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FIRS attempts to bail Fowler out, denies giving N40bn for APC campaign

PDP states position on leaked memo querying FIRS for discrepancies in revenue collections

The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) has denied allegations that it gave out N40 billion to be used as campaign funds to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The tax revenue organisation in a statement on Monday, lamented that the reports of fraud involving various amounts it allegedly released were false.

The denial is coming on the heels of reports that the former chairman of the organisation, Babatunde Fowler was mentioned in an alleged misappropriation of N40 billion in the presidency.

Fowler, who was removed last week by President Muhammadu Buhari, reportedly drew the ire of the presidency over his inability to account for the funds.

Consequently, the presidency has reportedly ordered a full-scale investigation into how the money was spent with the aim of bringing the culprits to book.

An online media platform had reported that the fund was purportedly used for the 2019 election campaign and this did not sit well with those at the seat of power.

While Fowler is said to be outrightly involved in the matter, top officials in the presidency had vowed to punish other collaborators including a powerful figure in Aso Rock.

But the FIRS, in the statement signed by its Head of Communications and Servicom Department, Wahab Gbadamosi, insisted that the issue which started from the APC former spokesman, Timi Frank, was a campaign of “calumny, vilifying, libelous, unfounded in fact, irresponsible and a brazen assault on the integrity of the Service.”

The statement read: “First it was N90billion, but now N40billion. Which is which? It took a disgruntled politician to convey the fake news of N90illion, now it is the services of an unquestioning PR newswire that is passing on the unsupported, baseless N40illion bogus allegation. Whichever way whoever is behind this, a lie is a lie.”

The FIRS said it has not received up to N100 billion, per annum, as Cost of Collection from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) in the last four years, adding that the Committee is a public institution whose records are open to the public.

The Service insisted that it was not possible to commit all its resources to a phantom political campaign as alleged by Frank.

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It added: “That it is from the remittances from FAAC—which had never grossed up to N100 billion per annum that FIRS pays the salary and emoluments and trains its over 8000 staff, runs over 150 offices and provides for other needs of the Service.

“That FIRS is a creation of statute and its activities are governed by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and financial regulations and thus, IT IS NOT PLAUSIBLE, that its funds could be expended in such a cavalier manner as suggested by Mr. Timi Frank.

“That FIRS budget and expenditure approval processes pass through the Budget Office and the Ministry of Finance before such is presented to the National Assembly for Appropriation into Law. The National Assembly committees, consisting of all parties and inclinations exercise oversight function on all agencies of the Federal Government to ensure agencies keep to the letters of the Appropriation Act. Thus FIRS’ operations are subjected to scrutiny and close monitoring by the National Assembly, the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee and the Ministry of Finance.

“It is therefore unthinkable, malicious and irresponsible for the said Frank to insinuate or infer that N90 billion or any part thereof could be spent illegally and without budgetary approval.”

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