•Aregbesola says attacks don’t warrant call for his resignation

FEC approves funding for 49 Green Marias, other vehicles for prisons

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

WORRIED by the incessant jail breaks, the Federal Government yesterday said that measures have been put in place to make Correctional Centers in the country impregnable.

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola stated this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Minister also said the recent attacks of Correctional Centers leading to jailbreaks in some parts of the country will not be a solid reason for him to resign his position as Minister.

He noted that the series of jailbreaks did not happen as a result of lack of preparedness, but situations that were occasioned by series of factors, adding that the federal government is doing all that is necessary to make the facilities impregnable.

He further noted that a number of prison officials died defending the custodial centers, which he said is the highest form of honor for the country.

According to him, “Imo was in April this year. Kabba was in September. Abologo was in October and Jos was in November. Those captured the attacks. As painful as those attacks were, very painful, nobody will really want the end of justice to be so vulnerable.

“The custodial facilities are the final end of criminal justice administration. So, morally, the state owes itself the responsibility of safe custody that must not be violated.

“On that account alone, we must appreciate the enormity of any successful attack on custodial facilities, and I so do, but I want us to put these things in the context of our security situation.

“When our best does not suffice, it’s no longer a question of your inability to make preparation or failure for preparation or preparedness. It’s just that at that instance, you just couldn’t hold the defense and several factors are responsible.

“What I can assure Nigerians is this. Yes, as contextual as these attacks and the successes such criminals are having, we are upping our game and we will not allow, we will prevent any such opportunistic attack and even make it impossible. And that is what the state must do.

“We are working with all arms of government, particularly the security, to make our custodial facilities impregnable. We will not rest until that is achieved. So, that’s the assurance I’ll give to Nigerians. 

“As to whether it calls for my resignation. I still don’t see any need for that because it’s not for lack of preparedness that the attacks were successful. No.

“Even the men in uniform, yes the hazards of their job could lead to their death, but none of them would prepare to die. These are human beings. For anyone of them to fall, it signifies the fact that no effort was spared and efforts that led to the sacrifice of human life cannot be trivialised”, he said.

Ogbeni Aregbesola said the death of prison officials during the attacks is a testimony to the efforts put in to prevent them.

He said FEC approved the sum of N965.9 million for the purchase of 49 operational vehicles for us by the Nigerian Correc-tional Service (NCS).

He explained that the vehicles, which would be procured from local manufacturers, would complement the ones already in use by the Correctional Service.

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He said, “The Nigerian Correctional Service through the Ministry of Interior presented a memo to council and obtained approval to spend the sum of N965,902,524.58 to procure 49 operational and Green Maria vehicles.

“These 49 vehicles will complement the 513 operational and Green Maria vehicles already purchased between 2016 and 2020. This does not in any way mean that we have met the vehicle needs of the Nigerian Correctional Service but noting that since the advent of this administra-tion, concerted effort and commitment are being made to ensure that the Correctional Service is provisioned with operational tools to meet its mandate of keeping the facilities safe as well as having the logistics to move inmates from the facilities to the over 5022 courts scattered all over Nigeria.”

Also speaking, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said the council approved the sum N145 million for the procurement of an office accommodation for the Federal Character Commission in Bayelsa State at the sum of N145 million.

He also announced the approval of N136.2 million for the procurement of operational vehicles for the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA).

On her own part, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said that the Council ratified the Finance Bill 2021/2022 fiscal year.

The Minister explained that the bill, which is currently before the National Assembly, focused on tax as well as reviewing and amending some 11 fiscal laws.

She further said that rather than proposing new taxes, or increasing tax rates, the Finance Bill for the 2022 fiscal year focuses on closing loopholes and improving tax administration.

She said: “This draft bill was prepared by the Fiscal Policy Committee and it focused on tax and reviewing some fiscal laws and also amending some and these laws, about 11 in number, that have been affected. The purpose for us is to be able to refine our fiscal laws to improve tax compliance and also to enhance revenue generation.

“So, the proposed legislation falls under five broad categories. The first one of course, is domestic revenue mobilisation and various measures are proposed in the bill to enhance revenue and these include; one limited, excellent exemptions of case from shares disposals from capital gains tax to long term equity investments, out to a close in tax loopholes for companies that are transmitted from the previous federal public tax regime to the world corporate tax and have recovered tax regime that is provided under the new petrol industry act of 2021.

“Three, there’s also provisions that have been made to prevent the abuse of Personal Income Tax released by individual taxpayers and allowances to evade taxation.

“This second broad category is Tax Administration Reforms and this include provisions to support the FIRS ongoing reforms to fully automate and deploy technology to enhance collections and encourage taxpayer compliance and there are several measures in that category. But the third one is International Taxation Reforms.

“This provision em-powers the FIRS to better assess non-resident companies to taxation by taxing profits derived from digital services rendered to Nigerian customers and it’s also designed to reduce the tax compliance burdens on non-resident taxpayers that are not required to register in Nigeria as companies.

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