The agency in a statement titled, “RE-Osinbajo in trouble over N90 billion FIRS election fund– Timi Frank” urged Nigerians to ignore the report, stressing that, it will pursue libel actions against him.
FIRS also stated it did not spend and could not have spent taxpayers money for political ends, noting that, Frank is seeking cheap popularity and relevance.
The attention of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, has been drawn to publication in some online and daily newspapers by a certain Comrade Timi Frank, the former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who claimed that the FIRS supported the APC, through the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with a phantom N90 billion.
The FIRS wishes to state as follows:
1 That the entire allegation being spread by one Frank Timi that the Federal Inland Revenue Service spent N90 billion to fund the last election is mendacious, wicked, malicious and a calculated attempt to smear the image of the Service and that of his Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
This campaign of calumny and vilifying false claims are entirely libellous, unfounded in fact, irresponsible and a brazen assault on the integrity of the Service as a responsible and accountable organisation and demonstrates an abysmal ignorance of the budgetary and expenditure process of the FIRS.
2 That in the last four years since Mr. Tunde Fowler has supervised operations at the FIRS, the agency had not received up to N100 billion, per annum, as Cost of Collection from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC.
FAAC is a public institution, whose records are open to the public.
3 That it is from the remittances from FAAC—which had never grossed up to N100 billion, PER ANNUM, that FIRS pays the salary and emoluments and trains it’s over 8000 staff, runs over 150 offices and provides for other needs of the Service.
4 That given the above, IT IS NOT PLAUSIBLE nor DOES IT MAKE ANY SENSE that FIRS will commit its resources to a phantom campaign of N90 billion as suggested by Mr. Timi Frank and FIRS does not fund political associations.
5 That FIRS is a creation of statute and its activities are governed by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and financial regulations and thus, IT IS NOT PLAUSIBLE, that its funds could be expended in such a cavalier manner as suggested by Mr. Timi Frank.
6 That FIRS Budget and expenditure approval processes pass through the Budget Office and the Ministry of Finance before such is presented to the National Assembly for Appropriation into Law.
The National Assembly committees, consisting of all parties and inclinations exercise oversight function on all agencies of the Federal Government to ensure agencies keep to the letters of the Appropriation Act.
Thus FIRS’ operations are subjected to Scrutiny and close monitoring by the National Assembly, the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee and the Ministry of Finance.
7 It is therefore unthinkable, malicious and irresponsible for the said Frank to insinuate or infer that N90 billion or any part thereof could be spent illegally and without budgetary approval.
8 It is equally alarming to note that this injurious falsehood and blackmail could find space in our mass media without proper scrutiny particularly with the availability of the Freedom of Information Act, which broadly allows Nigerians access to information on the expenditure of public funds by government agencies.
This all goes to show an orchestrated and invidious decision by paid agents to discredit the Service in order to achieve their diabolical ends, which is at variance from the interest of Nigerians.
9 We ask members of the public to ignore the claims of Mr. Timi Frank, with the ignominy it deserves as the former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC is seeking cheap popularity and relevance.
10 It is in the light of the foregoing observations, the FIRS demands an unequivocal apology from the said Mr. Timi Frank and a well-publicised public apology in three major and leading newspapers within the next 24 hours.
The FIRS shall pursue claims for aggravated damages in libel and injurious falsehood against the said Mr. Frank if he fails to meet these conditions in the next 24 hours.
11 This invidious publication is targeted as derailing the revenue generation efforts for the three tiers of government in the nation. This is calculated economic sabotage and hereby referred to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation officially.
12 We finally wish to assure all Nigerians that the FIRS did not spend and could not have spent taxpayers money for political ends. For the avoidance of doubt, every kobo paid by taxpayers goes straight to the Federation Account domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria and that the FIRS does not possess the constitutional right to touch the said account or appropriate any kobo there from to itself.
The FIRS wishes to reassure members of the public that the FIRS is a PUBLIC TRUST, which the agency operates on behalf of Nigerians. Taxpayers money-including the operational funds of the Service- are sacred.
FIRS remains committed to public accountability and transparency in the sacred mandate of tax collection and public expenditure.