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Anti corruption fight: NASS is giving Buhari necessary support says Omo-Agege

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Anti corruption fight: NASS is giving Buhari necessary support says Omo-Agege

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has indicated that the 9th National Assembly is determined to continue its support for President Buhari on anti graft law.

This was contained in a statement that was issued by his special adviser on media Yomi Odunuga.
He said the National Assembly is working on strengthening the country’s anti-graft laws.
OmoAgege the statement indicated, spoke while receiving representatives of the Good Leadership Advocacy for Africa (GLAFA) to his office, 
He said the Ninth Assembly will continue to give President Muhammadu Buhari the necessary support in his fight against corruption.
Omo-Agege who doubles as the Chairman, Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, pointed out that this explains why the National Assembly intervenes whenever some government agencies appear to be veering off the normal course.0
He said: “Talking about corruption, there has been an argument that we should make more laws and make punishments more stringent. Of course, there is also a school of thought which argues that we have enough laws but that we need to create incentives for those who are doing the investigations, arrests and prosecution so that they can see this as a really worthwhile effort without any top official hindering their work.

“Reassurances will go a long way to help but indeed there are lacunae that can be addressed with new laws like what we have done with the Sexual Harassment Bill because it was becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to prosecute crimes in that area as it was difficult to have the victim step forward for obvious reasons.

“Our job at the National Assembly is to assist President Buhari in strengthening these institutions, knowing full well that he will not be here forever. The National Assembly is strengthening the anti-corruption laws including the EFCC, ICPC enabling acts among others”.

The federal lawmaker expressed appreciation for the organisation’s  acknowledgement that the National Assembly leadership has not been involved in the humongous corruption being uncovered at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and other government agencies.

According to Senator Omo-Agege, the National Assembly leadership is determined to ensure the success of the Buhari administration, even as he asked Nigerians to rally round the President.

“As a legislative body we are very conscious of the powers and privileges set aside for us, as embedded in the 1999 Constitution (As Amended). Very often, the legislative arm has been accused of veering off legislative activities and moving into areas that some believe to be set aside for the Executive arm of government.

“Apart from providing enabling environment for the President to succeed, our major interest is to enhance the success of his anti-corruption agenda.

“I agree that corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of governance in this country and some have come to a conclusion that it is a bigger pandemic than the Covid-19. So, that is part of the reasons why we are determined to give Mr. President everything he needs to succeed in this war because, at the end of the day, this is going to be part of the legacies he will leave behind, along with tackling insecurity.

Earlier, leader of the team and President of GLAFA, Dr. O’Diakpo Obire, frowned at the recent financial malfeasance rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

He commended the National Assembly for its probe of the interventionist agency.

He also lauded the Deputy President of the Senate for sponsoring 19 bills within his first year in the Ninth Senate.

Dr. Obire explained that with over 10,000 membership strength across 54 African Nations, at the core of GLAFA’s mandate is the promotion of good governance and quality leadership on the continent.

Other members on the GLAFA delegation include Dr. Prosper Ahworegba, Mrs. Kenny Okorie, Barr. Ezenwa Anumnu, Alhaji Umma Sanda, Mr. Ugwuanyi Onyekachi and Mr. Iroajamma Orji.

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Legislature

Its wishful thinking to believe NASS can give new constitution to Nigeria says Omo-Agege

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Its wishful thinking to believe NASS can give new constitution to Nigeria says Omo-Agege

Nigerians should not engage in wishful thinking that the 9th National Assembly will deliver new constitution because it lacks the mandate to do so, the deputy President of the Senate Omo-Agege has indicated.

Omo-Agege spoke when he hosted members of Alliance of Nigerian Patriots in Abuja.

This always contained in a statement issued by Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to the Deputy President of the Senatw Yomi Odunuga.
The senator who chairs the Senate Adhoc Committee on Constitution Review, stressed that the National Assembly has no powers to replace the current Constitution but can only amend it.

The delegation was led by Ambassador Umunna Orjiako.
The deputy Presidentnof the Senate cited advanced democracies like the United States of America where Nigeria’s presidential system of government was fashioned after as well as Sections 8 and 9 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), saying what is obtainable is piecemeal alteration of the Constitution.

