The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it will begin the process of enforcement and recovery of unremitted tax deductions owed by some states and local governments. The FIRS said it will advise the FG and the Finance Ministry to reject requests for external and domestic loans by defaulting states. Executive Chairman Muhammad Nami signed a public notice issued to this effect on Wednesday. The FIRS said most states and local governments have failed to remit withholding tax (WHT) and value-added tax (VAT) deductions from payments made to contractors and service providers as required by law. The FIRS said it will also ask the government to decline requests for the issuance of state bonds or other securities in the capital market by any of the state and local governments with outstanding unremitted tax deductions. The agency said it would invoke the provisions of Section 24 of its establishment act which empowers the Accountant-General of the Federation to “deduct at source, unremitted taxes due from any government agency from the monthly federation account allocation committee (FAAC), and, to thereafter, transfer such deductions to the federation account and notify the tax authority”. The FIRS called on all defaulting states and local governments to promptly remit all unremitted tax deductions within 30 days of the publication of the notice to avoid stipulated enforcement actions.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has given its approval for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to enter into an agreement with ECOWAS for the construction of the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva made the announcement after the FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday. Mr Sylva said the project was still at the point of the front end engineering design after which the cost would be determined. The pipeline would traverse 15 West African countries to Morocco and Spain. “This gas pipeline is to take gas to 15 West African countries and to Morocco and through Morocco to Spain and Europe,’’ he told State House journalists. The Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline was proposed in a December 2016 agreement between the NNPC and the Moroccan Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (National Board of Hydrocarbons and Mines) or ONHYM. The pipeline would connect Nigerian gas to every coastal country in West Africa (Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania), ending at Tangiers, Morocco and Cádiz, Spain.

Armed persons on Tuesday blocked Birnin Gwari Highway in Kaduna, abducting many travellers and burning at least eight vehicles, a group of residents of the area said. The gunmen reportedly blocked the highway, intercepted a convoy of motorists between Kuriga and Manini near Udawa and kidnapped an unspecified number of people. Ibrahim Nagwari, the chairman of Birnin Gwari Vanguard for Security and Good Governance, a vigilante group, said the gunmen had been active in the area in the last few days. “In the last four days, terrorists had lay siege on motorists on Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna highway, abducting as well as killing and wounded many innocent citizens,” he told Premium Times. He said despite being active in the area, residents failed to report their presence. He also blamed the Nigerian authorities for not doing enough to tackle insecurity in the area. In neighbouring Zamfara, bandits killed tens of local vigilantes on Monday evening after stealing cattle, two security sources and a local official told Reuters on Tuesday. The news agency reported that bandits rustled some cattle in the community of Gidan Dan Inna and villages around the town of Auki in the Bungundu local government area before being pursued by local vigilantes. “The vigilantes didn’t know that the bandits had laid an ambush for them … they opened fire on the vigilantes while riding into the bush on motorbikes, killing about 30 of the vigilantes,” one of the sources said. There was no immediate confirmation from authorities in both states.

Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday extended a joint military operation launched late last year against Islamist insurgents in east Congo, the operation’s spokesperson said. Uganda sent at least 1,700 troops to its central African neighbour in December to help fight a violent rebel group known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – the largest foreign intervention in Congo in over a decade aside from a United Nations peacekeeping operation. Initially meant to last six months, Operation Shujaa was extended on Wednesday despite an earlier announcement by Uganda’s military that it would pull out troops when the mission ended unless instructed otherwise. Shujaa spokesman Colonel Mak Hazukay told Reuters the Congo and Ugandan armies signed documents on June 1st to prolong their joint military operations into a third phase because the threat was not “eradicated”. The length of the extension has not yet been determined and the number of deployed troops is classified information, he added. The ADF began as an uprising in Uganda but has been based in Congo since the late 1990s. It pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2019 and is accused of killing hundreds of villagers in frequent raids over the past two years. Uganda blamed the group for a triple suicide bombing in its capital Kampala on Nov. 16, which killed seven people, including the bombers. Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on a village in North Kivu province on Sunday that killed at least 15 civilians.