Northern Nigerian Breaking News

FIRS rejects 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.

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.

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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.

“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 added that the commission had been very active in child online protection and had deployed child line protection protocol.

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

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.

“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.

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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.

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



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