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Court strikes out MTN Nigeria’s suit against AGF, as FIRS, Customs take over tax probe

The Federal High Court has struck out MTN Nigeria’s lawsuit against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

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Court strikes out MTN Nigeria's suit against AGF, as FIRS, Customs take over tax probe

The Federal High Court has struck out MTN Nigeria‘s lawsuit against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. Justice C.J. Aneke had made the ruling a year and months after the telecommunications company instituted the case citing abuse of power.

The case was struck out after MTN Nigeria notified the court of its intention to drop the case following an out of court settlement between both parties. In November 2019, MTN Nigeria instituted a lawsuit against the AGF after the AGF demanded the sum of N242 billion and $1.2 billion for import duties, withholding and value-added taxes.

$9bn, P&ID, $9.6 billion award: UK Court grants Nigeria stay of execution, requests $200 million payment 

Abubakar Malami, SAN

MTN Nigeria had argued then that Malami acted beyond his powers and violated the provisions of Section 36 of the constitution on fair hearing with “the purported revenue assets investigation” he carried out on the firm’s activities covering 2007 to 2017.

However, on January 11, 2020, Nairametrics reported that MTN planned to drop its N3 billion lawsuit. MTN Nigeria’s withdrawal was cited in court by Habibat Ajana, the counsel for the AGF. This led to Malami informing the court that he had reviewed the issue and had decided to withdraw the demand letter for $2 billion tax.

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FIRS and Customs taking over: With the AGF dropping its demand from MTN, the issue is expected to be transferred to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigeria Customs Service as directed by the office of the Attorney General.

This is expected to eliminate the abuse of power by the AGF as MTN Nigeria will now engage with the FIRS and Customs to resolve the alleged indebtedness of MTN Nigeria.

[READ MORE: MTN plans to invest additional $1.6 billion to consolidate on Nigerian operation)

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MTN meets with Pres. Buhari: Weeks after the report that the network provider was withdrawing its legal action against the AGF, MTN Group Limited’s Chairman, Mcebisi Jonas, visited President Muhammadu Buhari.

Pictures shared from the visit showed that Ferdinand Moolman, the CEO of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, as well as Ernest Ndukwe, the Chairman of MTN Nigeria, were among the MTN delegates. The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission, Garba Danbatta, was also present with the Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami.

While receiving the MTN delegates, President Buhari was said to have thanked them for the courtesy call. He also urged MTN to align itself with Nigeria’s digital economy policy and strategy.

Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

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#EndSARS: CACOVID earmarks over N250 billion to rebuild police stations and create jobs

CACOVID has budgeted nothing less than N250 billion to rehabilitate damaged police stations across the country and solve the issue of unemployment.

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Over N27 billion received, what has CACOVID been up to?

The Coalition Alliance Against COVID (CACOVID) has budgeted nothing less than N250 billion to rehabilitate damaged police stations across the country and solve the issue of unemployment.

This is in response to the post-EndSARS violence which led to the loss of lives and valuable property last October.

This is according to a recent press release by the CBN, and seen by Nairametrics. The latest action is sequel to series of decisions reached at the stakeholders’ engagement under the CACOVID, which is aimed at developing measures that will support the government’s effort in rebuilding confidence in the nation’s economy.

What you should know

• In a bid to further strengthen the security apparatus in the country, CACOVID has committed to providing over N100 billion to procure equipment and gadgets for the Nigerian Police Force over the next 2 years.

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• It also earmarked the sum of over N150 billion to set up and implement the Youth Development Programme which will be available at selected training centres across the country. The programme is expected to provide vocational and technical education for at least 4 million Nigerian youths over the next 5 years, with beneficiaries getting trained on craftwork, plumbing, masonry, carpentry, and other artisanal related skills for which sufficient demand exist in Nigeria.

(READ MORE: COVID-19 Palliatives: CACOVID donation is 95% complete – PTF)

  • The selected student/beneficiaries will be eligible to access a N25 billion fund domiciled to support the entrepreneurial drive of the beneficiaries
  • For the out-of-school graduates that possess certain Entrepreneurial skills, CACOVID will be working with Bankers Committee to complete the Creative center at National Arts Theater area of Lagos in four select areas namely; ICT and software design/development, Fashion, Music and Movies. This project is expected to cost the Bankers Committee over N40 Billion.

Other key resolutions of the Alliance include;

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  • Banks and financial institutions would be required to extend relief through concessionary loans to affected businesses and firms, so they can rebuild and restock their stores and continue to conduct their business activities
  • CACOVID has committed to fully rehabilitate all 44 damaged and destroyed police stations nationwide in a bid to restore provision of security in affected locations.

Why it matters

The response is a way of complementing the Federal Government’s effort of rebuilding the economy which has been badly affected by the pandemic and violent demonstrations. As a way of forestalling future occurrences, CACOVID highlighted unemployment as a key issue that ought to be addressed, in lieu of that, a Youth Development Fund which is aimed at advancing entrepreneurship in the country, is mooted.

