Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) said in Abuja on Wednesday that the N5 billion fraud being investigated by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was pilfered from the operational/travel funds of its expenditure budget and not from taxpayers’ money.
“No taxpayers’ money is missing in the Federal Inland Revenue Service”, the agency quoted its Chairman, Mr Babatunde Fowler in a press statement.
At least nine very top officials of FIRS have been under EFCC scrutiny in the past few months for allegedly receiving at least N5 billion as travel allowance without embarking on any trip.
Head of the Coordinator Support Services Group, Mr Peter Hena who allegedly authorized the payment left the country ostensibly for health reasons.
EFCC sources claimed that during interrogation, some of the staff confessed that although they did not travel, they just found huge amounts of money in their accounts but were asked to remit the money to a particular account and keep a percentage.
But the Wednesday statement Fowler said “We have a relationship with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. We have a partnership; through which we combat evasion of taxes. People don’t want to get into trouble with EFCC. So, they pay on time.
“On the DTA (Duty Tour Allowance), it claimed that some staff applied for and were granted, allowances to travel for official trips.
“Some are alleged not to have travelled for the number of days, for which they were slated. The EFCC is looking into that.
“Sometimes, it is good to have a third party investigate matters like this instead of having a staff investigate another staff. An investigation by a third party is more objective. FIRS has since taken steps to remediate this.
“The EFCC will soon complete its investigation. Anybody found guilty will be dealt with through our administrative process.”
According to the statement, Fowler further clarified that taxes collected by the FIRS are not paid to the coffers of the Service.
“Rather, all taxes, are paid directly into federation account electronically, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The issue at stake in this inquiry are operational/travel funds within our expenditure budget.
“The FIRS does not have access to taxpayers’ money. Its operations are funded by the appropriation of the National Assembly, through monthly remittances by the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC.”
Fowler added that FIRS acknowledges the statutory rights and responsibilities of anti-corruption agencies and other government agencies such as the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), State Security Services, SSS to inquire into the operations of the Service.
He promised that FIRS would continue to give access to agencies with statutory rights and all those who seek information on the operations of the Service.
“Invitations of officials of the Service by EFCC, the Police, SSS and ICPC to shed light financial transactions and operations of the Service, in the past, are not uncommon and are continuous.”
He noted that the FIRS is a public trust, which we operate on behalf of Nigerians, while also denying that no officer of the FIRS is at large.