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VAIDs: Saving Nigerians from UK law

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In our secondary school days, those unfortunate enough to lose their belongings would be admonished ‘lost property… careless owner’. The United Kingdom Government is planning to teach many high networth Nigerians and some members of our middle class, a financially painful school lesson.
In recent years, the UK had one of the best performing property markets in the world. It was buoyed by inflows from Russia, China, Dubai and Nigeria. With high global oil prices, this new class of super-rich were feted and courted by the British with few questions asked as they snapped up attractive UK properties. But there were warnings that all was not well. In March 2015, Reuters cited the UK as a haven for illicit funds.
Transparency International’s Executive Director, Robert Barrington, in 2015 said, “There is growing evidence that the UK property market has become a safe haven for corrupt capital stolen from around the world, facilitated by the laws which allow UK property to be owned by secret offshore companies.” Over 36,000 properties in London, mainly in highbrow areas, are said to be owned by offshore companies. Various reports cited London as a money laundering haven, but the UK Government was conspicuously silent on the issue, turning a blind eye as millions of dollars poured in.
Sceptics may suggest that the UK Government is looking for how to fund the bill for its Brexit divorce from the European Union or to finance its budget deficit. Whatever the reason, the new UK law that introduces ‘Unexplained Wealth Orders’ is a carefully devised move that could see a massive transfer of wealth from Nigeria and the countries mentioned above to Britain.
From January 31, 2018, new powers enable the UK government to query ‘Unexplained Wealth’ and seize assets whose funding source cannot be explained. UK Courts can grant Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) and forfeit property for which the owners are unable to prove the source of fund. The properties will be transferred to the UK Government and sold to fund their law enforcement efforts.
Whilst the narrative in the UK is that the plan is to tackle Russian oligarchs, Nigerians will undoubtedly be affected due to their love for all things British and the threshold is just £50,000 (N25 million).
According to a British law firm, Mishcon de Reya, the requirements for obtaining the UWOs include that “there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the known sources of the respondents’ lawfully obtained income would have been insufficient for the purposes of enabling them to obtain the property.”
There is a special focus on politically-exposed persons, but there is an implied presumption of guilt for non-politicians too. Interestingly, the orders can be obtained even if the property was purchased before the law came into effect and it does not matter where the property is located, whether or not the person resides in the UK or whether there may be other persons who hold the property. In summary, it will be relatively easy for UK Government to secure these orders against foreigners.
Those who have followed that standard advice to have two or even three layers of nominee ownership to shield the identity of the true owner will find themselves as targets. This standard structure, advocated by offshore specialists who set up trusts in Mauritius, British Virgin Islands and other havens, will not offer protection against UWO’s if the ultimate owner cannot explain the source of funds. The UK has already put in place the Beneficial Ownership register for Overseas Legal Entities. This means that a Nigerian who owns a UK property through a Mauritius-based Trust, for example, could see their names exposed and therefore need to prove the legitimacy of the source of funds.
However thankfully, for Nigerians there is a way out. This is one of those rare situations, where Nigerians should be extremely grateful to their government.
The ongoing Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme’s (VAIDS) tax amnesty is a potential escape. VAIDS allows Nigerians to regularise their tax status but importantly entails an asset declaration. This basically allows citizens to restate their income and assets over the last seven years and beyond. There is therefore hope of a valid defence against an UWO application. If a Nigerian is confronted with an UWO action, but had declared the asset and paid the right taxes no matter how many years after the purchase, it will be hard for the UK to justify a seizure.
Without the tax amnesty, Nigerians would be at serious risk, scrambling around to procure backdated tax clearance certificates which would be readily disregarded by the UK courts on the grounds that there would be no evidence of tax payment in the year under question. Of course, VAIDS was not designed as an amnesty for looted funds or hot money but it could offer a very valuable protection.
Nigerians have traditionally not paid taxes and have never been asked to fully explain their income. That era is over forever and with the volume of investments in the UK property market, we are particularly vulnerable. For the UK Government to dispute the validity of a VAIDS declaration that Nigeria has accepted and on which taxes have been paid, would violate the bilateral tax treaties between the two countries and would mean the UK questioning the legality of the Nigerian Government’s ongoing tax amnesty.
My simple advice to my fellow Nigerians first, is to thank President Muhammadu Buhari and his economic management team for this timely intervention but ask for an extension of time. Second, Nigerians should run, declare and regularise their tax status, so that the UK’s Unexplained Wealth law does not become an unexplained loss of wealth. Anyone ignoring this threat is doing so at his or her own peril.

