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Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), says he ordered the suspension of Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), in line with the inherent powers and jurisdiction of the tribunal.

Umar also said "it is left to the appellate court to determine whether or not the order was rightly or wrongly granted."

The CCT chair made the clarifications in response to a petition filed by Grace Wogor, a lawyer, that he acted beyond his legal authority in granting an order for the suspension of the CJN.

The petition was forwarded to him by the federal judicial service commission (FJSC).


"The petitioner had alleged that I granted an ex parte order directing the President to suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria, who is a defendant in a charge filed against him at the tribunal," he said.

"It is important to state that I acted within the inherent powers and jurisdiction of the Tribunal and that whether or not the order was rightly or wrongly granted is now a matter to be determined by the Court of Appeal, since the defendant appealed against the ex parte order."

Umar said the tribunal did not comply with orders by the high court in Abuja and the national industrial court (NIC) to stop Onnoghen's trial because they are courts of coordinate jurisdiction.

He maintained that the chairman and members of the CCT are not "constitutionally subject to disciplinary proceedings by either the National Judicial Council (NJC) or the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC)".

The CCT chair said only the court of appeal and the supreme court have supervisory powers over the tribunal.




The Federal Government would send a request to the National Assembly for adjustments to the 2019 budget to reflect ways of sourcing funds to pay the new national minimum wage which was approved by the Senate yesterday.


Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma said this yesterday during an engagement with the Senate Committee on Finance on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).


The minister said the government had plans to constitute a panel that would come up with ways of increasing revenues to meet up with the new minimum wage, adding that a new request is to be forwarded to the legislature in that regard.


He said the current budget size of N8.83 trillion may increase due to the adjustments to take care of the new minimum wage.



Udoma also told the Senate committee that the panel, when constituted, would be tasked with the responsibility of negotiating with workers above the minimum wage bracket with a view to easing the payment.


"It would be recalled that as a result of agitations from the unions that the President set up a tripartite committee to look at the minimum wage. Every five years, it is supposed to be reviewed. It has not been reviewed, even though there is no doubt that for both the Federal Government and states, it is a tough time to review wages.


"But the N18,000 is really too low. And it is difficult for people to manage on N18,000. So the President supported a revision, but it is important that as we are revising, we make sure that it can be funded. That is why we set up the Bismark Rewane Technical Committee.


"So we will be coming to you (National Assembly). There may be some changes may be in VAT and other things. But we will be coming to you in other to make sure that we can fund the minimum wage. Not just fund the minimum wage but as you announce it, you now enter into negotiations with those above the minimum wage and we have to be prepared for that.


"It is something we are going to work closely with the Finance Committee on how best this minimum wage will be addressed, both from the Federal Government and the states to ensure that the whole government apparatus is not just paying salaries and nothing else. It is important that we are able to pay the minimum wage and still have enough resources to do infrastructure," he said.‎‎


Also speaking during the session, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) hinted at an imminent increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) from the current five percent to about 6.75 percent and 7.25 percent.


Fowler told the committee that this is to meet up with the agency's revenue target of N8trn for 2019.


He said: "By the end of this year, we should be ready for an increase in VAT. A lot of Nigerians travel to Ghana and other West African countries and they can see that theirs is much higher. And they pay when they go for those trips. We should be ready for an increase in VAT.


"I can certainly see an increase in VAT of at least 35 percent to 50 percent this year based on our enforcement activities. There certainly will be an increase in Company Income Tax (CIT) and also on Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT)," he said.


'N30,000 wage implementable'


Meanwhile, the Senate joined the House of Representatives in approving N30,000 as the minimum wage for workers against the N27,000 proposed by the Executive arm.


The approval followed the adoption of the report of the ad hoc committee on the National Minimum Wage chaired Deputy Chief Whip Francis Alimekhena (APC, Edo).



Before the approval, some senators said they believed the new minimum wage was implementable in view of recent happenings in the states.




An Enugu-based Prophet, Anthony Nwoko, has claimed that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu collected money from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on the eve of the presidential election.

Kanu, who was propagating election boycott message changed his stand few days to the election, after he announced that an unnamed document had been signed.

Prophet Nwoko has now come out to say that the IPOB leader received cash from Atiku, the PDP presidential candidate, to call off the boycott.

Addressing a press conference in Enugu on Tuesday, Nwoko also came hard on leaders of IPOB, MASSOB, BIM and other pro-Biafran agitators, saying that they do not have the mandate of God to lead the struggle for the real freedom of the people.

