-Charged for Impersonation, diversion of Revenue

The series of alleged irregularities, disregard for due process and non-compliance with laid down rules, guidelines and procedure at the Imo Internal Revenue Service IIRS has taken a new dimension as Dr Tony Nkemakolam, the man said to be at the centre of several controversies rocking the establishment who had also been parading himself as Group Head of the IIRS has been banned by a Magistrate Court sitting in Owerri, the Imo state capital from acting in that capacity forthwith.He is charged for impersonation and diversion of Imo state Revenue.

The order which copy was made available to this reporter reads in part,”That the complainant is ordered to put the accused person/Respondent on notice with all accompanying court process.

“That both the complainant and accused person are to maintain and preserve RES on the matter pending the determination of the motion on notice.

” That the accused person is ordered to appear in court on the next adjourned date IN PERSON”.  

The order which was given by  the Owerri Magisterial Division on Tuesday 10th March, 2022,  according to some staff of the IIRS, has put         an end to the alleged excesses of Nkemakolam whose appointment and that of his colleagues who were unilaterally deployed to the IIRS by the commissioner for Finance, Dr Mrs Doris Anite had elicited public outcry, controversy and condemnation.

Investigation by Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper reveals that the Imo State Revenue Administration Law No 23 of 2019, sub-section I, paragraph A categorically states that, “members of the Board shall comprise the Chairman who must be a member of a relevant and recognized professional body. A person knowledgeable and experienced in tax matters and the Executive Head of the IIRS.”

The law, in paragraph B says that, “A Director or Head of the department shall be appointed from each of the following ministries on the recommendation of the commissioner of the under listed ministries: Article i, Finance, Article II, Budget and Planning, III Lands, Iv, Commerce, V, Transport and two persons from the IIRS who must not be below the level of Director prior to their appointments (D) The Attorney General or his representative who must not be below the level of Director, in addition to three other persons who  shall be members of relevant professional bodies who are knowledgeable in tax matters who shall be appointed on personal merit.”

The Secretary of IIRS who shall also be secretary of the Board shall also be an ex-officio member of the Board.”

Section 6, sub-section A of the law states that, “the chairman shall be the Chief Executive officer and Chief Accounting officer of IIRS in addition to being responsible for the execution of tax policies of the state government and day to day administration of the IIRS Sub-section C of the law states that “the chairman shall hold office for a period of 5 years and shall be eligible for reappointment for another  term of 5 years only.

cross section of Imo people, especially staff of the IIRS who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity wondered why the law which stipulates that the chairman of IIRS must swear to an oath of office before assuming office was jettisoned alongside other provisions that were designed to sanitize the system, ensure professionalism, accountability and quality service delivery by the commissioner for Finance, her superiors and cohorts hence the IIRS became an all comers affair, while those who should speak out looked the other way.”

It was also gathered that prior to the emergence of the current Board of IIRS, Dr Nkemakolam  took oath of office alongside the former chairman of the Board.

According to a source who pleaded anonymity, “Nkemakolam  signs all important and crucial documents while the chairman, Dr Okeke who didn’t swear to an oath of office watches like a mole and lame duck. Because he did not swear to an oath of office”

“The Governor appointed Dr Nkemakolam as a member of the former Board which was dissolved. A board member is a non-executive position but being a cohort of the Commissioner for finance,he allocated himself the office of Group Head, which is unconditional  and started acting as such.

“There is no place in the law that the term Group Head is written, it’s the making of Dr Tony.

“Because his signature is on official documents he now assumed the office and started making deals with tax payers and diverting revenue that are meant to go into government account.”

A top civil servant who does not want his name in print said, “it is obvious that deploying eighteen people with alleged questionable background and antecedents from different places to oversee the management and administration of IIRS in absolute disregard of constitutional provisions, laid down rules, procedure and guidelines articulated in the Imo State Revenue Administration Law No 23 and the amended version of 2021 is aimed at  achieving ominous and sinister aims and objectives that are not in tandem with the overall interest of Imo people who are the victims. Besides neither the Imo State revenue Administration Law No 23 of 2019 nor the amended version of 2021 has provision for Group Head either in substantive or acting capacity. So why the aberration, if there is no hidden agenda.”

Others who spoke in the same vein wondered why members of the Imo State House of Assembly who made the law including the House Committee on Finance and Appropriation did not deem it fit to question the abnormally for the period it lasted.

“Honestly, this development aside posing many unanswered questions, to a very large extent indicts the leadership and members of the Imo state house of assembly who for inexplicable reasons failed to ensure compliance with or question disregard for a law they painstakingly made.”

A source at the IIRS who spoke to this reporter said, “Following a publication by Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper that highlighted the numerous irregularities in the IIRS, the Personal Assistant to the Commissioner for Finance started deploying Heads of Departments from IIRS to the ministry of finance and other ministries  in a bid to legitimize 18 of her aides she deployed to the IIRS even when there is presently no waiver for employment in the state civil service.”