·Olanitan, a tax lawyer, writes from South London

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Perspectives

When ‘fake news’ is actually ‘genuine news’

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Last weekend in faraway Madrid, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told the whole world that with President Muhammadu Buhari piloting the affairs of Nigeria, the country is in very safe and competent hands, and thus there is no cause for alarm.

The Minister, who spoke at a mini town hall meeting with the staff of the Nigerian Embassy in the Spanish capital and a cross section of Nigerians living in the European country on Saturday, added that contrary to the “fake news” being peddled on the Social Media, Nigeria is making steady progress, especially in revamping the economy, tackling insecurity and fighting corruption; the three cardinal programmes of the Buhari Administration
He said: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Social Media. Nigeria is neither at war nor in crisis.

“Contrary to what you may be reading on the Internet, the Buhari Administration is putting Nigeria on a solid footing, after the years that were eaten by the locust.”
Speaking further, he said naysayers are spending millions of naira to distort the true situation of things in Nigeria and to make the administration look bad.

The Minister added that the administration’s achievements should be evaluated against the background of the tough challenges that it has faced since coming into office on May 29, 2015.
“It is said that if you don’t know where you are coming from, you won’t know where you are going,” he said, listing the drastic fall in the price of crude oil, the low foreign reserves at $24 billion, the fact that the Federal Government was borrowing to pay workers’ salaries and the fact that many states were unable to pay salaries as some of those challenges.

Mohammed also said when the administration came into office, unpaid pensions had run into billions of naira in many states, contractors had abandoned sites across the country because they were being heavily owed, infrastructure was in poor state, power generation was 2,690 megawatts, billions were being paid as fuel subsidies to fat cats, corruption was the order of the day, while 20 of the 27 local governments in Borno State were under the firm control of Boko Haram.

Of course, Alhaji Mohammed was doing the job with which his portfolio insists he carries out which is to propagate the positive sides of the government in which he serves.
However, sadly for the Minister his attempts to lump virtually all reports in the Social Media as “fake news” (à la a certain Donald Trump?) is for me taking it a bit too far.

Yes, while it is true that a lot of news in the Social Media is fake and cannot be substantiated, that does not mean that every news item in the Social Media can be dismissed with the same wand.
Only recently, the whole world was tuned into a school in the US state of Florida when another mass shooting at an educational institution took place with the loss of 17 innocent souls by a disgruntled expelled student.
The incident, the 17th school shooting to have taken place in the US this year alone was carried by both the regular media and Social Media platforms.

However, what is even more impressive was the fact that the media (whether regular or Social) did not stop at just reporting the shooting incident, but went further to expose the fact that America’s top law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), had been warned of the possibility that Nikolas Cruz, the shooter, was a danger to society, but the agency failed to act with dire consequences.

Now wait for it, rather than the agency in question (FBI) adopting a siege mentality and dismissing the allegations as false (and even hiring people to defend them in the media) they owned up that they had actually received the information but deemed it not serious enough for further action.

The Bureau’s Director, Christopher Wray immediately acknowledged the lapse and promptly released a statement: “It is now clear that the warning signs were there and tips to the FBI were missed. We see the tragic consequences of those failures. We are still investigating the facts. I am committed to getting to the bottom of the incident.”

This is in spite of the fact that the agency receives thousands of reports every day of potential danger, making it not humanely possible to properly treat all of them!
Back home in Nigeria, the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, lamented just like his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, that they had got wind of the recent attack in which 39 people were slaughtered in Zurmi Local Government Area of the state, and yet the police and other security agencies failed to act.

Till today, the police have not refuted the governor’s claims or given a reasonable explanation as to why the brutal and callous acts have become an almost daily occurrence.
In fact rather than show some level of contrition, the Police spokesman, Mr Jimoh Moshood, in a very un-PRO-like manner called the Benue State governor a “drowning man”!
The PRO has not been punished neither has the police issued a public apology.

I vividly remember while interviewing the then FIFA Secretary General, Sepp Blatter, in Cairo during the FIFA U17 World Cup, which the North African country hosted in 1997, I asked him how FIFA acted on reports that they used to prevent Nigeria from hosting the U20 World Cup in 1995 and he pointedly told me that besides the regular media channels (back then there was no Social media), they had other sources to verify what is happening in their member nations.

FIFA had withdrawn the hosting rights close to the 1995 edition on the grounds of a meningitis outbreak in Nigeria.
It is the same thing with other governments and potential investors who have their ways of checking on the country they want to put their investments in.
So in as much as Alhaji Mohammed is right to portray the government in a positive light; he should also be quick to acknowledge flaws were necessary; because it is not possible to gloss over the loss of 73 lives in one night in Benue State or the murder of another 39 in Zamfara State or the multiple suicide blasts in Borno which left 18 dead and more than 50 others injured or the recent attack on a girls’ school in Yobe State.
Like we were told in Advertising/Public Relations 101 course, “A good product does not need much advertising or public relations”.