He said, "It is time for Igbos to realize that they have fumbled for a long time. The agitators from the Igbo land have failed. Nnamdi Kanu with his group has failed, Uwazuruike and his group has failed, Uchenna Madu with his group has failed. Let them come and see the great light from the East who is going to offer great glory into their lives this year, 2019.

"On the part of Nnamdi Kanu, whatever money he collected from the PDP, which I saw from the revelation, let Atiku go and collect his money back.

"Forget about IPOB business with Biafra. IPOB and other groups don't have any standing to talk about Biafran nation because they are not mandated to do it.

"Nnamdi Kanu has already decided that he will not walk within Christ's mandate and for that reason, IPOB and his group should forget about the Biafran message that God has sent to his people.

"Wherever Nnamdi Kanu is, let him and his boys sheath their sword and seek peace. Many have died in the name of IPOB. Seek the light through prophet Nwoko. You will see the light before May 29th this year if you are ready to seek the face of God.

"Prophet Nwoko is using this medium to tell my people to repent for the hour has come. You want Biafra, give me seven days, I will deliver it to the whole nation. Biafra is not a hidden mandate, it is a nation that will give peace to the entire world."

On Buhari's re-election, Nwoko said, "If he thinks he is going to rule Nigeria with this kind of situation the nation is in right now, he is making a blunder. God did not accept his first four years and he has also rejected his second tenure."

The Prophet said that Nigeria was in darkness as a result of bad leadership, noting that the election which was held in the country could not guarantee peace and stability but more troubles.

"It's time for Nigerians to know that the election that was conducted was not the will of God. The time has come for the world to know the truth because the Bible says that you shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.

"Anybody thinking that Nigerian election will give them peace and happiness is on the negative side. God did not approve this election. God did not welcome Buhari again neither did he want Atiku.

"Let Atiku go to court and withdraw his case. The chapter of PDP is closed from heaven. There is nothing like PDP and APC right now in heaven.

"When the light comes, Nigeria will see peace, when the light comes, Igbo nation will see peace, when the light comes Africa and the whole world will see peace," he said.




As part of its ongoing efforts to support entrepreneurship on the continent, Google on Tuesday unveiled the Launchpad Accelerator Africa Class three.


Google's Head of Startup Success and Services, Launchpad Africa, Mr Fola Olatunji-David, said that the third class would start on April 1 and would involve 12 startups from six African countries.


He listed Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda as the countries, adding that of the12 startups, six had female co-founders and nine were either AI-enabled or had AI potential.


"These companies will join other startups in the Launchpad programme, present and past, that are using technology to create a positive impact on key industries in their region.


"We look forward to supporting and connecting them with startup ecosystems around the world," Olatunji-David said in a statement.



He added that to be accepted into Launchpad Accelerator Africa, applicants must be an early stage technology startup based in Sub-Saharan Africa, targeting the African market, that had already raised seed funding.


Olatunji-David said that Google additionally considers the problem the startup was trying to solve, how it created value for users and how it addressed a real challenge for their home city, country or Africa broadly.


He said that further that Google would look at whether the startup would share what they would learn from the programme for the benefit of other startups in their local ecosystem.


"The startups each will receive three months intense mentorship and support from Google, as well as Cloud and Firebase Credits. They will attract three weeks of all-expense-paid training at Launchpad Accelerator Africa (Lagos and Nairobi).


"Others are access to Google engineers, resources, and mentors, during and after the programme, inclusion in the Launchpad Accelerator Global Community and the network of alumni and mentors,'' he said.


Olatunji-David said Google's global accelerator programme, Launchpad Accelerator, had already enrolled seven African startups (Twiga Foods, JUMO and Paystack.


Others are: Delivery Science, Helium Health, Paylater and Aerobotics) also provided them with visibility, best-in-class mentorship and access to Google's network in Silicon Valley.


He said that 23 startups had already graduated from the first two Launchpad Accelerator Africa classes and the programme had so far helped the participating startups to create jobs and, collectively, raise millions of dollars in funding.


Olatunj-David listed the 12 startups, in alphabetical order, as: 54Gene (Nigeria), Data Integrated Limited (Kenya), Instadiet.me (Egypt), Kwara (Kenya), OkHi (Kenya), PAPS (Senegal) and ScholarX (Nigeria).


Others are: Tambua Health Inc. (Kenya), Voyc.ai (South Africa), WellaHealth (Nigeria), and Zelda Learning (South Africa).


"First announced in July 2017, Launchpad Accelerator Africa forms an important part of Google's initiatives that support the African entrepreneurial ecosystem and builds on the Launchpad programmes already run in Africa.



