Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa

If the Federal Government follows through with plans to impose taxes on telecommunications services, won’t already struggling Nigerians be further impoverished?
First, the Telecommunication Act of 2003 does not in any manner, as it is now, accommodate the imposition of any form of tax on consumers. The purpose of the act is to make telecommunication services affordable to every Nigerian. It is a pity that the government is yet to achieve this. Despite this failure on its part, it is also illegal for the Federal Government to go ahead to impose a tax of any kind on telecommunication services. If that has to be done for any reasonable reason, it has to be through legislation, by the National Assembly.

Secondly, the government must not forget that telecommunication service is not a luxury, but a necessity, and part of our rights of existence as citizens.

It is a pity that a government that ran our economy into recession is now talking of taxation to shore up the economy that it grounded, and this has continued to scare away investors.There is no money everywhere; all the monies are with the government just for the reason of fighting corruption. Our infrastructure are in very bad shape, and instead of the government beginning to think of some palliative measures to cushion the effects of the recession it subjected Nigerians to, it wants to further the pains with taxation. The government must take responsibility for this recession.

FIRS is also considering adopting tax clearance as one of the conditions for the issuance/renewal of Nigerian passports. Is this legal?
That too is illegal. It is an infringement on the rights of Nigerian citizens. In Olisa Agbakoba vs the Federal Government, which went up to the Supreme Court, the court held that every Nigerian enjoys the right of freedom of movement. Ordinarily, the passport ought to be free, but we still pay money, yet the government is not satisfied, and now wants to find a way of making it difficult. This is absolute denial of freedom of movement.There is no justification for all these taxes that the Federal Government is planning against the people, as far as the law is concerned.

What are the likely implications of government’s move to shore up revenue, widen taxpayers’ base, but without commensurate improvement in the lives of its citizens?
Like I have said earlier, the people are suffering seriously and something needs to be done. I read last week in the papers how a woman in Lagos State killed her husband because he could not meet up with certain demands from her. We are going through the worst period in the history of this country. The present government needs to be told because the way things are, it appears the government is pushing us to a stage of cannibalism when people begin to kill and eat fellow human beings. The government of APC is not changing anything. We are suffering and the Federal Government must stop anything that is capable of aggravating the suffering of the masses.

guardian

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