As soon as things generally improve in the country, no minister will need to tell us because both we the citizens living in Nigeria and those in other countries will notice the improvement!

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Perspectives

Stomach ulcer

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  1. Fire! Fire!! Fire!!!
    Fire in my breadbasket,Unquenchable with water,Flaming in my belly

  2. Fire! Fire!! Fire!!!

Fire in my chest,Far from a retardant’s reach,My heart is on fire

  1. Ethanol I gulp,Tobacco I chew,Intensified the agony becomes,I’ve been set aglow within.

  2. Hot pepper I guzzle,Spiced plantain I gobble,Bloated my stomach becomes,I am burning up.

 

 

In the last one week, there’s been an upsurge in stomach related symptoms in a Lagos community which has been ascribed to a new local alcoholic beverage in town. It was said to be a mixture of concentrated alcohol spiced with spicy herbs and alligator pepper!

The scene
Miss OPK walked into the consulting room clutching the upper part of the tummy, complaint was that of central upper abdomen pain. This symptom have been on and off over the last 3 years, usually brought on by hunger and her favorite (fried plantain), but relieved by milk. The most recent episode started 4 days prior to hospital visit.
This is classical of Peptic Ulcer Disease.

What it is
Peptic ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of the stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine. They’re usually formed as a result of inflammation caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, as well as from erosion from stomach acids. Most ulcers happen because of infection with the bacteria. An ulcer in the stomach is known as a gastric ulcer while that in the first part of the intestines is known as a duodenal ulcer.

The offending bacteria
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria transmitted via contaminated food, water (or other drinks) or utensils. It’s more common in countries or communities that lack clean water or good sewage systems. It can also be picked up through contact with the saliva or other body fluids of infected people.
It was discovered in 1982 and has been found to be the cause of most ulcers. These germs can enter the body and live in the digestive tract. After many years, they can cause sores, called ulcers, in the lining of your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine. Infection with H. pylori is common. About two-thirds of the world’s population has it in their bodies. For most people, it doesn’t cause ulcers or any other symptoms.
After H. pylori enters your body, it attacks the lining of the stomach, which usually protects one from the acid the body uses to digest food. Once the bacteria have done enough damage, acid can get through the lining, which leads to ulcers. These may bleed, cause infections, or keep food from moving through the digestive tract. Many people get H. pylori during childhood, but adults can get it too. The germs live in the body for years before symptoms start, but most people who have it will never get ulcers.

What gives it away
The most common symptoms of a duodenal ulcer are waking at night with upper abdominal pain or upper abdominal pain that improves with eating. With a gastric ulcer the pain may worsen with eating as gastric acid production is increased as food enters the stomach . The pain is often described as a burning or dull ache. Other symptoms may include bloating, belching, farting, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, vomiting of blood or passage of dark stool (both could point to bleeding) weight loss (in gastric ulcer), water brash (rush of saliva after an episode of regurgitation to dilute the acid in esophagus ) and foul breath (halitosis).

Causes
Infection with H.pylori, some types of pain medications (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs-NSAIDS), taking some other medications along with NSAIDS (such as such as steroids, anticoagulants, low-dose aspirin, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors- SSRIs etc) can greatly increase the chance of developing ulcers. Though stress, spicy foods, alcohol, and smoking don’t cause ulcers, they can keep them from healing quickly or make it worse and intake of caffeine/coffee is also said to be less contributory.
The catch
A comprehensive history and examination followed by some tests.
1. Laboratory tests for H. pylori; This is to determine whether the bacterium H. pylori is present in the body. It can be detected using a blood, stool or breath test (Urea Breath Test-UBT) The breath test is the most accurate.
2. Endoscopy; A scope is used to examine the upper digestive system (endoscopy). If an ulcer is detected, small tissue samples (biopsy) may be removed for examination in a lab.
3. Upper GI series; During the procedure, the client stands or sits in front of an x-ray machine and drink barium, a chalky liquid. Barium coats the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine so the shapes of these organs can be seen more clearly on x-rays.
4. Computer Tomography (CT) scan; can help diagnose a peptic ulcer that has created a hole in the wall of the stomach or small intestine.

Negative outcomes
Gastrointestinal bleeding, perforation (leading to peritonitis), Anemia, Stomach (gastric) outlet obstruction and in the long term may lead to cancer.

Treatment
Drugs that reduce acid secretion and appropriate antibiotics to eradicate H. pylori.

