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FCT doctors begin strike today over COVID-19 allowance

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The Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Capital Territory Administration chapter, will today (Tuesday) embark on strike over non-payment of their COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances.

The strike which was also premised on the non-implementation of the variation of the 2018 promotion, amongst other issues, was sequel to the expiration of a 14-day ultimatum given to the FCTA over the issues in the communiqué submitted to the administration dated August 14, 2020.  The strike decision was contained in a fresh communiqué issued on Monday at the end of its emergency meeting held both physically virtually in Abuja.

The communiqué was co-signed by the chairman of ARD-FCTA, Dr. Roland Aigbovo and General Secretary, Dr Mustapha Ibrahim.

The ARD-FCTA said the strike would only be called off when their demands were met.

The communiqué reads in part, “Due to the insensitivity displayed by the Office of the Permanent Secretary, FCT, and widespread agitations among our members in the various FCT hospitals and isolation/treatment centres, we regret to notify the administration and by extension, the general public that the association would embark on an indefinite strike action with effect from 8 am, 1st September 2020 until the payment of the COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowance is received and the variation of the 2018 promotion exercise implemented.

“We regret any inconveniences this might cause the Federal Capital Territory Administration and the general public needing healthcare delivery during this period.

“We implore the FCT Administration to also look into the other myriads of problems raised in our earlier communication to the administration dated 14th August 2020 with a view to resolving all pending issues so as to maintain industrial harmony.”

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NIGERIA

FG, labour meet Thursday over electricity, fuel hike

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The Federal Government will on Thursday meet again with the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress on the threat by the organised labour to proceed on an indefinite strike and protest over the hike in electricity tariffs and fuel pump price.

The FG is expected to unfold its palliative plans during the parley which would hold at the Banquet hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, disclosed the meeting date in an email on Wednesday.

It read, “The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige will be hosting a meeting with the Organised Labour. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 24, 2020, and the venue is the Banquet hall, Presidential Villa, by 3pm.”

The FG and the unions had met penultimate Tuesday but the dialogue ended in a deadlock following the failure of the government to reverse the price increase or offer palliatives to cushion the effects on the workers.

The NLC and TUC subsequently declared strike and protest scheduled to commence from Tuesday.

Both unions said they would collaborate to execute the industrial action for maximum effect.

Rising from a meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, the National Executive Council of the NLC comprising the chairpersons of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory endorsed the decision earlier taken by the Central Working Committee of the Congress on the strike last Wednesday.

The CWC had handed down a two-week ultimatum to the FG to reverse the price hike or face industrial action.

The TUC had also mobilized its affiliate members to participate in the proposed civil disobedience.

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NIGERIA

Truck drivers sue AGF, IGP, state goverments over tax

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Heavy Duty and Haulage Transport Association of Nigeria has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking that the excessive taxes imposed on their members across the country should be stopped.

In the suit filed on Tuesday and marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1198/2020, the plaintiff sought an order compelling the relevant authorities sued as part of the 42 defendants to put an end to the alleged excessive roadblocks and collection of taxes, levies, or fees from their members.

The Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, are part of the 42 defendants in the suit.

The rest of the defendants are the Nigeria Association of Agricultural Produce Dealers, the 36 state governments through their respective Attorneys-General, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, and the National Freight Hauliers Association.

The plaintiff, through its lawyer, Mr Abel Ozioko, urged the court to determine if, by the provisions of items 59, 62(a), and 63 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution and Sections 2 (2) and 3 of the Taxes and Levies Act, the states and local governments were not prohibited from mounting roadblocks for the purposes of tax collection.

The association of tanker drivers attached to the suit as an exhibit newspaper publications showing how it had decried the extortion and harassment of its members on the highways.

It attributed the rising food crises in the country to the difficulty faced by its members in conveying food to the various parts of the country.

The association, therefore, sought among others, a declaration by the court, that the defendants were by the provisions of Sections 2 (2) and 3 of the Taxes and Levies Act, prohibited from mounting roadblocks in any part of the country for the purpose of collecting any form of tax, levy or fee from heavy-duty vehicles and haulage drivers.

It sought, “A declaration that by Section 2 (2) and (3) of the Taxes and Levies Act, the defendants are not empowered to collect any form of taxes, levies or fees from heavy-duty vehicles and haulage drivers on any federal highway or federal trunk roads in Nigeria.

“A declaration that the association is entitled to monitor the trucks of its members transporting goods and produce on several highways in Nigeria, to ensure their compliance with all traffic regulations and to avoid diversion of their trucks.”

It also urged the court to issue an order restraining the defendants or their agents from imposing multiple taxations on its members or further stopping or hindering them in any part of the country.

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NIGERIA

EFCC arraigns ex-poly director for N27m contract scam in Anambra

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arraigned a former Director of Physical Planning, and currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, Pius Ezeokafor before Justice O. Ezeoke of the State High Court sitting in Ekwulobia, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.

He was arraigned on Tuesday, on three counts bordering on obtaining money by false pretence and gratification to the tune of N27 million.

One of the charges read, “That you, Arc. Pius Ugochukwu Ezeokafor sometime between the year 2011 and 2012 at Oko, Aguata Local Government Area within the jurisdiction of the High Court of Anambra State, did commit felony to wit: with intent to defraud, obtained by false pretence the sum of N27m from one Emerson Associates Ltd. and Dr Okechukwu Enemuo (being Managing Director of Emerson Associates Limited), when you represented to them that you would help them get a contract of N1 billion upon payment of facilitation fee, which pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence.”

A statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said the defendant allegedly met the petitioners on site at the polytechnic where they were executing two construction contracts and offered to use his office as director of physical planning to swing the contract for them if they would pay him N27m facilitation fee.

“After receiving the payment, the defendant neither facilitated the promised contract nor refund their money.

“Upon arraignment, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the three counts preferred against him by the EFCC,” the statement said.

It said the prosecution counsel, Fortune Asemebo, asked for a trial date while the defence counsel, Lucius Ogbuagu moved a motion for the bail of the defendant.

Justice Ezeoke, after hearing from both counsel, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum who must have landed property within the jurisdiction of the court.

The surety must be recommended by a legal practitioner or town union president and must show evidence of tax clearance for the past three years.

The court adjourned the matter till October 14, 21, and November 5 for trial.

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