealed to the NJC to throw aside the petition written against him by a group, Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.

The group had written a petition to the NJC, demanding that the council to remove Muhammad as a justice of the Supreme Court.

They said Muhammad compromised by allowing himself to be sworn in by the President without recourse to the NJC.

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Fire Ravages Katangowa, Lagos Market [PHOTOS]

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An early morning fire has engulfed Katangowa Market in Agbado/Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway on Monday.

The fire outbreak which started around 3.15am destroyed the entire stretch of fairly used clothes’ shops opposite the Central Mosque in the market.

As of the time of filing this report, men of the state fire service and officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency were on the ground to put off the fire.

Also on the ground are policemen from the Okeodo Divisional Headquarters to prevent the looting of unaffected shops.

See photos:

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Stay Away From Duty Posts, NASU, SSANU Direct Varsity Workers As Strike Begins

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Academic activities will be paralyzed in the universities across the Federation from today as the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Educational Institutions and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), have issued a directive to all their members to stay away from their duty posts from Monday.

The unions, under the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU, also warned their branches that the strike is “total and comprehensive” and that “no form of concession or internal arrangement should be made with management,” during the strike.

The directive was dated 16th August 2019 and signed by the General Secretary of NASU, Comr Peters Adeyemi and the National President of SSANU, Comr. Samson Ugwoke.

The directive which was addressed to all branch chairmen, Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU, also warned that any defaulting branch would be sanctioned.

They were directed to fully mobilize their members and ensure full compliance, as the leadership would not hesitate to sanction any defaulting branch.

In the first phase, the directive said the strike will last for five days, as a result of government failure to attend to their demands after the expiration of the 14-day ultimate earlier issued to the government. The Ultimatum ended on Sunday.

The Ultimatum read: “Following the expiration of the 14 day ultimatum given to the Government and its failure to show firm commitment towards resolving the following issues: Payment of Earned Allowances; University Staff Schools matter; Renegotiation of 2009 Agreements; you are hereby directed to embark on a five (5) day strike effective from Monday, 19th to Friday, 23rd August 2019.

“Be informed that the strike is total and comprehensive for the five days. No form of concession or internal arrangement should be made with management while all members must be directed to stay away from their duty posts.

“Kindly recall the decision of the National Executive Councils of the two unions to the effect that Branches that default in compliance should be sanctioned.

“The National leadership shall not hesitate in this regard. You are hereby directed to fully mobilize your members and ensure full compliance.”

(Nigerian Tribune)

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Presidency Queries FIRS Boss Babatunde Fowler Over N12.6Trillion Tax Collection

Peter Okunoren

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The Presidency appears displeased with the taxes the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has collected in the last three years.

This is despite the fact that the FIRS generated the largest revenue in the nation’s tax history when it collected N5.3 trillion in taxes in 2018 and is targeting N8 trillion in 2019.

The Presidency conveyed its displeasure at the FIRS’ collection efforts in a query issued to the Executive Chairman of the FIRS Mr. Tunde Fowler by the Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari.

The query circulating in the social media titled: “Re: Budgeted FIRS Collections and Actual Collections”, reads: “Your attached letter (FIRS/EC/ECW/0249/19/027 dated 26 July 2019) on the above subject matter refers.

“We observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

“Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018.

The query marked “Restricted” added that “we observed that the actual collections for the period 2015 to 2017 were significantly worse than what were collected between 2012 and 2014. Accordingly, you are kindly invited to explain the reason for the poor collections.”

Kyari directed Fowler “to respond by 19 August 2019.”

The development has raised questions over the propriety of the query, given that there is no Minister for Finance and the query did not come from the Permanent Secretary of the ministry.

In January 2019, Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Tunde Fowler, announced in Lagos that the Service broke its collection records by generating N5.3 trillion from taxes collected and is targeting N8 trillion for 2019.

According to Fowler, the N5.320 trillion collection is considered to be the highest revenue ever generated by FIRS in history.

The highest in FIRS was N5.07 trillion generated in 2012 under Ms. Ifueko Omoigui.

Fowler said “FIRS’ generation of N5.3 trillion is significant as it was at a period when oil prices averaged $70 per barrel. Oil price was at an average of $100 to $120 per barrel between 2010 and 2013.”

In realizing this milestone, the FIRS boss noted that the non-oil component of the N5.320 trillion is N2.467 trillion that was (53.62 percent), while the oil element of the collection was N2.852 trillion (46.38 percent). From audit alone, the FIRS collected N212,792 billion from 2,278 cases with a huge reduction in audit circle.

In spite of this achievement, Tunde Fowler lamented that “while we have been steadily increasing revenue collection over the years, our cost of collection has actually been going down. In 2016, we collected N3,307 trillion, in 2017 we collected N4,027 trillion and in 2018 we collected N5,320 trillion.

“Meanwhile, the cost of collection as a percentage of actual taxes collected has been reducing; in 2016 it was 2.6%, in 2017 it was 2.49% while in 2018 it was 2.14%.” The FIRS is entitled to 4% cost of collection.

He added: “The Service has been making tremendous efforts in also increasing the amount of non-oil revenue it collects. The non-oil collection has contributed 64.99% in 2016, in 2017 it contributed 62.25% and in 2018 it contributed 53.62%.

“This represents the government’s focus on increasing non-oil sources of revenue and the diversification of the Nigerian economy.”

(The Nation)

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