N90bn election fund: Your allegations against Osinbajo are false, FIRS replies Timi Frank

...threatens legal action

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has said that the allegations that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is in trouble over N90 billion it took from FIRS to fund the 2019 election by Timi Frank is totally false and malicious.

The Service in a statement, said “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 statement which was signed by the Director, Communication and Servicom Wahab Gbadamosi noted that the allegations are malicious, wicked and an attempt to smear the image of the FIRS and that of the Vice President.

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The statement reads: “The entire allegation being spread by one Frank Timi that the Federal Inland Revenue Service spent N90billion 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 entire, libellous, unfounded in fact, irresponsible and a brazen assault on the integrity of the Service as a responsible and accountable organisation and clearly demonstrates an abysmal ignorance of the budgetary and expenditure process of the FIRS.

“That in the last four years since Mr Tunde Fowler has supervised operations at the FIRS, the agency had not received up to N90billion, per annum, as Cost of Collection from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC. Mr Frank and his band of liars might wish to cross-check this from FAAC, a public institution, whose records are open to the public.

“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.

“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 N90billion as suggested by Mr Timi Frank and FIRS does not fund political associations.

“That FIRS is a creation of statute and its activities are governed by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and financials regulations and thus, it is not plausible, that its funds could be expended in such a cavalier manner as suggested by Mr Timi Frank.

“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 and ascertains if an agency is keeping to the letters of the Appropriation Act

“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 and we exercise, extra care and diligence in expenditures, even after such funds must have been appropriated by the National Assembly.

The agency is subject to the eagle eye scrutiny, supervision and close monitoring by the National Assembly, the
Federation Account Allocation Committee and the Ministry of Finance through the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF).

“It is therefore unthinkable, malicious and irresponsible for the said Frank to insinuate or infer that a huge amount of public funds or any part thereof could be spent illegally and without budgetary approval.

“It is equally alarming to note that this injurious falsehood and blackmail could find space in our mass media without proper scrutiny particularly in the face 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 the 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.

“We ask members of the public to ignore the claims of Mr Timi Frank, with the ignominy it deserves as the former National Publicity Secretary of the APC is seeking cheap popularity and relevance.

“It is in the light of the foregoing observations and glaring facts, that we demand an unequivocal apology from the said Mr Frank and a well-publicised public apology in three major and leading newspapers within the next 24 hours. Please, note that Mr Timi Frank and all channels where he ventilates his barns of lies risks a libel suit if they continue on their path of dishonour.

“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.

“We 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 therefrom to itself.

“The FIRS wishes to reassure members of the public that the FIRS remains committed to public accountability and transparency in the sacred mandate of tax collection and public expenditure.”

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