Below are the headlines found on The Guardian Online Newspaper for today, Monday, 5th February, 2018.

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
It was confusion yesterday as former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, allegedly disowned a statement in which his aide Kassim Afegbua quoted him as asking President Muhammadu Buhari to drop his re-election bid over some negative realities in the polity. The news was already spreading rapidly and reactions were being filed into media outfits when another statement in which Babangida allegedly disowned Afegbua’s statement was issued. And as newsmen were pondering how to report the development, news also filtered in that Afegbua stood by his statement and dismissed the alleged refutal by his boss. Afegbua appeared on Sunday Politics of Channels Television to say that his boss Babangida authorised the statement.

In the alleged statement of denial, Babangida said: "My attention has been drawn to a press statement on the state of the nation, particularly 2019 general elections and beyond. "Let me categorically state that as a former president and statesman, I have unfettered channel of communication with the highest authorities without sensational public correspondence. Therefore, those views expressed over there are personal views of the writer.

"However, with due respect to individual opinion and constitutional rights, it is worrisome that political events and civil unrest in many parts of the country have raised many questions on the governance and unity. Indeed, 2018 is inundated with seasons of literatures on the corporate existence of this country. Many of such literatures have shown concerns about the corporate existence of Nigeria beyond 2019 general elections."

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
Another $202 million belonging to the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) could be missing as the House of Representatives claims the amount is yet to be accounted for.According to the House Committee on Public Safety and National Intelligence probing into NIA’s missing funds, the $202 million was released to the NIA as an intervention fund in the twilight of the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan-led administration. 

The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Aminu Sani Jaji, who briefed reporters after members of his panel held a closed-door session with both the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd) and the newly appointed Director General of the NIA, Ahmed Abubakar, said contrary to a widely held notion, the $44 million found in the NIA’s vault was not missing.

Jaji, who maintained that the entire $289 million released to the NIA was not appropriated by the National Assembly, said investigations revealed that the funds must have been safely kept in an undisclosed location, pending the resolution of the issues surrounding the agency.“This $44 million is part of the $289 million approved to the then DG, Ayodele Oke. In April last year, there was the issue of $43 million found in Ikoyi. He tried to say that the $44 million and the $43 million were part of the $289 million. 

“But for us, we are still working to see where the remaining $202 million was placed. We only know about the $43 million recovered in Ikoyi and the $44 million recovered from their vault. In the course of our investigation, we’ll come up with where the $289 million really is, not only the $43 million and not the $44 million.

“NIA got the money in the name of intervention. But since they said it was an intervention, maybe for whatever reason, Oke failed to disclose the amount to the present administration.  Even the NSA was saying it was when this committee started working that he got to know that NIA was given $289 million.

“For me, $202 million is still missing. The money in question is $289m, and all what the former DG is trying to say is that the $43 million and the $44 million are part of the $289 million. If you subtract $43 million and $44 million, where is the balance? That’s why we have to intensify the investigation,” Jaji said.

On the committee’s findings on the eligibility of Abubakar to become the DG of the agency, Jaji said his appointment was in line with due process.“We tried to find out from the DG and some staff working in the agency, and there was no protest. For me, it’s just something anonymous.

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“The circumstances surrounding his appointment were discussed. Some are saying he has dual citizenship, but he said to us categorically that his father was from Katsina and he (his father) after sometime decided to migrate from Katsina to Chad. His mother is a Nigerian, and his wife too is a Nigerian,” the lawmaker said.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly has announced putting the N1.5 billion 2018 budget for the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) under serious scrutiny.The joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives which is processing the commission’s budget said although the agency did well in the implementation of the 2017 budget, there were issues in the 2018 fiscal plan that required a thorough scrutiny before approval is given.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, noted that the decision to scrutinise the commission’s budget was in line with the directive from the National Assembly’s leadership to block all economic leakages.

NAHCOM had presented to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs its 2018 appropriation proposal of N1,559,818,216.The Executive Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar, put the total recurrent expenditure comprising personnel cost and overhead cost at N962, 073,096. The personnel cost is N344, 728,181 while the overhead is N617, 344,915.

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
Fresh widespread opposition may await the Lagos Government’s newly passed bill on land Use Charge policy, if indications emerging from the sector’s major players are anything to go by.The proposed law, which repealed the Land Use Charge Law 2001 and enacted Land Use Charge 2017 and For Connected Purposes, aimed at increasing the revenue generation base of the state by bringing more houses into its net.

The 27-section bill harmonised Land Rates Law, Neighbourhood Improvement Charge Law and Tenement Rates Law. The bill, if passed into law, will end all other rates on land except the Land Use Charge.Already passed by the Lagos State’s House of Assembly and awaiting the governor’s assent, the proposed law has stirred up the hornet’s nest following some provisions; stakeholders consider unfair to property owners.

