FG Bans 91 Billionaires, VIPs’ Jets, Insists On N30bn Duty
The Federal Government has directed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to ground 91 private jets belonging to some wealthy Nigerians over their alleged refusal to pay import duties running to over N30 billion, documents obtained by Punch have revealed.
As such, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali, (retd.) following a directive from the Presidency, has written a letter to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency asking the agencies to ground the affected private jets with immediate effect.
The letter, with reference number NCS/T&T/ACG/042/s.100/VOL.II, which was dated November 2, 2021, was addressed to the Director-General, NCAA, Capt Musa Nuhu.
A copy of the letter, which was obtained by one of our correspondents, was also addressed and sent to the Managing Director, FAAN, Capt Rabiu Yadudu; and the Managing Director, NAMA, Capt Fola Akinkuotu.
The letter directed the aviation agency regulator (NCAA), the nation’s airspace management agency (NAMA), and airport management agency (FAAN), to ground the private jets by denying them administrative and operational flight clearances indefinitely.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that the letters were received by the aviation agencies on November 8, 2021.
According to documents sighted by one of our correspondents, the NCS letter to NAMA was delivered with reference code 19755747 by the courier company, while the NCS letter to FAAN was referenced 19755746 by the courier firm.
The NCS letter, which was delivered to the NCAA, was also referenced 19755748 by the courier firm.
It was titled, ‘Recovery of Aviation Import Duty on Privately Owned Aircraft Operating in the Country.’
The NCAA letter read in part, “The Federal Government in its drive for enhanced revenues has mandated the Nigeria Customs Service to immediately recover from defaulting private aircraft owners the required statutory import duties on their imported aircraft.
“You may wish to recall the verification exercise conducted by the NCS, initially scheduled for a 14 day period, but magnanimously extended over a 60-day period from 7th June through 6 August 2021, following a World Press Conference held on 31st May 2021. The outcome of the aforementioned verification exercise is a compilation of all private aircraft imported into the country without payment of statutory import duty.
“The Nigeria Custom Service, in line with its statutory functions, is empowered by Part 111 Sections 27, 35, 37, 45,46, 47, 52, 56,63 & 64; Part XI Sections 144, 145, 155, 160, 161& 164 and Part XII Sections 167, 168, 169, 173 & 174 of the Customs and Excise Management Act.”
It further read, “In this regard therefore, your full cooperation is being solicited to ensure the success of this initiative and that all such private aircraft owners or representatives are denied administrative and operational flight clearances indefinitely, until an NCS issued Aircraft Clearance Certificate is procured and presented to your organisation as proof of compliance.
“For the avoidance of doubt, ALL aircraft operated in accordance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s regulation for the issuance of Permit for Non-Commercial Flight and those issued with Flight Operations Clearance Certificate and Maintenance Clearance Certificate accordingly are affected by this directive.
“Please find attached the list of all verified aircraft and indeed others of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s register, which may not have come forward for your record and necessary action. Strict compliance with this directive is to be ensured. Please accept the assurances of my highest regards and esteem as always.”
Police Nab 2 Over OAU Student’s Death
Two persons said to be members of the Awo Hall Executives have been arrested by the police, following the death of a 500 Level student of the Civil Engineering Department at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Ahize Okoli.
Okoli was reportedly beaten to death by a mob on suspicion that he stole a mobile phone.
Sources on the campus said the student was accused of stealing a mobile phone in Awo Hall on Monday and after he had been severely beaten, he was moved to the Students Union Building in the early hours of Tuesday where he remained till around noon.
It was further learnt that because of the beating he received, Okoli’s health deteriorated and he was rushed to the OAU Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife, where he was confirmed dead Tuesday afternoon.
The Osun State Police Command, while giving an update on the incident on Wednesday, described the two people detained as student leaders.
The command’s spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola, who spoke to journalists, said, “Investigation into the incident will continue and justice would be served. We have arrested two student leaders in connection with the incident.”
Also speaking, the university’s Public Relations Officer, PRO, Abiodun Olarewaju, said the police should be allowed to investigate the matter, adding that the management of the institution would also carry out its investigation.
Olanrewaju said, “The university will not meddle in such a grievous offence. It bothers on the criminality of murder.
“So, let the police do their job and we will do our own here. We are going ahead with our investigation.”
EKSU Shut Over Students’ Protest
The authorities of Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State have shut down the institution following protests by students who were demanding a review of late registration fee and other fees levied by the institution.
The students, carrying placards, had, on Tuesday morning, come out in their numbers to protest the fees, which they said were unbearable and amounted to extortion.
The protesting students, who condemned the N5,000 late registration fee imposed on them by the school, blocked the main gates, preventing both students and lecturers from gaining entrance into the university.
The Students’ Union Government Public Relations Officer, Dotun Ogunsanya, who described the fees as an extortion, said, “This is more worrisome especially that we do not enjoy any facility in the school. There has not been power supply within and outside the university premises for many years now.”
EKSU Vice Chancellor, Prof Edward Olanipekun, however, on behalf of the university Senate, approved the suspension of academic activities on the campus for two weeks with effect from Monday.
The Head, Directorate of Information and Corporate Affairs, Bode Olofinmuagun, in a statement, directed all students of the university to vacate the campus immediately and should not be seen within the premises for the next two weeks.”
Chimamanda Adichie Criticizes US Govt. For Celebrating Tinubu
The US State Department has come under fire from Internationally acclaimed writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for congratulating Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president-elect of Nigeria, despite a rigged election.
Adichie referred to claims of widespread violence, ballot box theft, voter intimidation, and other irregularities that plagued the February 25 election in an open letter to President Joe Biden.
The Independent National Electoral Commission failed to fulfill its commitment to post election results from polling places in real-time via their result viewing the webpage, according to the author of a piece that appeared in The Atlantic on Thursday.
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Chimamanda Adichie pointed out that the congratulatory statement itself mentioned that Nigerians were frustrated at the “manner in which the process was conducted and the shortcomings of technical elements that were used for the first time in a presidential election cycle.” She cited Ned Price, the spokesperson for the US State Department.
She also urged Biden to refrain from endorsing the outcomes of the “undemocratic process” in order to show his lack of concern for the status of Nigeria today.
“You have spoken of the importance of a ‘global community for democracy,’ and the need to stand up for ‘justice and the rule of law.’ A global community for democracy cannot thrive in the face of apathy from its most powerful member.
“Why would the United States, which prioritizes the rule of law, endorse a president-elect who has emerged from an unlawful process?” Chimamanda Adichie wrote.
According to the author, many Nigerians are furious not because their favorite candidate did not win, but rather because “the election they had dared to trust was, in the end, so unacceptably and unforgivably flawed.”