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ICT
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Thursday faulted the report that Nigeria records 3 million new lines in Q1 2021, despite ban on SIM card sale in the country.


According to a statement signed by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, “the attention of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been drawn to an online media report alleging that mobile telephony subscriptions in Nigeria somehow grew by 3,000,000 new subscribers in the first quarter of 2021, despite the suspension on the registration of new subscribers which took effect from December 9, 2020 and was only lifted in May, 2021.”


“The Ericsson Mobility Report cited in the online publication is essentially a forecast of trends based on Ericsson’s analysis and does not refer to the NCC or any official channel as source for its data and/or projections.”


“It is therefore inaccurate that Nigeria recorded 3million new lines in the 1st Quarter of 2021 as stated in the media report.”


“We wish to use this opportunity to clarify that the Nigerian Communications Commission and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) are the only authoritative sources of authentic data on the Nigerian telecommunications sector. Indeed, the Commission is well aware of the critical need to make accurate and up-to-date data available to all Stakeholders.”


“Indeed, as a matter of corporate policy and consistent with international best practice, relevant data and statistics on the industry are transparently reported and regularly updated on the Commission’s website (< https://www.ncc.gov.ng/statistics-reports/industry-overview >) for free use by interested Stakeholders.”


“The Commission encourages all Stakeholders to visit its website for authentic data on the sector and to refer all doubts to its Public Affairs Department to avoid unnecessary controversy and/or inadvertently misleading other Stakeholders who may rely on such reports.”


“The Commission also urges Stakeholders to disregard any information on subscriber data different from those presented in the Commission’s website.”
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Government, Tourism

The Federal Government of Nigeria has demanded a full and unconditional return of the 1,130 Benin Bronzes that were looted in the 19th century and domiciled in German museums.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the demand in Berlin, Germany, during separate meetings with the German Minister of State for Culture, Prof. Monika Grutters, and the German Foreign Minister, Mr Heiko Maas.

 

A statement by Mr Segun Adeyemi, the Special Assistant to the President (Media) Office of the minister said, Mohammed  who led the Nigerian delegation to the talks, made the demand while reacting to comments by Grutters that Germany was ready to make ‘substantial return’ of the 1,130 looted artefacts,

 

He stressed that return of the looted artefacts should be whole rather than substantial.

 

The minister also said that the issue of provenance, which had to do with the place of origin of the artefacts, should not be allowed to unduly delay the repatriation of the art works.

 

He contended  “the fact that the looted artefacts are known as Benin Bronzes is already a confirmation of their source of origin (which is Benin).”

 

While meeting with the German Foreign Minister, Mohammed  said there should be ”absolutely no conditions attached” to the return of the artefacts, which he described as “an ideal whose time has come”.

 

He said there was the need for the parties to commit to definite timelines for the return of the Benin Bronzes, adding that it was necessary to conclude all negotiations in a very short term.

 

He said the ongoing discussion between Nigeria and Germany on the return of the art works was not just the end of an era but the

 

beginning of a new vista of stronger relations, pivoted by cultural diplomacy between both countries.

 

The minister thanked the Government of Germany for taking the lead in the global efforts to repatriate all artefacts that were looted from Nigeria and indeed from the African continent.”We see Germany as a leader in the efforts to take practical steps to repatriate our stolen artefacts, and we hope Germany will sustain that lead,” he said

 

Also in the statement, Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki,  a member of the delegation, disclosed that a ”transformational” museum is being built in Benin city to house the artefacts upon their return.

 

He said the museum was part of a new cultural district in the city.

 

The governor said he was attending the talks to demonstrate the strong partnership  involving the Federal Government of Nigeria, the (Benin) royal family and the people of Edo State.

 

For his part, the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Yusuf Tuggar, said the issue of the repatriation of the Benin Bronzes should be seen as an opportunity to take the cooperation between Nigeria and Germany to a greater height.

 

”This is an opportunity that must not be missed. Minor issues should not delay the repatriation,” he said,

 

Tuggar ommended the government of Germany for taking the lead in the repatriation process.

 

Earlier, the German Minister of State for Culture, Prof. Grutters, said ”the way we deal with the issue of Benin Bronzes is important to addressing our colonial past”, describing the issues as ”an important personal concern.”She disclosed that the 1,130 artefacts would be returned to Nigeria from the beginning of 2022.

 

Gutters noted that the fact that Germany had twice sent delegations to Nigeria for talks over the planned repatriation was an indication that both sides had moved beyond mere talks,

 

She disclosed that the Museums in Germany that were holding Benin Bronzes had agreed to cooperate.

 

The Nigerian delegation as listed in the statement also included the Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monument (NCMM), Prof. Abba Tijani, and the Benin Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Ezelekhae Ewuare.

 

Adeyrmi said that members of the delegation were taken on a guided tour of the Humboldt-Forum, a royal palace turned museum in the heart of Berlin that houses art works from around the world.

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Finance

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has generated N1.003 trillion revenue in six months from January to June 2021, a 40.48% increase from N713.5 billion generated within the same period in 2020.

 

Customs Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah said in Abuja on Thursday that “Hitting the Trillion-Naira mark within six months is unprecedented in the Service. This feat is as a result of resolute pursuit of what is right and willingness to adapt to changes brought about by global health challenges occasioned by covid-19.

 

“The Service revenue profile continues to be on the increase due to on-going reforms that exploits the potentials of technology.

 

“This is possible through robust automation of the processes and procedures. Deploys Officers strictly based on the Standard Operating Procedure.