Titled: “A Bill for a Law to Provide for the Consolidation of Property and Land Based Charges and Make Provisions for the Levying and Collection of Land Use Charge in Lagos State and for Connected Purposes”,

Under the bill, “ the annual amount of the Land Use Charge payable for any Property shall be arrived at by multiplying the market value of the property by the applicable relief rate and annual charge rate, using the prescribed formular.“The land value and building value rates constituting the market value of the property shall be reviewed at least once every five years on the basis of information available to professional valuers, and may vary from area to area.

According to the bill, the Land Use Charge will be payable in respect of property that is not exempted under Section 12 of the law.Some of the properties exempted from the proposed law include property owned and occupied by a religious body and used exclusively as a place of worship or religious education.Also exempted are public cemeteries and burial grounds as well as property used as a registered educational institution certified by the commissioner to be non-profit making.

In addition, the proposed law exempts any property specifically exempted by the Executive Governor by notice published in the State Official Gazette and all palaces of recognised Obas and Chiefs in the state.However, the law made it clear that an exempted property shall become liable for Land Use Charge if the use of such property changes to one that does not qualify for exemption.

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
The Federal Government has reiterated its warnings to Nigerians who evade tax under the offshore tax shelter system, saying such regime is over going by the ongoing reforms.

It however, advised users of offshore structures to take advantage of the ongoing Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to regularise their taxes before the expiration of the amnesty programme.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who gave the warning, affirmed that Nigeria had written to a number of nations to request specific information about offshore trusts and bank accounts held by its citizens.

“The offshore tax shelter system is basically over. Those who have hidden money overseas are being exposed and whilst Nigerians can legally keep their money anywhere in the world, they must first pay any taxes due to the Nigerian Government so that we can fund the needs of the masses and create jobs and wealth for our people.

“The moral argument against illicit financial flows and tax evasion and the strong international co-operation are such that every Nigerian tax payer should do the right thing.“The needs of our people for development override any other argument against payment of tax,” she stated.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has begun the data-sharing scheme with some countries, including the United Kingdom, in its avowed strategy discover hidden taxable assets and increase non-oil revenue.

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The move, under the Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AETI), particularly aimed at overseas assets held by Nigerians, would complement the ongoing VAIDS programme.Adeosun confirmed this at the weekend, in Abuja, during the presentation of Progress Report on Tax Laws Reform by the Vice Chairman of the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee (NTPIC), Taiwo Oyedele.

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
The embattled former chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Pension Reform, Abdulrasheed Maina, has sued the Chairman of the Economic and. Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Mustafa Magu and the EFCC over allegation of defamation of character.
In the suit dated January 15, 2018 by his counsel, Mr. James Onyilo, before a High Court of Justice, Lafia, Maina accused Magu of granting press interview which are slanderous, untrue and malicious.

In the writ of summons, Maina’s counsel asked the court for a declaration that the press interview granted Magu on November 30 and December 14, 2017 are defamatory, slanderous, untrue, injurious and intended to lower the reputation and integrity of the plaintiff in the estimation of right thinking members of the society and brought him to public ridicule, odium, contempt and derision.

He also asked the court to order the defendants to retract and publish an unreserved apology to the plaintiff in at least three daily newspapers within seven days from the day of the judgement.He wants the court to restrain the EFCC boss from making comments considered defamatory of the plaintiff.He asked for an order directing the defendants to pay jointly and severally, the sum of N10 billion ‎as damages for the publications.

In the statement of claim, Onyilo said, “the 1st defendant. (Magu) who has a personal score and vendetta to settle with the plaintiff using the instrumentality of the 2nd defendant

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
The Lagos State government has advised youths in the state to embrace vocational education as a tool of economic emancipation. The call was made at the weekend by the Special Adviser to Ambode on Social Development, Mrs. Joyce Onafowokan during the graduation of 40 youths trained by Ikeja Electric (IE). 

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
Former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has disclosed that the party has the potentials to take over the presidency in the forthcoming general election.He also solicited for the support of party members .... 

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
The paramount ruler of Tiv nation, Professor James Ayatse, has condemned the killing of seven travellers in Gboko town by a suspected mob, saying the perpetrators were enemies of his people. He stated that they had no mandate of the seventh largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria. 

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
The Association of Bureaux de change (BDCs) Operators of Nigeria (ABUCON) called its 3,500 CBN-licensed members to an emergency meeting the other day and complained about low transaction margin as it revealed that BDCs buy forex from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, at N358/$1 but are required to sell at N360/$1. 

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
While, Nigerians joined the world on February 4 to mark this year's World Cancer Day, the hydra-headed challenges that have long beset the disease in terms of adequate treatment continues to linger. 

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
The Court of Appeal in Abuja will on February 8 hear a suit between the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Senator Buruji Kashamu.The Federal Government is seeking to extradite the lawmaker to the United States of America (USA) to answer criminal charges on drug-related offences. 

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
A Start-Up is simply a new business venture set in motion. According to Dave McClure of 500 Start-Ups; 'a 'Start-Up' is a company that is confused about what its product is, who its customers are and how to make money. 

Mon, 05 Feb 2018
A global rating agency- Fitch Ratings, in its latest report, has upgraded Access Bank's National Long-Term Rating to 'A+ from 'A and at the same time affirmed the bank's Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'B'. 
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