Sequel to the series of outrageous and bogus demand notices issued to Nigeria Watchdog newspaper by the Ifeanyi Okeke-led Imo Internal Revenue Service, (IIRS) an insider source has revealed why the Anambra State born Acting Chairman of the state internal revenue collecting agency is after the newspaper outfit.
The source who does not want his name in print told this reporter that Dr ifeany Okeke who was the Personal Assistant to the Imo State Commissioner for Finance Dr Doris Uzoka- Anite, has vowed to do everything he can to shut down Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper for unveiling his incompetence and the numerous nefarious activities allegedly perpetrated by the management and staff of the agency.
He also revealed that Okeke who was drafted to the IIRS by his erstwhile boss and Principal was not happy that Nigeria Watchdog newspaper, in line with the organization’s principle of adhering to the role of a whistle blower, unveiled the disparity between how much the revenue agency collected monthly during the 7-month administration of former Governor Emeka Ihedioha and how the figures have not only dwindled but nose-dived since the emergence of Dr Ifeanyi Okeke and his team who came from Lagos took over the administration of IIRS.
According to the said report, “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 Anite 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 HR Mrs Chika Okoliefbe who was fingered as the arrow head of the alleged scam has finally been relieved of the assignment.
Information available to our news desk indicates that since Dr Ifeanyi Okeke and his team, 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 consistently declined compared to what it was before they came on board.
A source at the IIRS who pleaded anonymity, in a chat with this reporter, said, “with 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, 1,718,841,579.
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 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.
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.”
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 with a married woman 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 fome functioning, charged for impersonation, diversion of revenue” also stated that, “The series of 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 “Mr Figures” 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 another source, “Mr Figures signs all important and crucial document 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”
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 document 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 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.”
The source also revealed that the IIRS has concluded plans to use government might and the paraphenia of office to clamp down on Nigeria Watchdog newspaper for performing its constitutional duty.
He further said that, “the only way that Nigeria Watchdog newspaper would be free from intimidation, harrassment and persecution by IIRS is to tender unreserved apology to the management of the revenue collecting agency, retract the offensive publications and desist from exposing the rot therein or be prepared to face the consequences.”
Recall, that Nigeria Watchdog newspaper, in a report in its edition of June, 24, 2022 captioned, Shocker, Imo IGR drops by 50%, Allegedly in Private “Pockets”-why Human Resource Manger was suspended” narrated in graphic details how the revenue base of the state government has been on a downward slope since the emergence of the Dr Ifeanyi Okeke-led management of IIRS, under the supervision of the current Commission for Finance, Dr Anite.