Ex-FIRS boss, Fowler In EFCC Office For Grilling
The immediate-past Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, is being grilled by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Confirming the development, the spokesperson of the anti-graft agency, Wilson Ewujare told PRNigeria that Fowler was not arrested as media reports claimed.
Ewujare, added that Fowler, who is still at their EFCC Lagos office as of the time of filing this report, was only invited to answer some vital questions that borders on his stewardship at FIRS.
It would be recalled that late Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari, had on August 8, 2019 queried the former top man of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) for what the Presidency considers as unacceptably dwindling tax revenue since 2015 when the Buhari’s administration took the helm of governance.
Kyari ordered Fowler to explain why in 2015, FIRS set N4.7 trillion target but was only able to make N3.7 trillion in the actual collection. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the target collections were N4.2 trillion, N4.8 trillion and N6.7 trillion but the actual collections were N3.3 trillion, N4.0 trillion and N5.3 trillion, respectively
. “…you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018,” Kyari demanded in the query.
But Fowler in his response, defended the performance of FIRS under him citing the fact that what was considered a fall in revenue was not as a result of misappropriated funds but actually a reflection of the state of the economy within the years under review.
However, President Buhari in an apparent signal that he fully backed his Chief of Staff’s actions against Fowler, did warn in his October 1, 2019 Independence Anniversary Speech saying: “Our revenue-generating and reporting agencies will come under much greater scrutiny, going forward, as the new performance management framework will reward exceptional revenue performance, while severe consequences will attend failures to achieve agreed revenue targets.”