The Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, is again stewed in another juice of fraud totaling over N70 billion being 4 percent Cost of Collection (CoC) it illegally collected between 2017 and 2020, according to documents seen by our reporter.
FIRS Chairman, Mohammed Mamman Nami and former Chairman, Babatunde Fowler are linked with the fraud alongside some highly placed officials in the Presidency, according to insiders.
The document which detailed how FIRS allegedly conspired with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to sell tax oil crude in naira instead of dollars to enable it collect 4% CoC illegally is now subject of a petition being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as well as the Directorate of State Services, DSS.
According to the document: “FIRS knows that by law and government policy, it’s prohibited from receiving 4% Cost of Collection on oil revenue. Since 2017 to 2020, FIRS has through conspiracy with willing allies, devised dubious ways of receiving 4% Cost of Collection (CoC) on oil revenue.
“In 2017, FIRS confirmed receiving unmerited CoC of over N10.8 billion by declaring that tax oil crude was paid for in naira, Nigeria’s local currency, instead of UD dollars. FIRS further claimed that the over N404 billion of tax oil proceeds was deposited in JP MorganChase Bank account in New York. This situation led to FIRS receiving CoC on proceeds from Tax Oil that was not declared to FAAC.
“The same illegal claims were repeated in 2018, 2019 and 2020 based on the unimaginable claims of selling Nigeria’s crude oil in naira,” the document said.
The break down of the alleged fraud is as follow: In 2017 with N404.83 billion collected as tax oil proceed, illegal CoC received was N16.19 billion; in 2018 N587.46 billion revenue was collected out which illegal CoC pocketed was N23.50 billion. In 2019, N461.94 billion revenue was collected of which illegal CoC was N18.48 billion; same process was repeated in 2020 during which N12 billion was illegally pocketed out of N300 billion revenue.
Total amount received within the four years was N1.754 trillion out which a total of N70.17 billion was illegally pocketed as CoC.
The petition before EFCC is demanding that FIRS refunds the sum of N70.17 billion illegally claimed as CoC on oil revenue between 2017 and 2020. It also demanded that FIRS should identify the account details through which it received the oil proceeds in naira.
Investigations showed that the scam was hatched in the days of Fowler as Executive Chairman of the FIRS. Nami, who took over from Fowler, also continued the trend, looting almost N30billion in one year.
Insiders at FIRS told our reporter that some senior staff raised the red flag on the anomaly of collecting CoC in naira as it gave much room for compromise and corruption, but their complaint was brushed aside.
A source at FIRS said this may have contributed to the shortfall in revenue collection in the days of Fowler. Recall that in August, 2019, Presidency queried Fowler over revenue shortfall.
The Presidency had in the query issued by deceased Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, expressed worry over the variance between budgeted revenue collection and actual collection from 2015 to 2018. In the query, Presidency expressed concern that revenue collected between 2015 and 2017 fell far short of that collected between 2012 and 2014.
Fowler’s response to the query may not have fully assuaged the suspicion of the Presidency as his tenure was not renewed.
President Buhari appointed Muhammad Nami on December 9, 2019 to succeed Fowler. However, rather than put an end to the abnormal CoC revenue in naira, Nami has continued with the trend.
It is not certain how much inroad the EFCC has made in its investigation, but an insider told our reporter that much ground has been covered. The source gave no further details as investigation is still ongoing.