-Why Human Resource manager was suspended
-Previous management padded actual monthly revenue- Adedeji
The alleged misappropriation of funds, embezzlement, dereliction of duty, abuse of office among other acts of official misconduct said to be the norm at the Imo Internal Revenue Service (IIRS) since Dr. Ifeanyi Okeke, a confidant, loyalist and former aide of the Imo State Commissioner for Finance, Dr Mrs Doris Anita assumed office as Chairman of the Revenue agency which Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper had always highlighted but were denied seem to have been confirmed in its entirety as the Human Resource manager, Mrs Chika Okoliegbe who was fingered as the arrow head of the alleged scam has finally been suspended by the state government .
Information available to our news desk indicates that since Dr Ifeanyi Okeke and his team, most of who are said to have been sacked from their duty posts in the banking sector for alleged fraud related offences took over the mantle of leadership at the IIRS, with the tacit support and approval of the Commissioner for Finance, Dr Anite, the state’s Internal Revenue profile has constituently declined compared to what it was before they came on board.
A source at the IIRS who pleaded anonymity, said, “since the advent of the Governor Emeka Ihedioha administration and the reforms it put in place, IIRS maintained an internal revenue monthly target of not less than N1b. For instance, in November, 2021, it was N1,99,32o,250 16, December, 2021, it came down to N1552,658.528.58, and January, 2022, N1,718,841,579.
Then, in February, 2022, when Dr Ifeanyi Okeke and his team took over, it declined to N855,812,539.92. In March, 2022 it was N996,802,928.43, while in April 8, it was, N847,758,488.37. The revenue agency, recorded an abysmal N649,370,396.03 as the figure for May 2022 despite its initial claim alongside the state governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma that the self acclaimed Dr Okeke-led transformation Team would in no distant time exceed and the 1billion naira IGR Monthly target.”
The source who expressed disappointment at the consistent rapid decline in the state IGR monthly target, wondered why it has been so, since the state has maintained the same revenue law, same staff strength, same revenue heads and tax payers, hence there is need for explanations to proffer answers to the many unanswered question.”
Recall, that Nigerian Watchdog Newspaper in a report in its March, 10,2022 edition captioned “Sex scandal rocks Imo Internal Revenue service, stated that, “Imo Internal Revenue Service (IIRS) formerly called the Board of Internal Revenue that has been on the front burner of public discourse for quite some time as a result of irregularities and non compliance with laid down rules, procedure and guidelines in the appointment of staff, management and sundry issues, is said to be presently rocked by a debilitating sex scandal.
Investigation by this reporter reveals that since the emergence of Dr Doris Uzoka Anite as commissioner for finance despite overwhelming public outcry and her controversial decision to deploy eighteen of her aides to man key positions in the IIRS as Technical Advisers things have gone gaga in the establishment.
Grapevine sources indicate that aside a litany of irregularities and discrepancies including alleged diversion and misappropriation of funds by the management of the establishment most of who are either aides or former aides of the Commissioner for Finance, Dr Doris Uzoka Anite, sexual harassment is also said to be at its peak as most targeted married women who refuse to play along are intimidated and threatened with termination of appointment.
A source in the Human Resource department who pleaded anonymity said, “hell has been let loose against young married women and newly married women who are staff of the IIRS, since the new sheriffs took over the helm of affairs. One of the Board members popularly known as “Figures is the arrow head of this reprehensible act of sleeping with young married women against their wish.”
“Any of the targeted married women who for any reason refuses to play along is slammed with disciplinary actions based on trumped up charges and allegations just to break her resolve.”
It was also gathered that the cat was let out of the bag when the Board member popularly called “Figures” was allegedly caught in the act right inside his office.
“As a result, the woman’s husband who stays in Ghana, has been threatening fire and brimstone, hence the marriage is presently heading for the rocks.”
Information available to our news desk indicate that the said “Mr Figures” who was a member of the former Board was retained because of his purported loyalty to the commissioner of finance who he reportedly works hands in gloves with. He was also accused of acting and parading himself as the defecto chairman of the IIRS intimidating and threatening young ladies with sack letters, suspension etc, if they refuse to play along with him.
“He reportedly brags that the commissioner has penciled him down as the next Executive Chairman of the Board once the Interim Management Executive from the Ministry of Finance completes its tenure in the two months.”
Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper in another report published in its March 24, 2022 edition with the caption, “Court Bans Group Head of IIRS, Nkemakolam from functioning, charged for impersonation, diversion of revenue” also stated that, “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 Acting 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.
The order which was given by Magistrate Court 5, in the Owerri Magisterial Division according to some staff of the IIRS, has put an end to the alleged excesses of Nkemakolam whose appointment and that of his other 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 appointment (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.
