The Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists, NGIJ has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to beam its searchlight on the malfeasance/manipulation associated with collection of the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR in Nasarawa and other states of the federation.
In a petition signed by Oluwasegun Abifarin, its BOT Chairman and Olawale Abideen, President; addressed to Mallam Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the anti-graft body, the group noted that despite the numerous sources of revenue available to the various tiers of government as specified in the1999 Constitution of Nigeria, over 80% of the annual revenue of the three tiers of government still comes from oil earnings
The serious decline in the price of oil in recent years, it observed, has led to a decrease in the funds available for distribution to the states and triggers the need for state governments to generate adequate revenue from internal sources.
The NGIJ submitted that its investigations have revealed that for the 12 banks that had swarmed around Nasarawa revenue collection pie since 1999, the coming of former governor Tanko Al-Makura in 2015 changed the tide.
The Investigators gathered that on the 29th December, 2016, a Forensic Accounting Consultancy firm based in Lagos was engaged by the Nasarawa State Board of Internal Revenue to assist in the improvement of Internally-Generated-Revenue (IGR) base of excess bank charges, high network individuals, withholding tax on dividends and interest and deposits against banks operating in the State from 29/05/1999 and for an initial period of 4 years based on the firm’s proposal.
The group submitted that after the completion of the assignment, the deducted but unremitted 10% Withholding Tax on Credit Interest monies by banks operating in Nasarawa State, came to a total final and conclusive liability against 12 banks stood at N3, 632,677,464.41 (Three Billion, Six Hundred and Thirty two Million, Six Hundred and seventy seven Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty four naira, Forty one Kobo)
“Shortly after completion of work, the Nasarawa State Government insisted that the firm should instead, deal with its own official facilitators and middlemen who allegedly entered a new deal with some of the banks to shortchange the whole exercise,” the NGIJ said.
NGIJ’s investigation further revealed that some of the banks whose final liability was as high as N151 Million naira was billed N8 Million. Another with an initial bill of N443 Million was given a new bill of N7 Million and others like that.
“This malfeasance, we gathered is being replicated in States like Niger, Ekiti and many of the States of the Federation; and it is the belief of the NGIJ that this act is a grand and deep conspiracy against the good people of Nigeria. We also believe this is the reason why there is under development in so many states as money that should have been used to develop these states are being diverted by some people,” the group noted.
According to the NGIJ, “our call for investigation is a patriotic duty by the NIGJ to save the nation from this steeping rot that can collapse the present efforts of government to reshape the nation against the looming economic challenge of Covid 19.”