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Court Stops FIRS from Enforcing VAT on Goods Consumed in Hotels

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Justice Rilwanu Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos has barred the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), from enforcing VAT provisions on goods and services consumed in hotels, restaurants and event centres in Lagos State.

 

Justice Aikawa gave the order while delivering judgment in the suit seeking to restrain the Attorney General (AG) of Lagos State from enforcing the Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption (Fiscalisation) Regulations Law (HORC), 2017, in the view that VAT Act has covered the field.

 

In the suit the Registered Trustees of Hotel Owners and Managers Association of Lagos (HOMA) had sued the AG in Lagos State and FIRS in the suit no. FHC/L/CS/360/2018.

 

The HOMA had asked the court to declare that by virtue of Section 7, of the VAT Act, the second defendant (FIRS) was the only lawful and constitutional agency charged with the administration and management of consumption tax generally and particularly in Lagos state.

 

Justice Aikawa, in delivering the judgment, dismissed the suit and held that it was lacking in merit, adding that the plaintiff was obliged to comply with the HORC Law 2009 and the HORC Regulations 2017.

 

The court also raised two issues by herself; whether the Federal High Court had the jurisdiction to pronounce on the constitutionality of VAT. The court resolved that it has jurisdiction.

 

Aikawa also held that the issue of the powers of the minister to amend the schedule to the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act was not in dispute before the court and so no pronouncement could be made on it.

 

The court in dismissing the originating summons, as lacking merit and resolving the questions and reliefs sought in favour of the first defendant, held:

 

“That consumption tax is not stated in either the exclusive and concurrent legislative list, in the Constitution of Nigeria, therefore, the absence on the concurrent and exclusive lists, puts consumption tax on the residual list, which is within the legislative competence and powers of state governments.

 

“That VAT Act can’t cover the field over what the federal government has no power to legislate upon, under the constitution, therefore the determinant factor in the issue of covering the field, is whether there is power to make the Law.

“The provisions of VAT Act relating to consumption tax are inconsistent with the Nigerian constitution.

 

“The Minister of Finance has corrected the anomaly, by including consumption tax in the list of taxes collectible by state government, therefore, the responsibility for collecting consumption tax lies on the state government.

 

“The provisions of Sections 1, 2, 4, 5 & 12 of VAT Act are in breech of the 1999 constitution and the plaintiffs are obliged to comply with the HORC Law 2009 and the HORC Regulations 2017.

 

“FIRS are barred from enforcing VAT provisions as it relates to consumption tax on goods and services consumed in Hotels, Restaurants and Event Centres in Lagos State, ” the judgement read.

 

The Registered Trustees of HOMA had filed an originating summons asking the court to determine the following:

 

“Whether the VAT Act regulating imposition of tax on consumption of goods and services has not covered the field on taxation of goods and services consumed in hotels, event centres and restaurant in Lagos State.

 

“Whether by virtue of Section 7 of the VAT Act, the second defendant (FIRS) is not the only lawful and constitutional agency charged with the administration and management of consumption tax generally and particularly in Lagos State.

 

“Whether the provisions of the Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption (Fiscalization) Regulations 2017 are of no effect, in view of the fact that VAT Act has covered the field”.

 

Consequently, the first defendant, (AG Lagos State), filed a counter-claim urging the court to determine;

 

“Whether the provisions of Sections 1, 2, 4, 5 & 12 of VAT Act by which the FIRS imposes tax on customers for goods and services consumed in hotels, restaurants and event centres in Lagos State is inconsistent with the provisions of Sections 4(2), 4(a) & (b) and 4 (7) (a) & (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and therefore unconstitutional and invalid?

 

“Whether by the provisions of Section 4 (7) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, the provisions of the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act Cap T2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria as amended by the Schedule to the Taxes and Levies order 2015) and the provisions of HORC Law 2009.

