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EFCC, FIRS, War on Corruption and the Rest Of Us

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Saturday, April 08, 2017  6.40AM / Kelechi Deca

In every sane society, there are laws that demand every individual, upon request from law enforcement agencies, and or tax officers, should disclose the source of whatever amount of money,or physical assets, either in the bank or otherwise....

The idea of overnight success is a purely Nigerian creation. In advanced societies, even those who deal in the underworld know that you can't even become an overnight success in such a dog eat dog conundrum...but in Nigeria, a guy who just left school and is begging for transport fare a week ago, will be driving a N50 million car and live in a N150 million house, yet we think it is normal......we even give thanks to God on his behalf but nobody cares to ask him about the process,if you do, they call you enemy of progress. We are all after the results, irrespective of how it was achieved.

That is why most companies in Nigeria are purely result focused  outfits with no regard for process.... It is in our orientation.

The multiplier effect of such unbridled destruction of the human ability to strive, to sweat, to dream and work hard towards achieving that dream via honest acceptable means is the very root of every evil manifesting in different terminologies in Nigeria.

That is the law in every sane society, and mentally healthy humans hardly frown at such. Such laws help engender hard-work, transparency and productivity in a society. But we live in an abnormal society and most of us are insane, that is why the ongoing argument on the propriety or otherwise of the recent acquittals on corruption charges makes no sense to me.

Let me address this.

I think the EFCC as presently constituted lack the capacity to adequately prosecute the war on corruption. It has become the butt of popular jokes from the days of Madam Farida Waziri to this day. No one even remembers  allegations of financial impropriety against Ibrahim Lamorde to the tune of N1 trillion?. Same way the operatives of the agency have also become agents of 'settlements' a la Nigeriana...where do they even get their lawyers from?

And now this....

Some of the funds in the celebrated cases were moved using mostly corporate accounts of bogus companies some of with hardly identifiable physical addresses and where they have one,no productive activity takes place there.

In Nigeria, we have the Federal Inland Revenue Service(FIRS) with hundreds of offices across the nation. In a place like Lagos, FIRS has over 30 tax offices. We have one in Alaka Surulere, and another at Aguda Surulere. They collect Pay As You Earn ( PAYE),Value Added Tax (VAT),Companies Income Tax (CIT) Capital Gains Tax (CGT) Education Tax (EDT) and National Information Technology Development Levy (NITDL).

How many of those bogus companies owned by these public servants and their spouses pay any of these taxes?

FIRS through its online portal has access to every transaction between the MDA's and any private or public organisation.With just a click of the mouse at any FIRS office, you can view remittances of funds from any government agency to any organisation or even individuals.

FIRS is also empowered by law to peep into bank details of every company in Nigeria thus they can trace who paid in what, when and how....

Yet we do not record up to 45% tax compliance.....

All these bogus companies that were set up primarily to bid for government contracts, most of which were never executed even after collecting mobilisation and full payments should have their tax history scrutinized.

All the empty houses inhabited by rats and Cockroaches in high brow areas of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt should be properly scrutinised by the local internal revenue services.

Until we get to a level in Nigeria where the state exercises that legal and moral obligation to demand to know the source of whatever wealth people parade without majority of us taking sides, fighting corruption will remain a lip service. I know this will likely take forever because the agents of the state are as culpable as those they want to question.

We must restructure Nigeria to first give people a certain sense of ownership,Nigeria is the joke it is today because there is no sense of ownership attachment to what happens to Nigeria, we all want to wait for our own opportunity to milk it turn by turn until it drops dead. And dead it will drop one day.

Without restructuring we will not be able to devolve this hugely corruption industry into broken down bits of smaller manageable units at local levels, such that if one state decides to allow looters loot every income that comes into its coffers, it would not affect the progress of another state.

NOW is the time.....

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