The immediate foremer head of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Mohammed Nami has denied allegations that he approved N11bn ‘suspicious’ payments after his exit from office.
In a rejoinder to a publication by online newspaper, The Cable, Nami beat his chest that he inherited only N1.4 billion in the purse of the FIRS when he assumed office, but left N129 billion in the purse of the Service.
His words on making an approval for payment of N11 billion and hurriedly leaving the country; “Nothing can be further from the truth. The entire story was sensationally written with mischief that took the ordinary events of my work out of context with the intent to tarnish my image.
“First and foremost, I want to categorically state that after my exit as FIRS Executive Chairman, I made no such approvals as claimed in the report.
“Fundamentally: It is important to note that no payment was made by the Service after the announcement of my pre-retirement leave as claimed by this story. An approval for payment in the Service is one step of a journey to payment. It is the custom that when a new Executive Chairman resumes office, he would review, validate and make final authorisation before any payments can be made.
“It is important to note for the record that all decisions reached and extant liabilities/ commitments of the Service during my stay in office are contained in the handover notes I made available to my successor, Mr. Zacch Adedeji. He is fully briefed on everything. For clarity the items listed in the Cable Newspaper Report were part of the N16 billion outstanding commitments contained in our handover note.
“The N5 billion paid to Joint Tax Board was paid to fund the activities of Presidential Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy Reforms two months before I left office. It was paid after we received a letter to that effect from the office of Mr. President signed by Zacch Adedeji himself.
“The report maliciously attempts to portray a picture that I hurriedly left the country on September 16th after these so called “suspicious approvals” were made. Again, nothing can be further from the truth. If I traveled out of the country on the 16th of September, how then did I attend the handover ceremony with Mr. Zacch on the afternoon of Monday 18th September 2023? That handover ceremony was covered by the media, and can be cross-checked. …
“I want to categorically state that every decision I made within the time of my stay in office was within the ambit of the law and within the lawful powers I exercised then as Executive Chairman….”
The Cable had reported that after his sudden exit as chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami went on to approve N6 billion as payments to several contractors and consultants.
The online newspaper said officials privy to the development said the former FIRS boss directed staff of the finance, audit, and internal affairs departments to work on Saturday and Sunday to perfect some financial transactions while files were allegedly moved from the agency’s headquarters to his house, where they were said to have been “backdated and signed”.
Nami was also said to have moved about N5 billion to the account of the Joint Tax Board (JTB) from the FIRS account.
According to an official, the FIRS director, finance & accounts, was compelled to approve the payments despite allegedly warning Nami about the potential ripple effects.
Nami was said to have assured the FIRS director that there was no cause for alarm, reportedly saying the incoming chairman of the agency would not find out about the approvals.
The payments approved by Nami included N5,628,496,823.04, $863,293.00 and £8,780 for express payment to 196 beneficiaries — all in one day.
Nami allegedly approved the payment of N1,409,950,625.00 to 807 nominees for a ‘Business Case for Strategic Leadership’ retreat which is billed to take place in November 2023 while N250,325,000 was greenlit for FIRS Data Mining Management and Analytics in Taxation Course.
The ex-FIRS chairman also allegedly approved N221,311,840.00 to be paid to Odey Jacob & 611 others for “Skill Development and Management Improvement Workshop Training”; N42,398,000.00 was earmarked as payment to Mawo Dav Printing Nig. Ltd for the “production of letterhead papers & call cards” while another N36,513,718.75 was approved for Gebos Nig. Ltd — also for the production of letterhead papers and call cards.
He was said to have also appropriated N81,488,127.00 to himself — and nine others — as estacode for a study visit to the Inland Revenue of Malaysia while N54,979,390 was approved for to CDP Partnership Ltd as payment for engagement as a consultant for “stage I &II quantity surveying services”.
Other approvals were:
▪︎N591 million was approved as estacode payment for official trips made by staff to Rwanda, Kenya, and Morocco, among other countries.
▪︎ One billion as payment for the training of staff on tax disputes, capital market operations, and tax evasion strategies, among other modules.
▪︎ Engagement fee for consultancy work in respect of “education and enlightenment of civil society organisations”, Nami approved over N173 million to Juzor & Company Ltd. while Jiop Azzy Ltd was listed to receive over N132 million for the same purpose.
▪︎ Payment of over N100 million to Skymart Capital Trading Ltd, Toplead Consulting Limited and Alim and Associates Limited for consultancy, monitoring and evaluation services.