The leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Kaduna State Correctional Centre where they are both being held, according to multiple news reports. El-Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention since 2015 after some of his followers clashed with soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna. The IMN leader is standing trial over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of the public peace, among other charges. In a statement on Thursday, Mohammed, son of the IMN leader, said Zeenat has not been evacuated to an isolation centre for treatment despite informing authorities at the correctional centre of her status. The London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) appealed to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday to release the Muslim cleric and his wife in light of their COVID-19 diagnosis. The IHRC has also written to the United Nations asking the international body to exert pressure on Nigeria to do the same. Mohammed El-Zakzaky has said his mother’s COVID-19 positive status is being used as an “assassination tool” by the government.
President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated ministries, departments, agencies and business enterprises to grant access to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to their systems for the purposes of national tax collection. A statement from the FIRS on Thursday said President Buhari issued the mandate while delivering his address as the Special Guest of Honour at the First Annual National Tax Dialogue organized by the FIRS at the old Banquet Hall, Aso Rock Villa, Abuja. The President was said to have also mandated the FIRS to “speedily put all measures in place to fully implement programmes to stamp out Base Erosion and Profit Shifting in all of its ramifications and generally automate its tax processes.” According to the President, “I have directed all government agencies and business enterprises to grant FIRS access to their systems for a seamless connection. We all are now living in a fast digitalising world.” He added that “business transactions are continually being migrated from “brick and mortar” locations to digital places or spaces. It is therefore incumbent upon tax authorities to adopt digital means to efficiently track taxable transactions for the purpose of collecting taxes”. In her opening remarks at the Dialogue, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said tax compliance was key to national prosperity, stressing that the government was determined to minimise the incidence of tax dodging through such leakages as cross-border transactions by deploying the technology.
A total of 127 soldiers are exiting the Nigerian Army despite the worsening security challenges the military is currently combating in some parts of the country. The soldiers, drawn from various formations of the army across the country, are all of the junior cadres who are mostly at the forefront in the field. The military personnel, comprising one Master Warrant Officer, three Warrant Officers, 22 Staff Sergeants, 29 Sergeants, 64 Corporals, seven Lance Corporals and one Private, will disengage in May, Premium Times reported citing an internal memo. The exit of the soldiers who have neither attained retirement age nor mandatory years of service is coming right in the middle of a multitude of security crises facing Nigeria. Their resignation is coming after a larger number of their colleagues quit en masse last July, a development which insiders in the military said was indicative of low morale in the force. Recently, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, a retired major general, said the military was understaffed and underfunded to tackle the various security challenges facing the country.
U.S. President, Joe Biden has signed some executive orders thereby lifting the immigrant visa ban placed on Nigerians by his predecessor Donald Trump. According to Bloomberg, Biden also reversed the systemic ban placed on citizens from Muslim dominated countries like Yemen. Trump had last February placed an immigrant visa ban on Nigeria, citing Nigeria’s lack of a robust database. The American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary-Beth Leonard, stated at the time that Nigeria must improve on its data intelligence to ease the investigation of its citizens wishing to migrate to the US, if it wants the ban lifted. The Nigerian government subsequently set up a committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonisation to address the complaints of the U.S. which led to the recent push for all Nigerians to register with the National Identity Management Commission and obtain a National Identity Number. With Biden’s reversal of Trump’s order, Nigerians will now be able to apply for green cards. Biden on Wednesday began reversing Trump’s immigration policies, part of an aggressive push to roll back some of the most controversial actions of his predecessor and chart a new course.