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.
The petition signed by Oluwasegun Abifarin and Olawale Abideen, its BOT Chairman and President respectively was 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 the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, over 80 per cent of the annual revenue of the three tiers of government still come from oil earnings.
They observed that the serious decline in the price of oil in recent years, has led to a decrease in the funds available for distribution to the states and triggered the need for state governments to generate adequate revenue from internal sources.
They said that NGIJ’s 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.
They gathered that on December 29, 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 the state’s IGR base.
“These include looking at the excess bank charges, high network individuals, withholding tax on dividends and interest and deposits against banks operating in the State from May 29, 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 per cent Withholding Tax on Credit Interest monies and conclusive liability against the 12 banks operating in Nasarawa State, 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 the completion of the 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 investigations 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 several others similar manner.
“This malfeasance, we gathered, is being replicated in States like Niger, Ekiti and several others, 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 to save the nation from this deep rot that can collapse the present efforts of government to reshape the nation against the looming economic challenge of Covid 19.”