FIRS Vows to Recover Funds in NIPOST’s ‘Illegal’ Stamp Duties Account’

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By Ndubuisi Francis

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has expressed its resolve to ensure that all monies collected by the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) into its ‘illegally operated Stamp Duties Account’ are fully recovered and remitted into the Federation Account.

The revenue agency has also described the remarks by Board Chairman of NIPOST, Ms. Maimuna Abubakar, as a disservice to the country.

Abubakar had in tweets on Sunday alleged that the FIRS stole the agency’s mandate, stamps and ideas.
The FIRS, in a recently released circular, said it now has a portal for automated stamp duty collection where all stamp duty paying citizens, government agencies, institutions, and private organisations should log into and pay stamp duties.

However, NIPOST opposed the FIRS, saying only the postal agency is empowered to print, mint, produce, retail, and provide adhesive postage stamps.

In a reaction to Abubakar, the FIRS’ Director of Communication and Liaison, Mr. Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, said yesterday that the FIRS is not violating any law by collecting stamp duty.

The tax authority also said it was determined to make sure that any kobo not accounted for in the account is legally recovered in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the recently inaugurated inter-ministerial committee on the recovery of stamp duties from 2016.

The agency equally threatened that anyone found culpable of misappropriating the funds in the said account would be made to face relevant laws as provided in the nation’s statute books.

FIRS’ position followed what it described as “false and indecorous” twitter post by the Chairperson, NIPOST Board, Abubakar, in which she claimed that both the tax authority and the National Assembly appropriated NIPOST’s ideas about stamp duties to the exclusion of the postal agency.

In the statement issued by Ahmad, the FIRS said its attention had been drawn to a twit by Mrs. Maimuna Abubakar, Chairperson of the Board of NIPOST.

Knocking the tone of the message, the FIRS noted that “her indecorous twit would not have deserved any response but for the sensitive nature of the issue at stake, which if not sensibly treated and promptly corrected would likely mislead the public.

“To be sure, NIPOST is a government parastatal established by Decree 41 of 1992 with the function to develop, promote, and provide adequate and efficiently coordinated postal services at reasonable rates. This function is clearly contrary to the claim by NIPOST over the administration of stamp duties in Nigeria.

“On the other hand, FIRS is the sole agency of government charged with the responsibility of assessing, collecting, and accounting for all tax types including Stamp Duties.

“It is therefore shocking to us at the FIRS that such a privileged young lady who happened to be appointed to high office would throw all caution to the air to cast aspersions on reputable public institutions like the National Assembly and the FIRS, which she accused of stealing NIPOST idea. This, to say the least, is a preposterous claim and great disservice to the government and people of Nigeria.”

The statement categorically pointed out that as an agency which operates within the ambit of the law, “the FIRS is determined to not only ensure that all monies collected by NIPOST into its illegally operated Stamp Duties Account are fully remitted into the Federation Account but also make sure that any kobo not accounted for in that account is legally recovered in line with the charge of President Muhammadu Buhari to the recently inaugurated inter-ministerial committee on the recovery of stamp duties from 2016 till date.

“In addition, anyone found culpable of misappropriating the funds in the said illegal NIPOST Stamp Duties Account would be made to face the law as provisioned by the country’s statute books.”

The tax authority noted that it was resolute in its resolve “to safeguard national interests and not any personal ego or interest as NIPOST officials appear to carry on lately,” adding: “We, therefore, call on right-thinking Nigerians to disregard that ill-advised tweet by Mrs. Maimuna Abubakar and allied misinformation being disseminated by NIPOST in relation to stamp duties collection, which by law is the responsibility of the FIRS.”