"It has successfully connected over 200 African mentors with several hundred African tech startup entrepreneurs through one-week bootcamps in three different African cities over the last two years,'' he said.




Aanuoluwapo is a 23-year-old graduate with a higher national diploma with an income of N30,000.

The goal is to save up enough to get a postgraduate diploma so as to bargain for a better salary at her company or a different entity.

Upon resumption at her workplace, her boss said she has to pay tax and pension. Although that would reduce her salary, she is grateful that she does not have to pay more than one percent as tax and the 7.5% she has to contribute for pension is her investment for the future.

Suddenly, she receives news that there will be yet another deduction from her salary; the National Housing Fund deduction and this is not negotiable.


For a lot of Nigerians like Aanuoluwapo, who is around the minimum wage band, the news of a compulsory deduction apart from tax and pension can be demoralising.

What Aanuoluwapo's tax will be after NHF deduction

What is the NHF about?

The new national housing bill was recently passed by the national assembly. The bill, which is now awaiting presidential assent, amends a number of provisions contained in the 1992 NHF act.

These are some of the amendments.

OLD NHF ACT NEW NHF ACT
1 The minimum income threshold for contributors is N3,000 and above per annum The minimum income threshold for contributors is N18,000 or the national minimum wage as applicable
2 No cement levy Imposes a 2.5% levy on every locally produced and imported cement
3 Contributors are to receive a 4% interest on their contributions Contributors will receive a 2% interest on contributions or as determined by the bank
4 Every commercial or merchant bank shall invest in the Fund 10 per cent of its loans and advances at an interest rate of I per cent above the interest rate payable on current accounts by banks. Every commercial bank or merchant bank shall invest 10% of its profit before tax into the fund at an interest rate of 1% above the interest rate payable on current accounts by banks
5 Every registered insurance company shall invest a minimum of 20 per cent of its non- life funds and 40 per cent of its life funds in real property development of which not less than 50 per cent shall be paid into the Fund Every registered insurance company shall invest a minimum of 10% of its profit before tax into the fund at an interest rate not exceeding 1% above the interest rate payable on current accounts by banks.
6
  • Employers who do not remit the deductions are liable to a fine of N50,000
  • Self-employed people who do not remit are liable to a fine of N5,000
  • Cement companies who do not pay the levy are liable to a fine of N100 million
  • Self-employed who do not deduct are liable to N100,000 fine
  • Employers who do not remit are liable to N5 million fineBanks and insurance companies who do not remit risk cancellation of their operating licences

Implications
  • For people earning income around the minimum wage band, the NHF contribution is 250% higher than their PAYE.
  • This might result in increased cement prices thereby increasing the cost of construction
  • The remittance channels are unclear thus worsening Nigeria's position on the ease of paying tax index
  • Cost of borrowing will increase as banks will have to invest some of their profit in the fund
  • The eventual refund at a 2% interest rate does not make provisions for the time value of money
  • The requirement for pension fund administrators to invest in the fund will result in reduced returns for pensioners.

Taiwo Oyedele, a tax partner at PwC Nigeria, described the bill as regressive.

"This bill is punishing the poorest people the most and is against the natural principle of tax justice," he said.









Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, on Wednesday, lambasted President Muhammadu Buhari.

Fani-Kayode, in a statement, lamented that the country was going through hard times under the current administration.

The former presidential spokesman, who accused Buhari of not doing enough to solve Nigeria's problems, added that, "everything has an expiry date".

He said: "When a President hardens his heart to reason and resorts to terrorising and killing his own citizens, when he is prepared to do anything, including turning a blind eye to mass murder, ethnic cleansing and genocide, in order to intimidate and subjugate the people and suppress dissent, when he brazenly rigs elections and shamelessly denies the people of their right to exercise the free and true expression of their will through the ballot box, when he locks up and persecutes opposition figures and targets their leaders, when he threatens and intimidates the Judiciary and when he emasculates the Legislature, when he muzzles the media, when he detains activists, journalists, bloggers, writers and political commentators and when he brutalises the people and treats them with contempt and disdain you know that his end is near.


"Our Pharaoh may appear to be invincible and all hope may appear to be lost but we must remember that it is at that very point that the Ancient of Days, the Lord of Hosts, the Mighty Man in Battle, the El Shaddai and the God of "suddenly" always shows up to display His awesome might and miraculous power.

"It has happened before and it will happen again. We must always remember that God is not asleep and that though the night may be dark and full of tribulations, fears and tears, joy comes in the morning.

"We must always remember that sooner or later the darkness will be lifted, our morning will come, the finger of the Lord will be unleashed, His purpose will be made manifest, His people will be delivered and His name shall be glorified.

