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FIRS kicks against additional tax to fund child’s online access protection bill



The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has kicked against imposing additional taxes and levies on business owners to fund the child’s online access protection bill.

Mr Mathew Osanekwu, who represented the Chairman, FIRS, Mr Zacch Adedeji, made this known when he appeared before the House Committee on Justice in Abuja on Tuesday.

NEWSVERGE reports that the committee is holding a public hearing on a bill to provide for the Child Online Access Protection Bill 2023.

This bill also included other issues of online violence against Nigerian children and related matters.

Adedeji said FIRS had already been given a target, and instead of leveling additional burden through taxation to fund the bill to become an act, it should be funded through appropriation.

According to him, the impression we have is that the funding will be through a levy.

We already have eight different levies, and I advised that the funding should come by way of appropriation.

He added that this became necessary since FIRS was charged with collecting revenue for the government.

Speaking in support of the bill, he said: “Our position is that FIRS fully supports the bill, and its intention is a great initiative.

“We have to adopt global best practices; we observed that funding to make it happen is also in the bill, and in this, we have raised issues,” he said.

Mr Abang Abua, Deputy Director, Legal, representative of the Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Communication Commission, Dr. Aminu Maida, said the commission was concerned about the method of funding in the form of taxation.

“We are concerned about tax because our operators are already inundated with taxes,” he said.

He said the commission had been very active in child online protection and had deployed child line protection protocol.

Also speaking, Ms Pwadumoi Okoh, Deputy Director, Legal, National Human Rights Commission, who represented the chairman, said the bill is a proactive step to ensure the rights of children are protected.

She, however, said the commission had observed some errors in the bill and submitted its inputs to the house.

“We suggest that the committee should explore some other relevant Nigerian laws instead of duplicating efforts in agencies where such laws exist.

“We should look at other acts of the agencies of government that have similar mandates so as not to have interagency rivalry.

Rep. Usman Kumoh (APC-Gombe), who represented the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas, said the house would continue to protect the rights of the child.

“We will continue to protect the interests of the children on a moral and legal basis.

All hands must be on deck to protect children from being harmed.

“Nigeria cannot live in isolation in the digital world, and our children must not be exposed to the dangers of the internet,” he said.

He said the bill must be done collaboratively between parents, and service providers.

This, according to him, ensures that children are protected and adults will not be able to take advantage of their rights.

He said the bill was not targeted at taxing anybody, adding that what the house was demanding was to take part of the existing money to fund the bill.

Rep. Olumide Osoba, Chairman, House Committee on Justice, said the bill was straight, adding that it was meant to ensure that the service providers safeguarded the Internet for children.

He said the house was indebted to make the law, adding that the bill before its final passage would be fine-tuned through stakeholders’ engagement.

He said the ministry of communication and the NCC would monitor, adding that no additional levy would be on anyone.

The committee said the FIRS should be more interested in protecting the Nigeria Act than in tax collection.

NEWSVERGE reports that other stakeholders that appeared at the committee sitting included the Ministry of Women Affairs and the Data Protection Agency, among others.

Femi Ogunshola

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.



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