Fowler in the Eye of the Storm

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HighLife

It does not look like former Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, is ever going to be allowed to enjoy his much-needed rest and retirement from all things associated with his former position. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has evidently found a friend in him, which is the only explanation for its constant fussing over the greying-headed man.

T. S. Eliot wrote, “I grow old… I grow old… I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.” The first part about growing old fits Fowler like a tailor-made suit, but not the last. Not when fraud and money laundering allegations continue to crop up, carrying—or suggesting some form of relationship with—his good name. The latest episode is the EFCC’s alleged arraignment of some of Fowler’s top-shelf officials (including Peter Hena, FIRS Coordinating Director during Fowler’s 2015–2018 tenure, and eight others) before a Federal High Court in Abuja.

According to the reports in this regard, the nine have been splashed with a 42-count charge under the accusations of fraud, misappropriation of funds, and corruption. Altogether, this indictment weighs around 4.6 billion, which is the amount Fowler’s people have been accused of siphoning.

Although the case is still at that stage where bail is allowed (in this context, 100 million bail has been written against each of the accused), the damage to reputation is beyond sweeping under the carpet. So far, Babatunde Fowler has not been mentioned as aiding and abetting his former staff in their alleged crime, but many eyes are looking in the man’s direction. After all, he only recently got a bill of rest after the EFCC invited him over similar allegations of money laundering and corruption. Things are not at all going well for Fowler. Others (who retired the same time he did) might still be vacationing or consolidating their experiences in public service for something better—not Fowler. Where is the time for consolidation when he is almost always in the eye of the storm?