It was also gathered that prior to the emergence of the current Board of IIRS, Mr Figures took oath of office alongside the former chairman of the Board, with whom he served under.
According to a source who pleaded anonymity, “Mr Figures 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 that he allegedly is. 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 who is a borne of illegality he allocated himself the office of Group Head, an executive position and started acting as Group Head
There is no place in the law that the term Group Head is written, it’s the making of Dr Tony to swindle money from Tax payers for private use.
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.”
In a report published on the front page of its March, 29, 2022 edition, of the Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper, with the caption, “Tension, as plot to sack, replace IIRS staff thickens, the rider, “HR accused of carrying out hatched jobs, “we are querying for unethical conduct- HR” stated that, “Following the revelation that some staff of the Imo Internal Revenue Service IIRS were sexually harassed and the disclosure that there is alleged massive diversion of the states internally generated revenue, the Interim chairman of the agency, Dr .. Okeke is alleged to have, at the instance of the Commissioner for Finance Dr Doris Arute ordered the sack of over thirty staff of the revenue agency.
It was gathered that before now, those who are at the management cadre, including the Director of Finance, had been deployed to the ministries while a confidant of the Chairman who is among the 18 people deployed to the IIRS, formerly called the Board of Internal Revenue in questionable circumstances has taken over the position of Director of Finance which should under normal circumstances be occupied by a thorough bred carrier civil servant who is knowledgeable in Finance and administration. “But that is not the case at the moment. Besides most of those deployed to the IIRS by the commissioner do not owe allegiance to the State government because they are not career civil servants and didn’t swear oaths of office as stipulated in the civil service guidelines and laid rules guiding the establishment and operations of IIRS.”
According to a source, “while this is going, the management is secretly employing people who they are now paying peanuts against the normal civil salary range, even when there is no waiver for employment. As if adding insult to injury, the revenue base of the state is dwindling contrary to claims by the management at inception that they will raise N2billion naira monthly as IGR.”
It was gathered from a reliable source that last week Friday 15 people were issued with queries which many people say were hinged on frivolous allegations aimed at achieving prearranged sinister motive. Moveso, when 15 of these issued with queries are males and 10 of them females allegation contained in the queries.”
In what was described as a face saving device in several quarters, the commissioner for finance, Dr Doris Uzoka – Anite set up a committee to probe some of the allegations, as captured by Nigeria watchdog newspaper in its March 17, 2022 edition captioned, “Alleged sex scandal Imo Finance commissioner bows to pressure, sets up probe committee-Pro, head of debt management deployed.”
The report stated that, “sequel to the public outcry elicited by the lamentations of victims of sexual harassment at the Imo Internal Revenue Service, formerly called the Board of Internal Revenue, the commissioner for Finance, Dr Mrs Doris Anite seems to have finally bowed to pressure by setting up a committee to investigate the allegations against the culprits, most of who are said to be her aides and loyalists.
However, a source in the ministry who does not want her name in print said, they don’t have confidence in the committee and urged the commissioner to disband it and allow unbiased security operatives or a team from the Civil Service Commission to investigate the allegations stressing that, anything short of that amounts to window dressing or playing to the gallery and will end up as effort in futility.
Some staff of the IIRS who also spoke on condition of anonymity posited that, “the committee set up by the commissioner is a face i device aimed at dousing tension, divert attention and later give those involved a clean bill, because she will under no circumstance allow the committee she set up to indict her trusted aides who she personally deployed to the IIRS amidst overwhelming protests and condemnation from different quarters. Allowing that to happen will also have a spill-over effect on her, hence the entire process, from all indications is a smoke screen.”
Continuing, they said, “if that is not the case, why did the commissioner in her speech while inaugurating the committee, describe the sex scandal as frivolous and the handiwork of failed and disgruntled members of the opposition, thereby preempting the outcome of the investigation.”
Recall, that the Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper in its March 10,2022 edition published a report captioned, “Sex scandal rocks Imo Internal Revenue Service, as target married women cry out for help.
Reacting , the Head Corporate Communication , Imo State Internal Revenue Service, Olorunfemi Adedeji disclosed that the former management board of the agency padded figures that did not reflect the actual revenue generated monthly in the state.
On the current figure been generated by the board, Adedeji stressed that it is only through the Accountant General office that the actual figure being generated by the board as monthly IGR could be ascertained, adding that the current IGR figure of the state is above what is being speculated in some quarters.
He further reiterated that the current management of the board under the leadership of Dr. Okere is taking steps to hit 2.5 billion every month as IGR with the deployment of technology and through sanitization of the system whereby all revenue leakages in the state are reduced to the barest minimum.