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VAT: Expert tells Buhari govt what to do

A tax expert, Taiwo Oyedele, has urged the Federal Government to review its Value Added Tax (VAT) law and better policing of its borders to improve its VAT collections.

Oyedele, Head of Tax and Corporate Advisory Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), West Africa, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.

He said the government could shore up its revenue through a review of VAT waivers and come up with a framework for VAT on imported services and digital transactions.

“At the moment, we have a lot of issues with Nigerian VAT law because most times policymakers talk about the rate alone without saying anything about the rest of the law.

“For instance, the country loses lot of revenue from the importation of a lawyer from Ghana who pays nothing for services rendered in Nigeria because he pays no VAT for such services whereas his Nigerian counterpart does.

“The implication is that it makes the country’s lawyer less competitive because there is no legal provision in the VAT law that imposes five per cent VAT on such imported services.

“The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has seen this loophole and it is trying to block the leakage through the back door by issuing circulars to that effect.

“The truth is that you cannot use circulars to impose tax, it has to be by law, so the government needs to amend the law to block this leakage and others,” he said.

Oyedele said that the government should also have a regulatory framework for generating revenue from digital transactions.

NAN reports that digital economy (transaction) is the worldwide network of economic activities, commercial transactions and professional interactions that are enabled by Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).

He said that though some of the digital transactions operators such as Uber, Bolt (Taxify), office sharing and even technology platform providers like Facebook, Google, online stores and blogs pay VAT, the taxes were not backed by law.

According to him, people place adverts on these platforms.

“The government should explore these opportunities and back it up with law to ensure that not just few people pay taxes but all operators,” he said.

He said South Africa had just released a regulation on its digital economy, adding that Nigeria should follow suit.

Besides, Oyedele noted that four per cent cost of VAT collection by FIRS was too high by global benchmark standards, while 15 per cent allocation of VAT to Federal Government was no longer justified.

“VAT law was introduced in 1993 and took effect in 1994; all over the world, including Nigeria, consumption tax is usually a state and local government tax.

“But along the line, it was discovered that some states do not have capacity to collect the tax and agreed that the Federal Government should collect the tax on behalf of states.

“That is why the Federal Government gets 15 per cent as cost of administering it while states get 85 per cent.

“Technically for VAT, Federal Government gets 15 per cent and FIRS gets 4 per cent bringing total accrued to the Federal Government to 19 per cent.”

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We arrested Dalori, CEO Galaxy Transport for alleged N7bn Ponzi scheme – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested the Chief Executive Officer of Galaxy Transportation and Construction Services Limited, Mr Babagana Dalori.

Dalori was arrested for allegedly defrauding no fewer than 27, 400 Nigerians to the tune of about N7 billion through fake promises of mouth-watering returns on their investment in his companies.

The commission’s Acting Publicity secretary, Mr Tony Orilade, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

According to the statement, Dalori, who is currently undergoing interrogation in the Commission, had incorporated the firm in 2012 with one tricycle (Keke NAPEP), which through pool investments by members of the public later boasted of 50 tricycles.

“The entrepreneur later diversified into other business ventures while promising mouth-watering returns to investors.

“The commission’s investigators discovered that Dalori initially paid 200 per cent interest on investors’ deposits in the firm and later reduced the interest to 135 per cent before the scheme crashed in 2018.

“To get as many unsuspecting victims into his ponzi net, Dalori engaged in massive advertisements on radio and television, including a production of a movie by A-list Nollywood actors.

“Unfortunately, his gimmicks paid off as different people took their hard-earned savings, inheritance, pensions and other source of income and invested in Galaxy.

“Now, the scheme has crashed and investors can no longer get their money.

“At the moment, he has used the investors money to incorporate different entities without getting their consent.

“He now has Galaxy Global Energy Concept Ltd, Galaxy Miners Concept Ltd, Galaxy Global Farms, Galaxy Computers, Galaxy Block Making Factory, Galaxy Hospital and Galaxy Hotel.”

According to Orilade, all bank accounts belonging to Galaxy have been frozen in order to prevent further dissipation of investors’ funds, pending the conclusion of investigation.

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NDLEA uncovers airport cartel planting hard drugs in passengers’ luggage

National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has uncovered a cartel, which specialised in planting illicit drugs in travellers’ luggage.

The NDLEA Chairman, Col. Muhammad Abdallah (rtd), disclosed this in a statement.

The cartel was uncovered after NDLEA detectives embarked on investigation of a Nigerian lady identified as Zainab Aliyu.