 

“Whether the counter-claimant is the only constitutional and lawful body empowered to assess, impose and collect taxes from customers of the Plaintiff for goods and services consumed in hotels, restaurant and event centres in Lagos State.

 

The first defendant sought some reliefs which included;

 

“A declaration that the provisions of Sections 1, 2, 4, 5 & 12 of VAT Act is inconsistent with the constitution and therefore invalid and unconstitutional.

 

“A declaration that the counter claimant (AG) is the only constitutional and lawful body empowered to assess, impose and collect consumption tax in Lagos State.

 

“A declaration that the plaintiff is obliged to comply and implement the provisions of the HORC Law, made pursuant thereto, in relation to good and services consumed in Hotels , Restaurant and Event Centres in Lagos State

 

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the FIRS from implementing or enforcing the provisions of VAT Act on customers of the plaintiff for goods and services consumed in hotels, event centres and restaurant in Lagos State”.

 


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History as Nigerian Scientists Announce 2 Potential Vaccines for COVID-19

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A group of scientists from different institutions in Nigeria coordinated by Prof. Kola Oloke, vice Chancellor, Precious Cornerstone University (PCU), Ibadan, has developed two potential vaccines that could prevent the Coronavirus disease currently ravaging the world.

History as Nigerian Scientists Announce 2 Potential Vaccines for COVID-19

This is contained  in a statement jointly signed on Monday by Oloke, the VC PCU and leaders of the team, Dr Oladipo  Kolawole, a Microbiologist, who specialises  in Medical Virology (Immunology and Bioinformatics) from Adeleke University, Ede.

Dr Ajayi Folorunsho, a Medical Physiologist with specialization in Pathophysiology from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, also signed the statement.

The statement said that they were  spurred into action by the need to rise to the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to them, the research work has reached an advanced stage of animal trial experiment, which would help to establish the veracity and efficacy of the vaccines for the prevention of the dreaded disease.

“We have worked extensively by exploring the SARS-CoV-2 genome from African countries to select the best possible potential vaccine candidates.

“After trying out some selected processes of vaccine development, we have been able to choose the best potential vaccine candidates for the SARS-CoV -2 and they have made the possible latent vaccine constructs,”  the scientists revealed.

The team pointed out that the research was a collaborative effort of a number of scientists from different institutions/disciplines.

“It was however carried out at the Genomics Research Hub of Helix Biogen Consult in Ogbomoso  and jointly funded by Trinity Immunoefficient Laboratory and Helix Biogen Consult owned by Dr Kolawole Oladipo,” the statement read.

It stated that consequently, they have urged other researchers in Africa to rise up to the challenge offered by the period by coming up with more solutions.

It stressed that “The understanding of genetic diversity/variability of the SARS-CoV-2 in Africa, is a very urgent assignment.

“There is a need for African scientists to wake up and provide more solutions to the pandemic specific for Africans.

“Therefore, this study was initiated to make significant scientific contributions to the development of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines”.

It further said as the team prepared for the animal trial experiment of the vaccine billed to commence any moment from now, the researchers expressed joy for the feat achieved.

“The findings from this research have shown the importance of multidisciplinary research efforts in healthcare. We are at the verge of something truly transformational in Nigeria and Africa and by extension, the world at large”

“We are  calling for financial assistance from the government and relevant stakeholders, so as to see the efforts through.

“In summary, the team has been able to construct two potential vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 , which should work in a much pretty way to protect the general populace against the novel COVID-19 , if it becomes successful in the animal trial experiments.

“The animal experiment will help us to validate the constructed vaccine, evaluate its effectiveness and safety.

“Therefore, we hereby call for support in various ways from non-governmental and governmental institutions to assist in the next steps of these novel vaccines development,” it stated.

 


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Sirika Denies Asking For or Receiving Bribes in Ministry of Aviation

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Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, has said that has never asked for or received a bribe and has challenged anyone who has contrary information to come forward.

