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Sanwo-Olu suspends director for imposing 5% levy on Netflix, Iroko TV, others

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Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has suspended the Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board, Bamidele Balogun, for imposing a five percent tax on digital platforms including Netflix and Iroko TV.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, said this in a statement on Friday night titled, ‘Lagos State Has No 5% Levy on Audio and Visual Contents of Physical and Digital Platforms’

Omotosho, who is the Spokesman for the state government, said Balogun acted without authorization and was therefore suspended.

The statement read in part, “There is no levy on audio and visual contents of all physical and digital platforms in Lagos State. The Executive Secretary, Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board, Mr. Bamidele Balogun, is said to have announced a five percent levy.

“The government hereby dissociates itself from the said announcement in the media. The Executive Secretary, who was not authorized to make such an announcement, has been suspended, pending an administrative inquiry.”

He said the Sanwo-Olu administration is not insensitive to the fact that the industry has been badly hit by the effects of the COVID -19 pandemic and empathizes with this and other sectors of the economy.

A Federal High Court had barred the LSFVCB from levying film and video producers.

Justice Chuka Obiozor of a Federal High Court had in a judgment in June 2020 stated that the LSFVCB could not be collecting taxes at the same time as the National Film and Video Censors Board as it amounted to double taxation.

Despite the judgment, however, Baalogun had written letters to several digital platforms including Netflix and Iroko TV demanding five percent.

A letter, which was addressed to the Managing Director of Iroko TV, Jason Njoku, stated that the firm must pay five percent on all visual and audio content.

The letter dated August 31, 2020, read in part, “We hereby request for immediate payment of the five percent levy on all audio and visual content produced, sold, distributed, marketed, exhibited, streamed, downloaded and shared across all physical and digital platform situate, lying and being within Lagos State.”

When contacted on the telephone, Balogun said he could not speak on the matter.

The Executive Secretary of the NFVCB, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas, had described the new levy of the state government as wrong and inimical to the growth of the sector.

“There is an existing court judgment on that matter. The move is wrong and I will be meeting with representatives of the state soon to look into the issue,” he said.

The Audio-Visual Rights Society of Nigeria had also lambasted the Lagos State Government for going ahead with the levy despite a court judgment.

The President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, Mr. Pretty Okafor, described the new levy by the state government as illegal and wicked, adding that it would be challenged again in court.

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NIGERIA

Outrage as ex-minister allegedly orders hotel female workers stripped naked

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There was outrage on Tuesday over the alleged dehumanization of four employees of the Signatious Hotel, Warri, Delta State, by the management.

The Chairman of the hotel and former Minister of State for Education, Mr Kenneth Gbagi, was alleged to have ordered that workers – three women and a man – be stripped naked.

Their nudes were filmed and the snapshots sent online.

Activists and social media users condemned the act and urged the state Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa, to investigate the incident and arrest all those complicit.

Some right groups also took to the streets of Asaba to protest the dehumanization of the hotel workers, identified as Gloria Oguzie, Victor Ephraim, Rosslyn Okiemute and Precious Achibong.

The activists, who carried placards with different inscriptions, such as, ‘Human rights under attack in Delta State’, and ‘We say no to bad justice in Nigeria,’ called on the federal and state governments and lawyers to assist the victims to get justice.

The leader of the protesters and Director, Young Nigerian Right Organisation, Victor Ojei, alleged that the hotel owner ordered the arrest of the workers over N5,000.

He claimed that the ladies were stripped naked in the presence of the police, who were called in to take them into custody.

He said, “Three females and one man were held hostage, stripped naked in the hotel room, photographed and put on video camera by the management of the hotel.

“Last week Friday, the management of the hotel stripped the ladies naked, filmed them in the presence of the police and at gunpoint. Cash was also withdrawn from the victims’ accounts through their ATM cards, before the police bundled them into a waiting van.

“The police, who should protect the citizens, connived with the hotel management and dehumanized them. Let’s assume that they stole the money, there are channels to address such matters.”

Also, a lawyer, Collins Chidiebere, said human rights organizations could no longer keep quiet over abuses in the state.

Chidiebere stated, “Human rights are supposed to be respected; those victims were kidnapped, held hostage, stripped naked for a period of four days, because of a mere allegation of stealing.

“There is a court of competent jurisdiction that should look into the matter and confirm whether these persons are innocent or guilty of the allegation. No one should take the law into their own hands.”

Another lawyer, Omemiroro Ogedegbe, said that a petition would be sent to the state Commissioner of Police over the matter.

He said, “The workers were arrested on Friday. By Sunday, we got information that they were not granted bail, because of their economic conditions. We intervened and asked the Divisional Police Officer to charge them.

“It was after their bail that they narrated their ordeal. They said Gbagi ordered that they should be stripped naked and videoed.”

The Director, Human Resources, Signatious Hotel, Egba Ederoghene, in a statement, said the allegations were meant to tarnish the reputation of Gbagi.

The statement was titled, ‘The futile attempt of political detractors to blackmail Gbagi’.

Ederoghene said, “We wish to categorically state that at no time did Gbagi subject any staff of the hotel to such humiliation, as he is presently bereaved and occupied with preparing for the funeral of his sister, who passed away recently.