Zainab was accused of entering Saudi Arabia with tramadol. The implication in this discovery by NDLEA was the realisation that many Nigerians arrested and executed for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia might be innocent.

Zainab was arrested by Saudi Arabia Police on December 26, 2018 shortly after arriving for Lesser Hajj.

Zainab, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, had travelled from Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) in company with her mother, Mrs. Maryam Aliyu, and sister, Hajara Aliyu.

She was later arrested over allegations that a luggage, bearing her name tag, contained the unlawful substance.

However, while in detention, the NDLEA had received a petition from Zainab’s father, seeking a probe of his daughter’s ordeal.

Consequently, the NDLEA Commander in charge of MAKIA had launched an investigation, which culminated in the arrest and arraignment before a Federal High Court in Kano of seven staff of the airport.

The accused are Idris Umar Shehu (alias Umar Sanda), Sanni Suleiman, Nuhu Adamu, Rhoda Adetunji, Udosen Itoro Henry and Sanni Hamisu.

According to a report of the investigation, a copy of which was made available to journalists yesterday, a suspected cartel in the airport had planted the tramadol-bearing luggage on Zainab.

In the report, which has since been forwarded to the Consul-General in Jeddah for action, it was further established that Zainab who, like her mother and sister, had only a luggage, was not aware that a second bag had been labelled in her name.

The NDLEA said: “Based on the investigation activities carried out, it has been revealed that the said Zainab Habibu Aliyu is not the owner of the second luggage tagged in her name.

“On 24th of December 2018, Maryam Habibu Aliyu and her two daughters, Hajara Habibu Aliyu and Zainab Habibu Aliyu, who are students of Maitamia Sule University, Kano, were to travel to Saudi Arabia for Lesser Hajj. The three passengers had one luggage each.

“At the Departure Hall, three bags belonging to the three passengers were given to one Bako A. Salisu, who weighed the bags, tagged and gave the labels to the passengers.

“Immediately the luggage of the passengers were checked in, Rhoda Adetunji, an official of the Airport Authority (one of the accused persons) approached them, asking for their remaining luggage as the luggage checked-in by the passengers were lower than the total weight they were entitled to travel with – two of their luggage weighed 36kgs while one weighed 17kgs.

“The passengers ignored the said Rhoda Adetunji and went to the arrival hall to purchase yellow card and by the time they came back from the arrival hall to the departure hall, screening for boarding had already started and the three passengers all went for boarding. They never consented nor knew that any other luggage was tagged to the name of any of the passengers.

“On 26th of December 2018 about 12.45 midnight, the Saudi Arabia police came to the hotel room of Maryam and her daughters in Saudi Arabia to arrest one of her daughters, Zainab, on allegation that one of the luggage tagged to her name and passed has prohibited drugs, tramadol. Zainab is presently in detention in Saudi Arabi awaiting investigations and prosecutions.

“Following receipt of the complaint, seven people working at MAKIA were arrested in connection with the offence.

“In the course of the investigations, the telephones of all the suspects were seized by the agency for investigations, while going through the phones of the suspects one after other, it was discovered that the following happened between Sani Suleiman and Idris Umar, alias Umar Sanda.

“On 24th December 2018, Sani Suleiman with phone number 08036066448 was in conversation with Umar Sanda with phone number 08065499791 at 8.26a.m., 12.47a.m., 03.56p.m., and 4 p.m.

“On the same 24th December 2018, Sani Suleiman with number 08036066448 sent a WhatsApp picture of two parcels to Umar Sanda on phone number 08065499791.

“Also on the same 24th December, Suleiman sent a WhatsApp picture of two coloured luggage to phone number belonging to one Alhaji Gabari now at large.”

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Sri Lanka: Denmark’s richest man, Povlsen loses children in bombings as victims’ nationality emerges

Three of the four children of Danish billionaire, Anders Holch Povlsen on Easter holiday died in the Sri Lanka bombing attacks.

Povlsen owns the international clothing chain, Bestseller. He is also the biggest single shareholder in clothing giant, Asos, and is the UK’s largest private landowner.

“Unfortunately, we can confirm the reports,” a Bestseller spokesman said in an email to BBC.

“We ask you to respect the privacy of the family and we therefore have no further comments.”

The death toll in the Sri Lanka attacks is now at 290 and while most were Sri Lankan nationals, 36 foreign nationals are among the dead.

The international victims include: At least eight British citizens – including two with joint US citizenship; three Danish citizens; one Portuguese citizen and six Indian nationals.

Also deceased are: two engineers from Turkey; two Chinese nationals; two Australians, one person from the Netherlands and one person from Japan.

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