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Shame On Media Trial! Nigerians React As FG Closes Asset Declaration Against Justice Onnoghen

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The prosecution counsel has closed the case against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The case against the CJN was closed after calling three witnesses to the stand, although the Federal Government had listed six witnesses, its counsel, Aliyu Umar announced that the government has closed its case.

Two witnesses a former Director at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the banker to Justice Onnoghen testified before the tribunal in favour of the Federal Government in addition to the first prosecution witness who testified on Monday, bringing the witnesses to three.

The lead prosecution counsel said though they initially listed six witnesses for the trial, however, it would not be calling on the remaining three, adding that he is offering them to the defence for cross-examination if they so wished.

However, counsel to the CJN, Mr Adegboyega Awomolo, said the defence does not need the witnesses and the prosecution can go ahead to close its case if it is done.

Awomolo also informed the tribunal of its intention to invoke section 303 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to enter a no-case submission.

He pleaded with the tribunal to allow him prepare a written address and urged the chairman to order the registry to make a record of proceedings available to him to guide him in the written address.

The prosecution did not object to the application, prompting the tribunal chairman, Mr Danladi Umar to make an order on the registry to avail parties in the matter with the record of proceedings.

He also ordered that the record must be made available to the parties on Monday and adjourned hearing in the no case submission to March 29.

Earlier on the CJN’s account officer in her evidence told the tribunal that justice Onnoghen maintains 5 different accounts with her bank in Abuja.

According to her, two of the accounts are naira accounts, one saving and the other current, while the remaining three in pounds, dollars and euro.

The witness said she met the defendant once in 2015 as a relationship manager and would not know if the accounts had been active since they were opened in 2009.

Under cross-examination by the CJN Onnoghen’s lawyer, Miss Okagbue said that Onnoghen never made any foreign transfer from the accounts.

The witness, however, admitted that Onnoghen had a facility of $500,000 as at January 2019 with the bank secured by his investment in bonds and other investment.

She further admitted that Justice Onnoghen as a disciplined account holder was encouraged by the bank to invest in profit yielding investment and that interest in the investment are regularly credited to his account, adding that the bank made an investment on his behalf from his account.

Earlier, the second prosecution witness, Awal Yakassai, under cross-examination admitted that two assets declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau, by Onnoghen, three years ago have till date not been verified.

He also told the tribunal that contrary to the allegations that the CJN owned fifty-five houses, he has only five houses one of which was sold to him by the Federal Government.

Justice Onnoghen is being prosecuted by the Federal Government on a six-count charge bordering on alleged failure to disclose some of his assets in his asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Here are some comments gathered as seen on Twitter:

@Chxta “The Onnoghen case (FG has rested its case), lays bare the dangers, and madness, of media trials. But then, these people don’t care. Their (short term) goal has been achieved. We’ll be left to pick the pieces up of the desecration of our third arm of government eventually.”

@YoungOtutu “With Justice #Onnoghen victory over the federal government and his sure reinstatement any moment from now. I want to use this medium to congratulate the incoming president of Nigeria Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.We are sure to coast to victory at the tribunals.”

@SamEba_ “For all those who labelled Onnoghen a criminal, may disgrace never depart from them.”

@Kcnaija “They just wanted the man out to manipulate election tribunal. Rogues claiming integrity!

@CeoNigeria “This Onnoghen case is highly pathetic. Imagine after the public ridicule, FG suddenly found nothing and closed the case. Thank God I resigned from political Twitter. Discussing Nigerian politics is emotionally draining! What’s for dinner please?

@Musa_BM “As a Buharist, i’m saddened by the Onnoghen’s case which was closed. He was embarrassed and ridiculed on something that was not properly investigated and checked. Clarity of perspective should always be considered when dealing with delicate issues.”

@Ummita71 “Onnoghen should resign as for me, since God has vindicated him, he should protest the ill treatment melted at him. He doesn’t deserve to be treated like that, a highly respected man, I knew there was much to his suspension.”

@beulahland17 “What’s going on here, FG closes case doesn’t mean the case is over or the man is innocent, it simply means it’s time for defense to open its case, these are legal terms.”

@Ogomkpuma “Almighty God, please when you want to punish Nigeria for the humiliation of CJN Onnoghen please remember us that spoke against his media trial but were dismissed and called criminals by APC Hypocrites. Lord have mercy.”

@Jeremiah_James “The case of Onnoghen is really painful because some persons used a sitting CJN to score cheap political points. The guts it took. I just pray he’s cleared and reinstated and to think we have a SAN as VP. Real shame.”

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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