“The management also wishes to use this opportunity to inform the public that the staff members in the pictures are part of a mali • cious conspiracy by some political detractors to bring Gbagi’s character to disrepute. This is not the first time an attempt has been made to smear the character of our chairman for whatever reason.

“In the absence of any dirt to nail Gbagi’s pristine reputation, they have descended to mudslinging by concocting fictitious stories to stir emotions and gain public attention.

“However, what those behind the recent blackmail against Gbagi do not realize is that the employees, whom they handpicked for their dirty and poorly executed job, were already under investigation by the management for conniving to steal huge sums of money from the hotel, some of which have been recovered. Confessional statements to this effect can be obtained from the Ebrumede Police Station.”

Ederoghene said the lawyers and activists speaking for the victims were sponsored “so as to serve the political interest of their paymasters.”

The former minister, in his personal reaction, expressed shock at the dehumanization of the workers and promised to look into it.

While addressing journalists on Tuesday, he denied any involvement in the matter.

“I have handed over the running of the hotel to a management team,” he added.

He, however, accused his political enemies of taking advantage of the incident to rubbish his ambition ahead of the 2023 governorship race in the state.

Two of the affected workers, who were contacteddeclined comments.

Instead, they referred our correspondents to their lawyers.

Our correspondents gathered that they were arraigned on five counts of stealing various sums from the hotel, including N156,000; N111,000; N5,000 and N2,000, and the magistrate admitted them to bail in liberal terms.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Onome Onovwakpoyeya, said she was not aware that the workers were stripped naked.

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NIGERIA

Two robbers nabbed while sleeping in stolen car

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Two yet-to-be-identified suspected robbers have been arrested by men of the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly dispossessing a driver, identified simply as Utibe, of his Toyota Corolla car, in the Ibeju-Lekki area of the state.

It was gathered that the suspects had ordered a ride from Utibe, who works with a car-hailing company, Bolt, around the Lagos Business School area of the state.

While on their way to their destination, Utibe’s friend, @sama_on_point, chronicled on Twitter that the suspects brought out sharp objects, stabbed the driver and absconded with his vehicle.

He stated that the car stopped abruptly on the way, adding that the suspects thought fuel had finished in the vehicle and slept in it until the police tracked them to the location.

The tweet read, “This guy below is my friend’s driver. A ride was ordered at about 8:40pm on Sunday, Sept 20, 2020. He arrived at the pickup location just after Lagos Business School at about 9pm. As he started the trip, the 2 guys (riders) stabbed the driver and drove off with the car.

“These 2 criminals below are the riders that stabbed the driver and snatched the car. They drove off to the Ibeju Lekki axis. Unknowing to the criminals, the car had a tracker. The tracker was used to switch off the engine. The fools thought it was fuel.

“From the tracker’s voice recording, the car snatchers thought it was fuel shortage. They had no money to buy fuel, so they decided to sleep in the car till morning as it was very late at night. The Police followed the GPS and arrested the criminals sleeping right inside the car!”

A picture attached to the post showed the driver’s shirt soaked in his blood due to the deep cut he sustained on his face during the attack.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said two suspected armed robbers, who attacked Utibe, on September 20, 2020, around 11.30pm, and snatched his Toyota Corolla car with number plate LND 448 GH, at Abijo GRA, Ibeju Lekki, had been arrested.

He said, “On the receipt of the distress call, the Area Commander, Area ‘J’, Ajah, dispatched a team to the scene and traced the snatched car to the Mayfair Garden, Ibeju Lekki, where the suspects were arrested. The driver was rescued and the car recovered.

“The police also recovered one axe stained with blood, and one knife from the suspects. The driver, who was seriously injured, is receiving treatment at a hospital in Lagos State.

“The Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered a discreet investigation into the case, while he warned those, who are planning to engage in criminal acts or have been involved in one crime or the other, to desist and flee Lagos State.”

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NIGERIA

N433m commission: Ajayi’s allegation treacherous, false, says Akeredolu’s son

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The son of the Governor of Ondo State, Babajide Akeredolu, on Tuesday threatened to sue the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Agboola Ajayi, for mentioning his name in the alleged N4.3bn kept in a secret account by the previous administration.

Ajayi was alleged to have mentioned that Babajide received a commission of N433m from a N4.3bn found in the secret account.

Ajayi, who is the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party, was said to have made the statement during his campaign rally last Saturday, in Ore, Odigbo Local Government Area of the state.

Babajide on his twitter handle said, “My attention has been drawn to the spurious allegations made against me by Hon. Agboola Ajayi, the governorship candidate of the Zenith Labour Party during his campaign rally on the 19th of September, 2020 at Ore in Odigbo local government area.”

He said the claim was unsubstantiated and designed to malign him for political gain.

“I have instructed my lawyers to institute legal action against Hon. Agboola Ajayi to claim full damages for the harm the false and malicious statement he made has done to my reputation. He must prove this allegation in the court of law.”

The governor’s son said he would wait till the deputy governor get off his immunity before instituting the legal action against him.

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