Sirika Denies Asking For or Receiving Bribes in Ministry of Aviation

Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation

Sirika, said the clarification became necessary after backlash from Nigerians on Twitter accusing the ministry of aviation of demanding money before flights are approved.

Speaking at the presidential task force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, he said such claims are false.

“I have read also on Twitter that there are certain monies being charged for approval for flights. This is far from the truth. It’s for free. It’s just frivolous; it’s just a pen to be approved,” he said.

“Just send a text message, we will send them back as approved. So nobody should con anybody and people should stop living in the past.

“For us in this government, we are very conscious of the weight of responsibility on our heads. I’ve been minister five years now and I challenge anybody before all of these cameras.

“There’s not a single aviation business man or woman owning an aeroplane or any airline or doing any kind of business, catering, taxi, hotel, whatever it is, any business whatsoever within the aviation industry, or any permanent secretary, director or any civil servant or any public servant or whatsoever that has given me or I asked, who he offered, or I take any money and I challenge anybody today.

“There is freedom of information act in place. We will give you all of the information, all of the documents that are required.”

The minister advised citizens to stop “living in the past” because the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is different.


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Facebook, Red Cross Launch a Campaign Calling for Vigilance Against Covid-19

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Facebook and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are partnering to launch #AfricaTogether – a digital campaign and two-day festival on June 4th and 5th featuring artists from across Africa to encourage continued vigilance against Covid-19.

With more than 100,000 Covid-19 cases confirmed on the continent and containment measures easing in many countries, #AfricaTogether combines musical and comedy performances with information from Covid-19 first responders and fact-checkers from across Africa.

#AfricaTogether will include a festival with performances by artists such as Aramide, Ayo, Femi Kuti, Ferre Gola, Salatiel, Serge Beynaud, Patoranking, Youssou N’dour amongst many others, as well as a digital awareness campaign with prevention messages developed with Red Cross and Red Crescent health experts and targeting simultaneously Facebook users in 48 countries across sub-Saharan Africa.

The event will be streamed on Facebook Live on the 4th June in English and hosted by the Nigerian popular actor and comedian Basketmouth and in French on the 5th June by the renowned media personality Claudy Siar.

To watch the live shows, viewers can tune in to the Facebook Africa page and Red Cross and Red Crescent Facebook pages. To register and learn more about the artist lineup and how to tune in, please visit the Facebook event pages in English and in French.

Commenting, Mamadou Sow, a long-serving member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement said, “The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis in that it can affect us all, and ignores borders, ethnicities, and religions. African communities so far have responded quickly, but the risk remains very real.

“If we all do our part, we will beat Covid-19. Music is a powerful uniting force and we hope that the #AfricaTogether festival will bring renewed hope and action against this dangerous disease.”

Adding her voice to the initiative, Jocelyne Muhutu-Rémy, Facebook’s Strategic Media Partnerships Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa said: “The spike in the use of online tools during the Covid-19 pandemic shows the social usefulness of digital platforms in difficult times. We are seeing many incredible initiatives from artists bringing their communities together on Facebook Live.

“The #AfricaTogether campaign will enable people to learn more about fighting Covid-19, while enjoying entertainment from their favourite African performers. We will be spreading joy in a way that doesn’t spread the disease.”

This event is one of the many ways that Facebook and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are both contributing in the fight against Covid-19 across the continent.

Facebook continues to work with governments across Sub-Saharan Africa, including partnering with organizations like health agencies and NGOs who are actively using its platforms to share accurate information about the situation and launching Covid-19 Information Centers in more than 40 countries, which provides real-time updates from health authorities and helpful articles, videos and posts about social distancing and preventing the spread of the virus.

With a network of more than 1.5 million volunteers and staff across the continent, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is on the frontlines of combating Covid-19 in communities through information campaigns, providing soap and access to clean water, and supporting health care facilities and workers with training, equipment, and supplies. In parts of Africa, Covid-19 is another layer of crisis on top of conflict, violence, or climate disasters.


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