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Covid-19: African Union in talks with China and Russia over vaccine

The AU and Africa CDC have revealed that they have reached out to both China and Russia over the possibility of vaccine partnerships.

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Covid-19: African Union in talks with China and Russia over vaccine

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union announced they have been in talks with China and Russia over the possibility of vaccine partnerships to ensure that Africa is not left behind when vaccines become available.

This was disclosed by John Nkengasong, Africa CDC Chief, at the Bloomberg Invest Africa online conference.

READ: Covid-19: Pfizer to file for emergency authorization for its vaccine, reaches safety milestone

Mr. Nkengasong said that Africa would not limit itself to only one vaccine partner and that Africa was willing to work with as many partners as possible to provide a vaccine for its 1.2 billion people.

“We are not limiting ourselves to any particular partner. As a continent of 1.2 billion people, we are willing to work with any partner who adheres to our strategic plan for vaccine development and access in Africa.

“The continent is taking the access and development of vaccine very, very seriously. We really need to see clinical trials being done on the continent, so they address issues like background infections from other diseases.”
He disclosed that the Africa CDC resumed talks last week with China, to discuss partnerships with Chinese Drug Manufacturers and also clinical trials in Africa. He added that Russia has been approached with a similar plan.

He said that the WHO Covax programme only covers 20% of the population, but Africa will need 60% of its population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

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There are multiple avenues being explored now to make sure Africa has the appropriate doses of vaccines and also that we have that in a timely fashion, not in a delayed manner,” Nkengasong said.

He revealed that the AFREXIM Bank agreed to finance vaccine procurement with $5 billion and is waiting to see how much it will receive from World Bank’s $12 billion vaccine procurement fund for developing nations.

READ: COVID-19: G-20 to extend debt relief to developing nations

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What you should know 

Nairametrics reported earlier this month that Pfizer Inc. disclosed that its experimental vaccine, which is jointly developed with BioNTech, was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on initial data from a large study in the ongoing phase 3 trials.

(READ MORE: COVID-19: AstraZeneca vaccine could be 90% effective against the virus)

Last week, a pharmaceutical company, Moderna Inc., stated that its COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective in treating coronavirus, after preliminary analysis of a large late-stage clinical trial.

The G-20 nations also announced a pledge to pay for vaccine distribution to developing nations that could not afford it. The leaders also unveiled a debt extension programme to developing nations during the weekend’s G-20 summit.

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The Federal Government of Nigeria also announced through the Ministry of Health, that it would inaugurate an 18-man Covid-19 Vaccine Task Team, in a bid to ensure vaccine security In Nigeria.

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Covid-19: EU considers skipping vaccine patents to boost vaccine access

The EU has disclosed plans to increase its access to Covid-19 vaccines by offering financial incentives to vaccine production companies.

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AstraZeneca suspends COVID-19 vaccine final stage trial over safety concerns, COVID-19: J&J starts vaccine trials on humans after success on monkeys

The European Union (EU) says its planning emergency measures to increase its access to Covid-19 vaccines including sidestepping patent rights and offering financial incentives to vaccine production companies to move production to Europe.

This was revealed in an EU document on Wednesday and reported by Reuters. The Document says the EU may create an emergency coordination mechanism to be issued at short notice when the EU needs a vaccine license, which is different from fully patent waivers, discussed in the WTO last week.

READ: COVID-19: EU to buy up to 300million doses of BioNTech-Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

The EU says the new move will ensure faster procedures during a pandemic, which will enable generic production in the EU without the consent of patent holders.

The Commission sees the need to ensure that effective systems for issuing compulsory licenses are in place, to be used as a means of last resort and a safety net, when all other efforts to make IP (intellectual property) available have failed,” the EU’s document said.

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READ: COVID-19 boosts Fidson Healthcare Plc’s Q2 2020 performance

The EU’s actions may be triggered by its inability to access the antiviral drug, remdesivir, during the pandemic, as the United States ordered most of the stock.

READ: U.S dollar drops, Currency traders fear increasing COVID-19 caseloads

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The EU also disclosed that it will begin a consultation process with pharmaceutical companies next year to address issues in its pharmaceutical value chains. They added that measures could be imposed to encourage manufacturers to move pharmaceutical production to Europe from China and India.

“The Commission calls on member states to ensure that the tools they have are as effective as possible; for instance, by putting in place fast-track procedures for issuing compulsory licenses in emergency situations,” the EU said.

READ: COVID-19: Vaccine Alliance says vaccine might cost a maximum of $40 per dose

They added that it is urgent “to assess whether manufacturing capacity for certain critical medicines may be required in the EU.”

“We need to be able to rely on ourselves, not on others,” the Commission’s Vice President, Margaritis Schinas said. He disclosed that the EU is working on more compliance with drug supply need and increased stock levels by 2022.

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What you should know

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This comes as surprise considering the EU rejected a World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal last week to waive the intellectual property rights needed for the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines. The waiver would have made the vaccine access cheaper for developing nations.

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