A civil rights group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, has rejected the N70 million requested by the Federal Inland Revenue Services as company income tax.
The group described the reguest as “illegally”, alleging that its “consistency in our social justice Advocacy campaigns against maladministration is the reason for this latest attempt to silence our independent voice”.
In a media statement by the National coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA said, “The FIRS is on a vendetta and witch hunting adventure against the organisation for criticising the Federal Inland revenue services in a Punch interview in which the newspaper sought our opinion regarding its findings that the federal tax agency earmarked humongous amount in their 2021 budget as entertainment expenses to be paid for them by taxpayers”.
“How can the FIRS that has no power of oversight over CSOs be seen demanding for payment of COMPANY’S INCOME TAX from a body that the CORPORATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION directed by law not to ever engage in business or any profitable venture? This is insanity taken too far by the FIRS and our legal people will be following up soon on this madness of government rascality.
“This is an attempt to muzzle free speech because on many occasions, many prominent federal government officers had approached HURIWA’s national coordinator to slow down on our criticisms of the failures of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Because they failed to get us to compromises and be silent, the FIRS think it can use illegal methodology to intimidate, harass and force us into silence. Aluta continua, Victoria asserta. We will neither be cowed or silenced by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”
Executive Director, CISLAC and Head, Transparency International in Nigeria, Auwal Musa, expressed shock that “such a huge amount could be set aside for frivolities at a time the nation’s economy was in dire straits”.
He said, “While the nation struggles hard to finance its budget, a significant proportion of the budget slips through mismanagement and reckless spending that intrinsically dominates public sector activities.
“It is more worrisome that the reckless spending has been normalised with resultant underfunded critical sector that is vital to efficiently revamp the sinking economic development.
“Given this background, the decision of Federal Inland Revenue Service to spend N1.4bn on meals and refreshment in 2021 is another irresponsible financial decision by a revenue institution preying on weak budgetary process and scrutiny, poor financial management system and inadequate legislative oversight activities associated with the public sector.
“It is more worrisome that despite the under-funded critical sector with increasingly cost of governance, FIRS has not devised appropriate tax justice system to ensure social-justice and equity in the utilisation of remittances to ensure citizens benefit maximally, but requesting a whopping sum to be lavished on irrelevant activities.
“We must be wary of reckless financial decisions that manifest in institutionalised mismanagement and revenue deficiency. This must be thoroughly checked by relevant authorities as common Nigerians are currently suffering from questionable mismanagement of public treasury and high cost of governance by successive administrations.”