 

“Robust stakeholder sensitisation resulting in more informed/voluntary compliance as well as improved working relationship with the National Assembly” he explained.

 

“As stated by the CGC earlier in the year, it is always the desire of the Service to generate more revenue than what is set for it, given favorable environment.

“NCS will always be willing and happy to break its records as it is in this case of over One-Trillion naira in 6 months” he said.

 

Similarly, Attah also disclosed that within the period under review, the service  effected, a total number of 2,333 assorted seizures with duty paid value at N4.4 billion.

 

He noted that Some of these seizures included dangerous items like arms and ammunition, illicit drugs and food items like rice, vegetable oil.

 

He added that what were seized could have had grave consequences on national security and economy.

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Finance
The FIRS has appointed some commercial banks as agents to recover the sum of N1.8 trillion from accounts of Messrs MultiChoice Nigeria Limited (MCN) And MultiChoice Africa (MCA). This was contained in a statement signed by the Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami.


The statement confirmed that the decision to appoint the banks as agents and to freeze the accounts was as a result of the group’s continued refusal to grant FIRS access to its servers for audit. It was discovered that the companies persistently breached all agreements and undertakings with the Service, they would not promptly respond to correspondences, they lacked data integrity and are not transparent as they continually deny FIRS access to their records. Particularly, MCN has avoided giving the FIRS accurate information on the number of its subscribers and income. The companies are involved in the under-remittance of taxes which necessitated a critical review of the tax-compliance level of the company.


The statement added that the group’s performance does not reflect in its tax obligations and compliance level in Nigeria. The level of non-compliance by Multi-Choice Africa (MCA), the parent Company of Multi-Choice Nigeria (MCN) is very alarming. The parent company, which provides services to MCN has never paid Value Added Tax (VAT) since its inception.


The issue with Tax collection in Nigeria, especially from foreign-based Companies conducting businesses in Nigeria and making massive profits is frustrating and infuriating to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). Regrettably, Companies come into Nigeria just to infringe on our tax laws by indulging in tax evasion. There is no doubt that broadcasting, telecommunications and the cable-satellite industries have changed the face of communication in Nigeria. However, when it comes to tax compliance, some companies are found wanting. They do with impunity in Nigeria what they dare not try in their countries of origin.


The statement further confirmed that Nigeria contributes 34% of total revenue for the Multi-Choice group. The next to Nigeria from intelligence gathering is Kenya with 11%, and Zambia is in 3rd place with 10%. The rest of Africa where they have presence accounts for 45% of the group’s total revenue.


Information currently at the disposal of FIRS has revealed a tax liability for relevant years of assessment for ₦1,822,923,909,313.94 (One trillion, eight hundred and twenty-two billion, nine hundred and twenty-three million, nine hundred and nine thousand, three hundred and thirteen naira, ninety-four kobo only) and $342,531,206 (Three hundred and forty-two million, five hundred and thirty-one thousand, two hundred and six dollars only).


Under FIRS powers in Section 49 of the Companies Income Tax Act Cap C21 LFN 2004 as amended, Section 41 of the Value Added Tax Act Cap V1 LFN 2004 as amended and Section 31 of the FIRS (Establishment) Act No. 13 of 2007, all bankers to MCA & MCN in Nigeria were therefore appointed as Collecting Agents for the full recovery of the aforesaid tax debt.


In this regard, the affected banks are required to sweep balances in each of the above-mentioned entities’ accounts and pay the same in full or part settlement of the companies’ respective tax debts until FULL recovery. This should be done before the execution of any transaction involving the companies or any of their subsidiaries. It is further requested that the Federal Inland Revenue Service be informed of any transactions before EXECUTION on the account, especially transfers of funds to any of their subsidiaries.


The Executive Chairman, FIRS concluded that it is important that Nigeria puts a stop to all tax frauds that have been going on for too long. All Companies must be held accountable and made to pay their fair share of relevant taxes including back duty taxes owed, especially VAT for which they are ordinarily agents of collection.
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Energy

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, on Wednesday tasked the board of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) on enforcement of deregulation when the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) becomes law.

 

Sylva who gave the charge while inaugurating the Board Chairman of the Agency, Mr Obinna Atuonwu, in Abuja, said, “You were carefully chosen, and more especially at a good time when the PIB has been passed by the National Assembly. This entails a lot of movement.

 

“There is a provision for deregulation and subsidy removal in the bill, you are going to manage so many things, transiting from subsidy to deregulation.

 

“PPPRA is core in all these as well as the autogas policy which you will also be at the middle of overseeing.”

 

The Minister assured the board that it would work with a competent team, as the reappointed Executive Secretary of the agency had enough experience and was a technocrat.

 

“You can get a lot from him being a technocrat, and you from the political side, you will complement each other to work together.

 

“But I want you to know that you are going to preside over one of the most enlightened boards in the country; all the unions and activists have their representatives in the board. I wish you all the best,” he said

 

Responding, Atuonwu thanked the President and Sylva for the appointment and assured them of commitment in his service.

 

“I pledge my loyalty to the agency, ministry and our party, APC. I want to reassure you that I will not have issues with the Executive Secretary. When it is time to serve the nation, always count on me.

 

 “I am fully aware of the turbulence ahead, but I am sure it will pass,” he said.Also, the Executive Secretary Abdulkadir Sadiu congratulated the board chairman and assured that the management would continue to work cordially with the board.

 

 “The management has had cordial relationship with the board in the past four years and that will continue.

 

“I trust we can achieve this together, and I assure of my personal support towards accomplishing it,” he said.

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