He, therefore, urged those calling for a brand new Constitution to channel their energy towards participating actively in the ongoing amendment of the Constitution by the  Ninth Assembly.
In his words, “One of the issues you raised is the replacement of the 1999 Constitution. I am not so sure that we as a Parliament have the power to replace the Constitution. We can only make amendments. And it is explicit in Sections 8 and 9 of the Constitution on how we can do that and the requisite number of votes required.

“I say that because there are some top attorneys in this country, who for some reason, keep saying that we don’t even need any of this, that we should just bring a new Constitution. We can’t do  that. What we are mandated to do by law is to look at those provisions and bring them up-to-date with global best practices, especially to the extent that it tallies with the views of the majority of Nigerians. So we are not in a position to replace this Constitution but we can only amend.

“But, like I said, most of the issues you have raised here, like zones replacing states, that’s another euphemism for going back to the regions. We will look into that if that is what majority of our people want.

“You talked about devolution of powers. The preponderance of views we have received so far is that those 68 items are very wide and need to shed some weight and move them to the Concurrent Legislative List”. 

He also expressed his opinion on the call by some persons for the scrapping of the upper legislative chamber.

According to him, the country cannot practise unicameral legislature considering its large population.

“One of the issues raised by #EndSARS Protesters was that they should abolish the Senate and merge us with the House of Representatives. We are not in a position to do that. Mr. President is not even in a position to do that as well. Because they believe that he can just by fiat say ‘Senate bye bye. it will now be a National Assembly made up of only the House of Representatives’.

“But, as I said at a different forum, the President does not have such powers and I am not so sure that even we can legislate out the National Assembly,” he said.

He continued: “There are people who believe that yes, we had the 2014 confab report that has been ‘transmitted’ to the National Assembly and there is the El-Rufai Report on Restructuring, 2018, that has been transmitted to the National Assembly and that we should just take them to Mr President for his assent and we have the Constitution amended.

“But that is not how things are done here. We are a country governed by laws and the grundnorm is the Constitution. And the Constitution itself has spelt out what we can do and how we can do it”. 

Concluding, he tasked the group to reach out to other stakeholders across the country.

Earlier, Ambassador Orjiakor called for the reconfiguration of the present 36 states structure into six zones as federating units, drastic cut in the Exclusive Legislative List and expansion of the Concurrent Legislative List, reform of the National Assembly to a hybrid Presidential and Westminster systems, abolition of security votes to be replaced by regular security budget allocations and electoral reforms to ensure a truly independent INEC. 

He also called for limited immunity for entitled public officers in the Executive branch of government, provision for independent candidacy in all elections, creating a consensual balance between meritocracy and federal character among others.

Legislators who joined the Deputy President of the Senate to receive the guests include Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Saabi Yau. 

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Legislature

Senate urges FG to investigate deaths caused by strange ailment in Benue 

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Senate urges FG to investigate deaths caused by strange ailment in Benue