"We must always remember that sooner or later something will give, Herod will fall and, once again, we shall marvel at the wisdom and power of our Lord and Defender.

"In the meantime, we must dig deep and find strength and courage in our faith, the power of His word, the justice of our cause and the sincerity in our unassailable and bold convictions. We must keep hope alive, stand firm and always be strong.

"It is only a matter of time before we bear witness and testimony to the greatest Red sea experience in the history of our nation. It is only a matter of time before Sennacherub will be consummed and slaughtered by his own sons at the altar of their gods.

"Everything has an expiry date, including the wickedness of the wicked, the rulership of the proud, the arrogance of the arrogant and the tyranny of bloodthirsty and evil men.

"When their cup is full and God says "it is time", the spell will be broken and they shall vanish like chaff before the wind."





The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the court order stopping the collation of pending results of the Bauchi governorship election.

The party described the order as unconstitutional, and threatened to obtain similar ones stopping the swearing in of all candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) "particularly President Muhammadu Buhari".

A federal high court in Abuja had given an ex parte order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt the collation of results from Tafawa Balewa local government area of Bauchi state.

The court gave the order while ruling on a suit filed by Mohammed Abubakar, governor of the state who is of the All Progressives Congress (APC).


Reacting via a statement, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP spokesman, accused the APC of arm-twisting the judiciary over the election which he claims his party has won.

"Our party should not be constrained into a situation in which we will have no option than to allow our members to seek similar ex parte orders to halt statutory processes including the swearing-in of APC candidates at various levels, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari," Ologbondiyan said.

"The party alerts that such development, which is akin to the infamous order that derailed the 1993 democratic process, is part of the plot by the APC and certain compromised elements in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to escalate crisis and derail our electoral process.

"The power to collate, suspend collation and or to reverse such decision based on obvious circumstances as the case in Bauchi is clearly within the domain of INEC."

The party added that until collation is completed and results declared, "no one can question the constitutional powers of INEC."

"Our party should not be constrained into a situation in which we will have no option than to allow our members to seek similar exparte orders to halt statutory processes including the swearing-in of APC candidates at various levels, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari," it said.

"It is clear that collation of result is part of the electoral process and that INEC cannot act on a purported exparte order to jettison its independence and halt the collation of results, which is a key component of its statutory electoral duty.

"Our party therefore charges INEC to be properly guided by the law in this regard."





Governor Rotimi Akeredolu says Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH), will be renamed after late Olusegun Agagu, former governor of the state.

NAN reports that Akeredolu disclosed this during a tour of Okitipupa Local Government Area of the state on Tuesday.

He urged the two newly-elected House of Assembly members representing Okitipupa 1 and 2 constituencies to move the motion for renaming the university.

According to the Governor, it is a decision that can only be taken by the House of Assemby.


He urged them to move the motion as their first assignment.

"You know we have Adekunle Ajasin University in Akungba and it won't be bad to have Olusegun Agagu University in Okitipupa.


"When we came on board, we noticed that the institution lacked infrastructure facilities, a good road network and other areas, which we looked into.

"The project would have been added to the museum of abandoned projects, hence the need for major upgrades," he said.





The National Open University, NOUN, has disclosed what former President Olusegun Obasanjo earns as a supervisor in the institution.

Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Abdalla Adamu disclosed that as a supervisor of NOUN in Abeokuta Study Centre in Ogun State, Obasanjo earns N40,000 annually.

Speaking at a Press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, Adamu also disclosed that the former President who holds PhD in Christian Theology has two students in Theological Studies attached to him.

The briefing was on the 8th convocation of NOUN, where 20,799 students will be awarded graduate and postgraduate degrees with 103 graduates finishing with first class honours.


Adamu stated that the 20,799 students for convocation were divided into 15,642 for graduate degrees and 5,157 for postgraduate degrees.

According to Adamu: "Obasanjo has two students attached to him in Theological Studies. We gave him an office in Abeokuta and the salary is N40,000 a year as a facilitator.

"The former President did his fieldwork in Borno State during the heat of the insurgency, going to collect and analyse data.

"We have another big fish that we have appointed as a facilitator and we will announce him when we have given him an appointment letter."





The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate in the just concluded governorship election in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje has dumped the party over unresolved crisis.

Agbaje had been having a running battle with PDP leaders in Lagos as they accused him of diverting money meant for campaign during the polls in Lagos.

Agbaje, in a statement said it was necessary for him to leave the party after a series of allegations that arose after the PDP lost the governorship election in Lagos.

