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Suspicion grows as PenCom refuses to disclose bank statements to lawmakers

Lawmakers have accused PenCom of refusing to provide its statement of account to aid the investigation into the alleged withdrawal of N33 billion from PenCom’s account.

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PenCom, unremitted pensions, Lagos State Pension Commission, LASPEC, Pension Fund Assets, PFAs make N1.69 trillion ROI  

The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has again failed to provide the statement of its accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee investigating the alleged withdrawal of N33 billion from the commission’s account.

investigating the activities of the National Pension Commission

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The committee had written to PenCom several times – During a hearing of the committee in Abuja, yesterday, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Johnson Agbonayinma, said that the committee had written to PenCom several times, requesting for various documents to assist with the tracking of the missing funds but all to no avail.

“We have written several letters…’submit your bank statement and all transactions with CBN.’ Up till now (no response). Every request that we have made, they are just manoeuvring. Is there anything else you want us to do to get your attention to submit it? Look at the CBN, everything we requested they have submitted.”

Another issue was the number of accounts the commission has

The issue became a mystery when there was a difference of opinion between CBN and PenCom on how many accounts PenCom operated on.

Disagreement over the number of accounts – The Central Bank of Nigeria said PenCom has five accounts, while the Head of PenCom‘s Contributory Bond and Redemption Department, Mr. Lana Loyinmi, who stood in for the the Acting Director-General, Aisha Dahir-Umar, said “I think it is about three.”

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However, after further questioning, Loyinmi said “I don’t know the exact number.” According to him, the information could be provided by PenCom’s Director of Finance, who was unfortunately absent at the hearing.

Agbonayinma’s response to PenCom’s indecisiveness 

As expected, Agbonayinma was not happy with the inconsistencies. He said:

“We have the CBN here. We asked them and they told us the number. During the last public hearing, the Acting DG also specified it. In her submission, she told us they had one but the CBN came and told us that you have five accounts. You (Loyinmi) said they are three; if you don’t know, you don’t know. Don’t assume. If you are here to represent the Acting DG and you don’t know how many accounts PenCom operates with CBN, there is a problem.”

The aim of the investigation – Agbonnayinma, said that the aim of the investigation was to correct the wrongs in the commission and to move the nation forward saying that it was not about a witch-hunt.

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Real Estate and Construction

Tax on rents and Certificate of Occupancy is valid – Akabueze

FIRS had announced that stamp duty will be paid on house rent and C of O.

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FIRS boss wants to tax street traders, artisans, others, FIRS tighten noose on deduction of stamp duty, CIT, others, FIRS issues taxpayers deadline to obtain Tax Identification Number, Nami targets N4 trillion from oil & gas to meet President Buhari's unusual target, FIRS set to deploy new technology in tax collection, as MDAs refuse to pay 7.5% tax

The Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, announced that the recent FIRS taxes on Certificate of Occupancy and rents is not new and has been around since the 1980s.

He disclosed this in the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF&FSP) on Friday, adding that ever since the 80s, his landlord had always given him a postage stamp on his rent receipts, and that the law was not just recognized for a long time.

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“Over time, because the culture of postage has dropped off and that was not being implemented. What FIRS has done now is to make that into electronic stamp that you can still use to comply with the existing law,” Akabueze said.

Last week, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) announced that stamp duty will be paid on house rent and Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), in line with its new adhesive duty. The new duty was inaugurated in Abuja at the official inauguration of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Audit and Recovery of Back Years Stamp Duties.

FIRS Director for Communication and Liaison Department, Mr Abdullahi Ahmad, said the new policy was necessary so as to give the instruments the legal backing required and make them legally binding on all parties involved in such transactions.

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Consequently, Ahmad asked Nigerians to ensure that documents that related to rent and lease agreements for homes or offices, C of O, and other common business-related transaction instruments were authenticated with the new FIRS Adhesive Stamp Duty.

He also advised Nigerians to make sure that any document related to leasing agreements and rents related to offices and homes, including C of O and other transaction instruments used in these seals were authenticated with the new FIRS Adhesive Stamp Duty.

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Coronavirus

Port-Harcourt International airport resumes flight operations

The first flight to Port Harcourt was conducted by Air Peace 5N EUV from Lagos.

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FAAN reacts to release of guideline for resumption of flight operations post covid-19, FAAN releases new guidelines for post covid-19 flight operations

The Port Harcourt International Airport formally resumed flight operations on Saturday, July 11, with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), restating its commitment towards a zero coronavirus transmission.

This was disclosed by the Regional Manager South-South and South-East of FAAN, Abayomi Akinbinu, on Saturday, July 11, during the arrival of the first flight after 3 months of shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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The first flight, which was conducted by Air Peace 5N EUV from Lagos, arrived Port-Harcourt International Airport terminal at 7.50 am.

He said the Port-Harcourt airport management was ready to ensure zero chances of the coronavirus transmission with the management giving no room for default of the COVID-19 safety guidelines by regulatory authorities as flight operations resume at the airport.

He frowned at the non-adherence to physical distancing rule, while also commending safety compliance level by service providers and passengers at the airport.

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According to Abayomi, “Our markings of 1.5 metres apart are visibly on the floor, but maybe because of excitement it’s not being properly followed; so we need to make quick enforcement in that regard.”

He said although there was low turnout of passengers, he expected a gradual increase in the coming days.

He said, “On the departure section, we are gradually getting more passengers and I believe that going forward passengers’ turnout is going to increase. My message to prospective passengers is that the Port Harcourt International Airport terminal is safe.”

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On his own part, the Head of Aviation Medical Clinic of the airport, Dr Nuhu Mwabi, said that the Port Health is seriously conducting mandatory temperature checks on both service providers and passengers before allowing them into the airport terminal building.

Nuhu said, “This is because we want to fish out persons with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius and above, so that we can isolate such individual. Our cardinal objective is to ensure that we contain the spread of COVID-19 as well as other communicable diseases within the airport.”

He added that the World Health Organization and the various medical teams were ready to professionally handle any suspected case, should the need arise.

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It can be recalled that the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had last week announced the resumption schedule for flight operations for the various airports across the country. The Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport resumed flight operations on July 8.

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Coronavirus

Lagos Govt Seals Acouns Medical Lab for conducting illegal COVID-19 tests

The lab conducted COVID-19 tests without required government approval.

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The Lagos State Ministry of Health has sealed a private medical laboratory that was conducting illegal COVID-19 tests inside a pharmacy at Banana Island in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The ministry stated that the laboratory, Acouns Medical Laboratory and Diagnostic Centre, conducted COVID-19 tests without required government approval.

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According to a NAN report, the laboratory was sealed on Friday, July 10 by one of the agencies of the Ministry of Health – Health Facility Monitoring Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA).

The ministry warned in its Saturday morning tweet, that such health facilities posed a danger to their communities and staff, and discouraged residents from patronising facilities that had not been duly accredited for such purposes.

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“It is illegal to manage COVID-19 cases outside of an accredited facility. We implore the public not to go for tests or treatment in a private facility that has not been accredited by government.

“It is dangerous and it might put you at more risk,” it said.

The ministry promised to ensure that health facilities in the state adhered strictly to the standards put in place, and urged residents to cooperate with the authorities.

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Recall that a few weeks ago, the Lagos State government announced it has added Seven Private Laboratories into its testing strategy to expand capacity in Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Lagos state has, through its accredited health facilities, conducted over 45,000 COVID-19 tests, with over 7000 confirmed cases from the number.

The ministry had also recently announced the private health facilities accredited for the purpose of COVID-19 testing.

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