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Railway contractors tackle Deux projects Ltd over N600m debt

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***Ask EFCC to investigate alleged diversion of said amount

Contractors who were engaged to fence Nigeria Railway line from the Federal Capital Territory to Kaduna have protested alleged diversion of N600 million meant to offset their outstanding payments over the weekend.
The contractors who executed various projects from 2017 till date have not been paid for the projects they executed, a situation, they lamented has got them indebted to banks with interest accruing on daily basis.

The angry contractors numbering about 30 explained that they acted as subcontractors to the major company called Deux Projects Limited owned by one Dr. Tunji Olowolafe whom they were relating well with, when the projects were being exevuteduntil the situation went awry after the Federal government paid the CECC, a Chinese Construction company which later paid Deux Projects Limited with the view to pay subcontractors.

The protesting contractors speaking through their leader, Mr Onyekene Chukwu said they have been agitating for the debts owed them without success noting that the Chairman of Deux Projects Limited who is their debtor is an ally of “powers that be” in government circles particularly in the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
Mr Chukwu said: “We worked on Abuja Kaduna railway Deux projects Limited since 2017, 2018, some 2019 and since then till now we are not being paid.

“The main company said they have over paid some contractors and since them they have been promising they will come and pay us. They have been dribbling us since them.

“The other day they called us and their team of engineers did valuation. Almost all of us were captured in the valuation and the Kilometers that we worked were captured. Since they have been turning us up and down, come today, tomorrow and so on.

“We have been coming, we came last week, some from Lagos, Delta, Onitsha, many have died, others are bankrupt.
He said many contractors sold their properties like cars, land to execute the projects only to be deceived.
The worse part he said they worked under most precarious situation as they were probed to being kidnapped adding that after all the sacrifices their paymasters are engaging in hide and seek

The contractors who confirmed to newsmen that the Federal Government has discharged it’s obligations by releasing funds meant for the railway, called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to wade in, stressing that Dr Olowolafe who is the promoter of Deux Projects Limited might have been fronting the business for some powerful personalities in government and has no single asset in Nigeria, hence, he could travel out of the country any moment.

“Now we want President Muhammadu Buhari to dig in and know the source of this project and those behind the project to know why we have done the job since 2019 and we are yet to be paid. They have been paid and yet they refused to pay.
“The main contractors are the chisels CCECC they gave this fencing project to Deus Project limited and Deus Project limited subletted to the local contractors
“They gave the contract to Deux Project Limited who subletted it to us under their supervision

“Over N600 million is what they are owing them what they are owing the local contractors. They have collected a lot of money from the Chinese who got the original contract from the Federal Government .
“Instead of them to pay they decided to divert that money to other projects they have elsewhere. Some came from Lagos, from Delta State.
Each contractor related their bitter experiences on the project site amid kidnappings and attacks by bandits, noting that it most painful and undermining of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

In his words, Mr. Raymond Agama a contractor said: “I worked with three different companies as a sub contractor Ascot Consult Nigeria Limited.

“Ascot has been working with them since 2017 and it has done production of blocks, casting and also supply and distribution of coping and laying. What they are owing Ascot is N57 million, it is more than that but that is what their paper says, but let the N57m come out first then we can go back and fight for the balance. I work for DSP as a sub contractor.

“I laid blocks in several kilometers . I work with Rock ways, I did concrete about 5.5km which amounts to about N30.8m, he said he worked with another subcontractor where they are owing him N19.6m. They came with an excuse in 2020 that the main contractor under whom we worked has been over paid.”

Effort to get the reaction of Dr. Tunji Olowolafe whom they accused to have allegedly diverted the money proved abortive as he did not pick his calls neither did he reply to a text message to his phone number 08035605656.

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MATAN president enumerates benefit for stakeholders, how it will end injustices

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National President of MATAN, Jamilu Abbas
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***MATAN to bring informal sector into FG tax