According to him, "I have tried to remain focused and ignore all the distractions coming from the leadership of the party. I am making the decision after due consultations with my supporters and loved ones for the sake of peace."


Former PDP Chairman in the state, Chief Tunji Shelle, had accused Agbaje of being responsible for the party's poor performance in the governorship election, saying that the party had a situation where somebody said he could work and achieve victory alone, yet knowing nothing.

According to Shelle, rather than show cooperation, Agbaje was arguing and fighting people who could help him, adding that even when things were going bad and help was to be rendered, he said he did not need help.

"Well-meaning people intervened to rally everybody together in Lagos. They called us to a meeting and asked us to help him but he refused, saying he doesn't need help. He became a lone ranger and stand-alone person. Even when we were trying to reinforce his campaign team, he told us point blank that he couldn't work with people he can't control. He wants to be a master of all and subject everybody in the party under his control which is not possible. You can't control everybody because PDP is not your private party," he said.

"So, we decided to leave him to go and do the job alone and at the end of the day, that is the result we got in Lagos. That is the major reason why PDP failed in Lagos."

"If not for the sympathy votes we got from people who are tired of APC and felt there is need for leadership change in Lagos state, we could have gotten lesser votes in the governorship election. To be frank, our governorship candidate was our problem in Lagos state."

"He defeated the party and defeated himself. The most unfortunate thing is that he doesn't feel the pain of what he has caused. Also, there was mismanagement of resources too because everybody left him to his fate to do whatever pleases him," Shelle stated.




The dollar was on the defensive on Tuesday, weighed by growing expectations the Federal Reserve would adopt a more accommodative policy outlook this week and concerns about slower U.S. economic growth.


The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, dipped 0.1 per cent to 96.43, hovering close to a two-week low touched overnight.


The index has lost 1.3 per cent after hitting a three-month high of 97.710 on March 7, on views the Federal will strike a dovish tone at its two-day policy meeting due to start later on Tuesday.


Many investors expect the Fed to keep its benchmark overnight interest rate unchanged and stick to its pledge of a "patient" approach to monetary policy.



"Around 30 per cent of market participants are expecting a rate cut this year," said Kumiko Ishikawa, senior analyst at Sony Financial Holdings.


"The focus is on the extent to which the Fed is able to take that into account without shocking the market," she added.


Federal funds futures last priced in about 30 per cent chance of a rate cut in 2019, compared with almost zero percent seen earlier this month.


Masafumi Yamamoto, the chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities, said while the market is expecting more accommodative sentiments from the meeting, equity markets were unlikely to react positively to such a development.


"If the Fed really shows a gloomy outlook for growth and rates, then it's also a negative for U.S. equities. Then that will be a negative for the dollar," Yamamoto said.


"There is a high risk that whichever the outcome is, it will push down dollar and yen."


As the dollar took a breather, other major currencies advanced by default. The yen rose 0.2 per cent to 111.20 yen per dollar, extending its gains to a third session.


Sterling also gained, rising almost one-fifth of a per cent to 1.3274 dollars. It had seesawed overnight after the speaker of Britain's parliament said Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal could not be voted on again unless a different proposal was submitted.


The Bank of England is expected to leave its interest rate outlook unchanged at a policy meeting on Thursday due to the deep uncertainty over Britain's decision to leave the European Union.


The euro was slightly higher at 1.1344 dollars.


Investors' focus on Tuesday was also on Germany's ZEW economic index for March, due for release around 1000 GMT.


The German economy, Europe's largest, barely avoided recession in the final quarter of last year, as the negative impact from global trade disputes and Brexit weighed on a decade of expansion.


"The ZEW expectation index has been improving for four consecutive months," said Mizuho's Yamamoto.


"If another month's improvement is shown, then I think that will be quite positive for the euro."



(Reuters/NAN)



Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, has said that the Federal Government was considering increasing Value Added Tax, to enable it fund the new national minimum wage.

Udoma stated this on Tuesday while appearing before the Senate Committee on Finance.

The Minister also told the panel headed by Senator John Owan-Enoh, that the Technical Advisory Committee on the minimum wage, will submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari this week.

He said, "The current minimum wage of N18,000 is really too low. It is difficult for workers to manage on that amount.

"The President supported a review, but it is important that as we are revising it, we should be able to fund it.

"It is in the light of this that we would be coming to you (Senate) because there may be the need to make some changes, especially the VAT, in order to fund the minimum wage once it is announced."


The Senate on the same day, approved N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.

This decision was reached after the upper chamber's ad-hoc committee on new minimum wage headed by Senator Francis Alimikhena, submitted its report.



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