Two years after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act 2019, the Network on Police Reforms (NOPRIN) has said that the provisions of the Act hold so many potentials in resolving most of the security challenges in Nigeria if strictly implemented.
The National Coordinator, NOPRIN, Mr. Ikule Emmanuel who stated this at a media parley organized by HURILAWS in partnership with NOPRIN and supported by MISEREOR in Lagos on Thursday noted that the objective of the Act was to provide a legal framework for the management and control of a special intervention fund for training and retraining of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force and for the provision of state-of-the-art security equipment and other related facilities for the enhancement of the skills of the officers of the Nigeria Police Force.
Emmanuel added that the Trust Fund Act covered all personnel of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), including auxiliary staff in Nigeria and abroad for the overall improvement and efficiency in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities.
He pointed out that the Act provided that the source of funding for the Trust Fund shall comprised of 0.5% of the total revenue accruing to the federation account, a levy of 0.005% of the net profit of companies operating business in Nigeria, any take-off grants, and special intervention fund as may be provided by the Federal, State and Local Government of Nigeria, such money as may be appropriated to meet the objectives of this Act by the National Assembly in the budget, aids, grants and assistance from international bilateral and multilateral agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, grants, donations, endowments, bequests and gifts, whether of money, land or any other property from any Source as well as money derived from investment made by the Trust Fund.
According to him, “While the tax of 0.005% of the Net Profits of the Company is minimal, the introduction of this tax means that Corporate Taxpayers will now have an additional tax liability to the already existing tax obligations imposed under relevant tax laws. The Act is however silent on the penalty for non-compliance and does not also provide for a timeline within which to remit the contribution.
“Companies doing business in Nigeria should also take cognizance of the additional tax liability now imposed by the Act and factor same in their annual budget for the stipulated six years period.”
While stating that the Act was silent on which agency of government was responsible for collection of the levy, he posited that one would ordinarily, expect that the Federal Inland Revenue Service would be responsible for the collection and enforcement of the levy as it was computed based on the profit of a company. This, he said, would also save collection costs.
“Though the Act sets up a Board, the Board is mostly responsible for setting out the policies and programs for meeting and carrying out the objectives of the Act and such other activities as are considered necessary for the attainment of the objectives of the Act. The Board is not charged with collection of the levy or enforcement of the Act”, he stated.
Speaking on the utilization of the Fund, he posited that the Trust Fund shall be utilised for the accomplishment of the objectives of the Act which includes the training of the officers of the Nigeria police Force, the overall improvement in the discharge of the duties of the Nigeria Police and for such other purposes incidental to or connected with the attainment of the objective of the Act.
Others according to him include; For meeting the training and re-training needs of the personnel of the NPF and its auxiliary staff within and outside Nigeria, for the enhancement of the skill of the personnel of the NPF and its auxiliary staff for improved proficiency in the use of operational equipment and machineries, for the overall improvement, performance and efficiency in the discharge of the duties and responsibilities of the NPF, for the purchase of the equipment, machineries, including operational vehicles for the NPF, for the construction of police stations, provision of living facilities such as quarters or barracks for the NPF, to finance the procurement of books, instructional materials, training equipment for use at the Police Colleges and such other similar training institutions and for such other purpose incidental to or connected with for the attainment of objective of this Act.
“The Act establishes the Police Trust Fund Management Board (the Board) for the management of the Trust Fund. The Board is empowered to set out policies and programs, approve disbursements of monies from the Trust Fund, scrutinise and approve projects and carry out other activities which are considered necessary for the attainment of the objectives of the Act. Reviewing progress and suggesting improvement within the provisions of the Act, updating the Federal Government on its activities and progress through annual and audited reports”, further stated.
On the lifespan of the Trust Fund, the NOPRIN boss said, “From the provisions of Section 27 of the Act, the Trust Fund is for a duration of six years, and upon expiration of the period, the Trust Fund is expected within six months to wind up its activities, settle liabilities and transfer all its assets to the Nigeria Police Force.”
The National Coordinator further submitted that there were also a number of issues that the Act was yet to address, among them are the nature of the levy, its tax treatment, collection and enforcement.
“Equally concerning is the fact that the Act does not define what “net profit” (upon which the levy is to be imposed) is. This should not be the case in a taxing legislation. There are several decided cases that have clearly indicated that there should be no ambiguity in a taxing legislation”, he said.
He, however, maintained that the training and re-training of the NPF officers cannot be over emphasized (especially on ACJA/ACJL) and implementation would ensure the provision of state-of-the-art security equipment and other related facilities for the enhancement of the skills of the officers of the Nigeria Police Force and for the overall improvement and efficiency in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities.
“There is also need for third party monitors (CSOs) to monitor the implementation of the Police Trust Fund Act 2019”, he concluded.
Photo: National Coordinator, NOPRIN, Mr. Ikule Emmanuel.
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