The emergence of Market Traders Association of Nigeria (MATAN) which is the umbrella body for all trading associations is an answered prayer for all those who have been shortchanged by government officials in the distribution of parliatives and intervention funds, its National President honorable Jamilu Abbas has declared.
Speaking at its National Executive Council Meeting held in Abuja recently, he said MATAN is a trailblazing association that holds the magic wand to resolve most of the issues bedeviling the country as a result of the greed of some leaders.
He recalled the action of some Governors and political office holders during the COVID19 pandemic when palliatives meant to be distributed to the poorest of the poor were hoarded and kept away from them by some governors, lawmakers, local Government chairmen and so on.
According to him, they in the informal sector have decided to channel their own energy to forming the MATAN,
“That is why we decide to float a project, leading to the launch of the Integrated Market Revenue Management System (IMRMS).
He said MATAN is in Partnership with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to collect and remit Value Added Tax (VAT) from traders in marketplace, using the IMRMS platform.
According to him, the collaboration; known as the VAT Direct Initiative (VDI), is part of a push to widen the government’s tax base.
To that end he said, the FIRS has rolled out the implementation of the IMRMS, a purpose-built digital platform, to capture the informal sector, especially market traders in to the federal government’s tax net.
He said MATAN is the largest player in Nigeria’s market space with a membership of well over 40 million traders across the country.
“Under the arrangement, MATAN is expected to digitally enumerate its members, give them a digital identity and track their turnover so that VAT accrued is collected and remitted to the FIRS.
“Through this initiative, the FIRS will help tackle multiple taxation in the marketplace through partnership with security agencies to curb the activities of touts, miscreants and self-imposed tax collectors involved in illegal tax collection in Nigeria’s market spaces. ”
He said the solution is, MATAN is providing a platform that will go digital to bring all in the informal sector to become formal.
According to him, With the ongoing enumeration, each member will have his multi purpose Identity Cards which is called VDIIT
“So with the card, our agents will enumerate you as a trader, farmer, transporter or Artizan. We have analyzed it, the small Scale, the Medium Scale and the larger scale.
“Even if you are exempted from paying tax to government, you are not exempted from benefiting from services such as insurance, PENCOM, because when you fall ill, you will go to the hospital, when you have cases in your market places, the Lawyer is there to support you free of charge.
He said with the card, they are in partnership with government so if government wants to give palliative they don’t need to go through some one who will corner them for his personal use. They don’t need to go through any criminal or any offices.
He said President Tinubu is well informed of the Association because after enumeration, this is the only platform which the President will authorise for all banks to send government intervention funds to without passing through any criminal that has opportunity to occupy government position.
“Immediately we provided this platform, the State Governments, the joint tax board, invited us and we promised them that we are going to be paying their taxes, we are bringing our people to the tax net, so that if it is N1, on 10k, they will be contributing to government coffers.
“But when we make this contribution government must pay us back, the pay back is the tax relief, if I have children who want to go to school, through this card they can access free education.

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Obi insists, food insecurity is a major threat to the Nation

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Peter Obi
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The Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 general election, Mr Peter Obi, has indicated that food insecurity is a major threat to the Nation.
The LP standard bearer who made the remarks in Ibadan when he visited the headquarters of the International Institute Tropical Agriculture (IITA), explained that solving the problem of food insecurity in Nigeria will help to eradicate hunger and combat food inflation.
IITA is an institute that engages in agricultural research for the development of sustainable and innovative farming practices aimed at solving the problem of hunger and poverty in the nation.

His personal assistant on media, Michael Jude Nwolisa in a statement he issued in Abuja on Monday quoted Obi to have charged the government to make agriculture top priority.
According to Obi, the worsening level of inflation in the country is occasioned by the obvious abandonment of agriculture resulting in food insecurity.

He expressed his appreciation to the management and staff of IITA for what he described as their very significant contributions to Nigeria’s agricultural sector, especially in ensuring higher agricultural productivity.
Obi encouraged them to do more by working more closely with local farmers and agricultural stakeholders to enhance farming practices and agricultural productivity.
This, Obi said, will help IITA to ensure that their research outcomes and innovations are effectively disseminated and adopted, leading to tangible improvements in the agricultural sector.

The LP presidential candidate maintained that agriculture remains a very critical sector in Nigeria’s economy and should not be neglected. “Our obvious neglect of agriculture is the cause of hunger and food insecurity, resulting in the high food inflation rate we have today,” he said.

“Lack of investment in agriculture, he argued, has resulted in the high level of hunger and poverty in the country today. In his words, “In the 2023 Global Hunger Index, Nigeria ranked 109th out of the 125 countries measured, showing a serious hunger level in the nation.
“Our food inflation rate is currently at 33%, signifying that more concerted efforts need to be made in moving our nation from consumption to production, in the agricultural sector.”

He further explained that aside from achieving food security, Nigeria could earn huge foreign exchange from agriculture.
“I have maintained consistently that Nigeria could earn more from agriculture than it presently earns from oil. I have also said that the biggest assets of our nation are the vast uncultivated lands in the North. “If we invest in agriculture and fully explore our fertile lands, we will not only end hunger and eradicate poverty but drive down inflation and earn huge amounts of foreign exchange through agricultural exports,” Obi said.

“Our mission remains to move Nigeria from consumption to production as this will help us to achieve the New and productive Nigeria of our dreams,” Obi concluded.

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Protests erupt in Nasarawa after S’ Court’s verdict that gave victory to Gov. Sule

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Following the Supreme Court ruling which upheld the election of Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State in the March 18, 2023 election, Protests have erupted in Lafia, the State capital.
The Lafia-Jos road has been completely blocked as the protesters lit bonfire to prevent travelers and other road users from passing.

It was gathered that motorists had to take alternative routes out of Lafia.

The streets of the capital city were overtaken by the protesters who were aggrieved with the Supreme Court Judgment

A group of elderly women and widows marched through the streets of Lafia, to protest the court’s decision

The state election petition tribunal had nullified Sule’s election and declared Ombugadu of the PDP the winner, but the appeal court later upurned the decision, leading to the final ruling by the Supreme Court.

Women groups have been at the forefront of the protests, leading to road blockades in various parts of the state capital, including the Lafia-Jos road.

This has disrupted traffic flow, forcing commuters to seek alternative routes. The unrest has prompted calls for an increased presence of security forces to restore calm in the area.

The protests have also had economic downturn, with shops, businesses, and schools in the state capital hastily closing their doors in response to the unfolding events.

The situation remains tensed as various groups continue to express their discontent following the court’s ruling.

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