Nigeria to domesticate taxation agreements with three countries

By Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has submitted three bills to the Senate, seeking for an Act to domesticate and enforce agreements between Nigeria and three other countries, on the avoidance of double taxation.

In a letter addressed to the Senate President and read on the floor of the red chamber on Tuesday, President Buhari identified the three countries as South Korea, Sweden and Spain.

The bill seeks to promote stable and reliable tax regimes and improved cooperation between tax authorities through exchange of information between Nigeria and the partnering country.

It would also facilitate inter-state trade, economic and business activities as well as enable prospective investors to know the income tax obligation in each country and the tax incentives available.

Nigeria entered into the agreements on the avoidance of double taxation with the Kingdom of Sweden on November 18, 2004, while that of the Republic of South Korea was on November 6, 2006 and the Kingdom of Spain, on June 29, 2009.

These agreements, however, could not be enforced in Nigeria because they were not domesticated and backed by the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This is in line with the provisions of section 12 (1) of the Nigerian constitution (1999 as amended).

The section states that, “No treaty between the federation and any other country shall have the force of law to the extent that such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly.”

President Buhari according to the letter, reminded the lawmakers that “based on the interest of Nigeria and the economic vision of the present government, the coming into force of the agreements will no doubt facilitate the interchange of direct foreign investment.”

Gender discrimination
In another development, a bill seeking to eradicate all forms of discrimination against women in Nigeria failed to scale through the second reading, after the Senators rejected the bill in a voice vote.

The bill, sponsored by Senate minority whip, Senator Abiodun Olujimi, also seeks to incorporate and enforce certain provisions of the United Nations Convention on the protocol of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the rights of women in Africa.

A majority of the Senators voted against the bill, citing moral, traditional, and cultural issues among some tribes in Nigeria as factors that could hinder the implementation of such law when enacted.

One of the frontline supporters of the bill and an advocate of women empowerment, Senator Binta Garba described the action of her colleagues as rather unfortunate, stressing that a more aggressive advocacy would be carried out among the male Lawmakers.

“All what we are saying is that the women and the men should be treated equally irrespective of their gender,” Senator Binta added.