Preventive measures
You can protect yourself from getting an H. pylori infection with the same steps you take to keep other germs at bay; 1. Basic hand washing hygiene after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food. 2. Avoid food or water that’s not clean. 3. Do not eat anything that is not cooked thoroughly. 4. Avoid food served by people who are not hygienic.

Advice
Please visit a doctor as appropriate as other conditions (such as GERD; literally, heartburn) mimic peptic ulcer.

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Perspectives

How orientation, background influences marital relationship

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To a very large extent, the orientation, cultural, parental and societal background of every individual influences the person’s behavioural pattern.
If such orientation is wrong and is not refined by virtue of academic exposure, better social education, personal encounter with Christ and some other factors, the tendency to carry wrong behavioural patterns into premarital and marital relationship is very high.

For instance, two boys and two girls are born into a home where they have a very terrible father in terms of marital relationship. The man regularly maltreats their mother right before them, and cares very little about her feelings and emotions.

The boys grow up into men with a conviction never to behave like their father in handling of wives. The girls grow up into ladies with a conviction to be very careful with men. “No man will ever be allowed to treat me like daddy treats mummy,” they say.

So, such ladies eventually receive marriage proposals from ‘innocent good’ men and begin to display ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude to the dismay of potential male spouses. Several minor issues that evolve are blown beyond proportion by the ladies, with the tone of human right activism and readiness for contention. Issues are created where there are none and the guy is wondering: “What is so serious about this issue? What have I done wrong to warrant all this overwhelming reaction I am getting?” My brother, you are not the problem. Orientation, background is the challenge here.

You can imagine what will be her reaction if such a guy proposes the idea of a joint bank account to a girl whose mother had suffered into riches, after her father lost his job, only for her father to later hijack her mother’s sweat and use it to service some strange women, abandoning, despising and maltreating her mother.

Some guys also grow up under such maritally failed fathers with an orientation that it was correct to treat wives the way their father treated their mother and when they go into marital relationship, they perceive and treat their wives the way they treat their material possessions.

Both male and female children could have also grown up under a very terrible mother and a good father. It could have been their mother who consistently disrespected, cheated, harassed and maltreated their father and the males grew up with a conviction that women are always bad and dangerous, and should never be granted any iota of freedom. These are the husbands that eventually enslave wives in today’s society.

The females could have also grown up with a conviction to treat husbands better than their mother did, only to get marriage proposals from guys that have prepared their minds on how to pocket any woman that they would end up having as wives. So, ‘innocent good’ wives end up suffering unnecessarily in the hands of wrongly oriented men, despite all efforts, made by the ladies to be good wives.
It is equally possible for girls whose mother had frustrated their father, to think that it is a proper way to handle a husband. So, they end up dealing terribly with innocent husbands, who may struggle consistently to impress and love them, without succeeding.

The influence of orientation and parental background on marital relationship even extends to family economics.
If a man grew up in a home where his father did nothing but left his mother to shoulder all financial responsibilities of the family, the man is likely not to contribute a penny to the financial upkeep of his family when he gets married. You cannot accuse him of not loving his wife and family based on that character because he sees that lifestyle as a norm. If it was his father that shouldered all financial responsibilities when he was growing up, he is not likely to expect any financial contributions from his wife, when he marries.

If it was a girl that grew up seeing her father shoulder every single financial responsibility, she is not likely to contribute anything financially to her family when she marries, even when her husband’s income is a peanut when compared to hers. Don’t accuse her of not loving her husband because she is doing what she believes is right.

On the other hand, if it was her mother that shouldered financial responsibilities when she was growing up, she is likely to aspire and actually do the same thing. It is only education, informal exposure to learning or change of orientation along the path of growing up that can make things happen differently.

Any child who grew up in a home where he or she has been made to believe that no human being from any other tribe in this world except his or her own tribe of origin is reliable, will definitely have challenges in relationship with people of other tribes.

These are some of the background checks that ought to be made during courtship. This is why I wonder whether those who get married without courtship actually understand the meaning and implications of marriage.
How do you know whether or not you are wrongly oriented or have a wrong attitudinal influence from your parental or cultural background? Weigh you attitudes with the word of God in the Bible and embark on mind renewal because any philosophy that possesses you and designs your mindset has possessed your entire life.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Then, you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
You can place an order for a copy of the book, MAKING YOUR MARRIAGE WORK by Albinus Chiedu. You can equally tune your radio to SMA104.7fm every Saturday by 7:15am for MARITAL ISSUES with Albinus Chiedu. You can also listen online via www.smafmonline.com. Your marriage shall be a blessing and a testimony in Jesus name.

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