The senate yesterday resolved to urge the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Arbovirus and Vector Research Centre (NAVRC) to investigate the outbreak of a strange ailment suspected to be yellow fever in Epeilo-Otukpa and Itabono-Owukpa communities in Benue State that has claimed many lives.The upper chamber also Urge the Federal Ministry of Health to urgently mobilize focal persons to the affected areas to complement the efforts of the Benue State Government in ascertaining the nature of the ailment.This was sequel to a motion on urgent need to deal with the outbreak of a strange ailment suspected to be Yellow Fever, ravaging Epeilo-Otukpa and Itahono-Owukpa communities in Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State.The motion was sponsored by senator  Patrick Abba (Benue SouthThe upper chamber also tasked the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to promptly put up gurveillance to contain the disease and see to the treatment of victims and protect others from further contacting  it.It urge the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), to synergize and support the people of Benue South Senatorial District and in particular the Epeilo-Otukpa and Itabono -Owukpa Communities, to treat, prevent and or reduce the number of cases and deaths.The senate further urged the Federal Ministry of Health to immediately activate and set up a multi-agency yellow fever emergency Operatives Centre (EOC) in Benue South, if the result should be positive for yellow fever.”They should conduct mass vaccination and awareness campaigns in Benue South Senatorial District, being that yellow fever is a completely vaccine-preventable disease as a single shot of the yellow fever vaccine protects for a lifetime.”Senator Moro in his motion had noted with grave pain the outbreak of a strange ailment said to be yellow fever in Epeilo-Otukpa and Itabono communities of Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue South Senatorial District, Benue State, Nigeria.He expressed further concern that the strange ailment has not yet been effectively diagnosed by health authorities.He however indicated that the Benue State Ministry of Health and Human Services has been able to intervene to some extent havi e collected samples and sent same to National Reference Laboratory to be able to establish the kind of organism that is causing the ailment and is availing victims of interim treatment.
He expressed saddeness that people the affected people in the rural localities are dying on a daily basis in their numbers with Epeilo and ltabono Communities recording 20 and 25 deaths respectively.He said death toll has been increaseing on hourly bases adding that the disease has been spreading to Ichama in Okpokwu where three deaths have been recorded. 

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Finance bill gets accelerated consideration as it passes second reading

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Finance bill gets accelerated consideration as it passes second reading

The Finance Bill, 2020 yesterday got an accelerated consideration for first and second readings in the Senate, barely 24 hours after a presidential letter that demanded for its consideration and passage was recieved by the senate.
The executive bill seeks to support the implementation of the 2021 budget by proposing key reforms to specific taxation, customs, excise, fiscal and other laws. 
It also seeks to amend the Capital Gains Tax Act; Personal Income Tax Act; and Value Added Tax. 
The piece of legislation scaled second reading in the Red Chamber after the lawmakers debated its general principles. 
On the aalue added Tax Section 4 of the VAT Act was amended by increasing the value added tax payable by consumers from 5% to 7.5%. 
According to Section 19 the penalty payable by a taxable person for non-remittance within the specified period has been raised from 5% to 10%. 
Under section 28, the penalty for failure to give notice of change of address or permanent cessation of business was increased from N 5000 to N 50, 000 in the first month and N25000 in subsequent months. 
The bill proposes a new section 8 to cater for the registration of a taxable person upon commencement of business. 
The penalty for failure to register has been increased from N10, 000 to N50, 000 in the first month and from N 5, 000 to N 25, 000 in the subsequent months. 
The new section 15 of VAT introduces a threshold for VAT compliance. Thus companies with turnover of N25, 000, 000. 00 or more shall render their tax on or before the 21st of every month. 
On the Capital Gains Act the bill proposes to amend section 36(2) of the Capital Gains Tax Act to the extent that exemption on tax liability for compensation for loss of office which was hitherto limited to N10, 000 is now extended to N10 million. 
It also proposes a new section 32, which provides that no tax shall apply to any trade or business transferred to a Nigerian company for the purposes of better organization of that trade or business etc. 
This tax exemption is however not applicable if the acquiring company subsequently disposes of the assets within one year of acquiring same. 
On Personal Income Tax Act section 49 of the Act was amended to make the provision of Tax Identification Number (TIN) mandatory for persons intending to open a new bank account for purposes of business operations or for continuation of operation of such bank account.
The mandatory requirement for tax identification number is for accounts being operated for purposes of business transactions. 
Leading the debate on the bill, the Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi said it has become imperative that the Nigerian tax legislation is updated frequently to respond to the challenges of today’s business environment.
He said the provisions contained in the Finance Bill are intended to incentivize economic activities to stimulate GDP growth and facilitate increase in the revenue generated 
“If the Nigerian government is determined to generate sufficient revenue to finance its numerous projects and meet the sustainable development goals of eradicating poverty from the country, it is important for the government to take pragmatic steps. Such steps should include devising ingenious means of expanding the tax base and collecting taxes effectively. 
“Tax education and sensitization of the public would go a long way in achieving compliance from taxpayers,” he said. 
The Senate President Ahmad Lawan, after scaling second, referred the bill to the Senate Committees on Finance, Customs and Public Procurement and report back in one week.

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