- FIRS chief says missing billions not taxpayers’ money
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) a few months ago began investigation into a missing N5 billion at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), after noticing some irregularities in the disbursement of Duty Tour Allowance (DTA), but the head of the tax agency, Babatunde Fowler yesterday says the missing money didn’t belong to the Nigerian taxpayers.
“No taxpayers’ money is missing in the Federal Inland Revenue Service”, the agency quoted its chairman, Babatunde Fowler in a written statement, saying the missing money was pilfered from the operational/travel funds of its expenditure budget and not from taxpayers’ money.
Continuing, Fowler said: “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 appropriation of the National Assembly, through monthly remittances by the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC.”
The country’s anti-graft agency, EFCC, is looking into the disappearance of as much as N5 billion in the tax agency and is questioning at least nine very top officials at FIRS in the past few months for allegedly receiving the said amount in travel allowance without embarking on any trip.
Fowler, confirming the EFCC investigation, said “some staff applied for and were granted, allowances to travel for official trips. Some are alleged not to have traveled 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. Investigation by a third party is more objective. FIRS has since taken steps to re-mediate this. The EFCC will soon complete its investigation. Anybody found guilty will be dealt with through our administrative process.”
Per Second News learnt that Peter Hena, the head of the coordinator support services group at FIRS, allegedly authorized the N5 billion payment, and has left the country for health reasons. It is unclear which of the country he is receiving treatment from.
Some staff members of the tax agency have allegedly confessed to colluding with some officials to siphon the money.