A bill seeking to empower the state government to collect value-added tax (VAT) has scaled the first and second reading at the Lagos State House of Assembly. The legislators directed the committee on finance which is handling the bill to report back on Thursday. During the session on Monday, house speaker Mudashiru Obasa said the VAT bill would lead to an increase in revenue and infrastructure development. On 19 August, Rivers governor Nyesom Wike signed into law a value-added tax (VAT) collection bill in the state. A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had issued an order restraining the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from collecting VAT and personal income tax and directing the Rivers state government to collect those taxes. Obasa urged the Lagos state government to do everything legally possible to ensure the judgement of the court in Port Harcourt is sustained up to the Supreme Court. He lamented that despite generating about ₦500 billion annually in VAT, Lagos received paltry amounts from the FG. “It is an opportunity for us to emphasise again on the need for the consideration of true federalism,” he added. According to Obasa, the VAT bill, when signed into law, will help the state tackle challenges in various sectors. The court judgment prompted the FIRS to file a stay of execution, appeal the judgement and advised the public to maintain the status quo on tax payment. On Monday, the Rivers state government announced that the court dismissed the FIRS’s stay of execution application.  The state government said the court ruled that “granting the FIRS application for a stay of execution would negate the principle of equity.” Apart from Rivers, Lagos had directed the FIRS to stop issuing demand notices for payment of VAT and to render accounts, within seven days, of all sums collected as VAT in the current accounting cycle in the state. Meanwhile, the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, dismissed a suit by the FIRS seeking to stop the Rivers State Government from commencing collection of VAT. The FIRS had approached the court seeking a Stay of Execution on the earlier judgement of the court that stopped FIRS from collecting VAT as it was constitutionally the role of state governments, but Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam said granting the application would negate the principle of equity. He noted that in as much as the state government and the state legislature has enacted a law in respect of the VAT that courts were bound to obey laws. The judge said law remained valid until it has been set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction, adding that the law enacted by the Rivers State legislature remained valid. The FIRS has vowed to continue VAT collections until the appeal court decides on the legal dispute.

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Dr Ifedayo Morayo Adetifa as the new Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu announced the appointment of Adetifa on Monday. Adetifa will take over from Chikwe Ihekweazu, who has been given an appointment at the World Health Organisation (WHO). Ihekweazu was appointed the assistant director-general in charge of health emergency intelligence at the global health organisation last week and will manage its pandemic and epidemic response hub in Berlin. Buhari had appointed Ihekweazu in August 2016. The new NCDC DG is a member of the new health sector reform committee set up by the president on Monday, which will be chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. Adetifa bagged his first degree from the University of Ilorin. He completed his residency training in Paediatrics at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, and studied for the MSc in Epidemiology at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He also obtained his my PhD in Epidemiology from the same institution. He is currently an associate professor and clinical epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The Nigerian Communications Commission has proposed a fine of ₦200,000 for mobile communications services providers that fail to verify and validate biometric, National Identity numbers and other personal information of each subscriber to their services. This was contained in a proposed draft regulation on registration of telephone subscribers recently published on NCC’s website. The draft document read, “A licensee who fails to verify and validate biometric, NIN and other personal information before activation is liable to a penalty of ₦200,000 for each subscription medium in breach of these requirements.” According to the regulation, mobile services providers that allow subscribers to make and receive calls, send and receive short message services and other services usually provided by such operators without first verifying the subscribers’ personal information, including NIN, will be fined per subscription medium. The FG had extended the deadline for NIN-SIM data verification to 31 October.

Algeria has arrested 27 suspected members of a separatist group that the government has declared a terrorist organisation, after an attack in two northern towns, police said Monday. They said the 27 were suspected of belonging to MAK, a group that seeks independence for the Berber-speaking Kabylie region. Morocco’s support for MAK was one of the reasons cited by Algeria in cutting diplomatic relations with the kingdom late last month. Police said the 27 were arrested “for their attempt to sow terror and strife among citizens by order of parties abroad,” police said in a statement. “They resorted to assault and robbery of citizens’ shops.” The statement said the attacks and the arrests took place in the northern towns of Kherrata and Beni Ourtilane in the past 48 hours but gave no further details. It said several members of the security forces were injured when they intervened to protect citizens and their properties during the incident. Police found accessories of military uniforms, bladed weapons, forged seals and mobile phones after searching the homes of those arrested, it added. The government has blamed MAK, which Algiers declared a terrorist organisation last year, for devastating wildfires that killed at least 65 people in the Kabylie region, east of Algiers, last month. MAK, whose leadership is based in France, has denied any involvement.