David-ChyddyEleke reports that Anambra Internal Revenue Services, the body charged with collecting internal revenues for the State has abandoned the task as top management staff fight dirty.
AIRS is obviously the cash cow of the Anambra State government. For a state that has over a 100 markets in Onitsha alone, 20 major international markets across the state, an industrial city in Nnewi and several semi urban centres that can boast of appreciable economic activities, it is not a surprise that the agency responsible for revenue collection reeks in cash.
Recently, top management staff of AIRS, have been enmeshed in a fight over revenues in the state and its collection. The fight however is principally between the Executive Chairman of AIRS, Chief Greg Ezeilo and Executive Director of Operations in the agency, Dr. Christian Madubuko.
THISDAY gathered that the bone of contention is who controls the internally generated revenue of the state. Soludo had upon his swearing in charged the AIRS on increased generation of revenue. The governor told the agency a target growing the state’s internally generated revenue to N10billion monthly.
The charge had then led to a revenue drive by the agency, which later led to a backlash on the governor, as people complained of being suffocated with taxes. Though this was happening under Dr Richard Maddiebo as executive chairman, the agency later reformed its operation, such that it abolished collection of cash, opting for electronic payment. Maddiebo however resigned from office, over rumours of being overshadowed by Madubuko, who was calling the shots, despite being his subordinate.
A source within the agency, who spoke to THISDAY, pleading for anonymity said Madiebbo was bitter that despite the open confrontation and feud in the agency, Soludo failed to wade into the matter to call Madubuko to order. His exit ushered in Greg Ezeilo as the New Chairman and Executive Director. He was also in the system previously, and said to be grounded. His entry however created another round of feud, between him and Madubuko, leading to his attempt to cut Madubuko to size.
THISDAY gathered that as part of the strategy, Ezeilo created a new office, UHBET Centre and assigned Madubuko an office in the complex while also changing his job description from being in charge of field operations to New Businesses Development, Motor Licensing, Road Taxes and overseeing the UHBET Computer-Based Testing Facility (CBT). This did not go down well with Madubuko, who ignored him and continued with his role as operations manager, leading staff to the field for enforcement.
Our source stated that: “The main reason for such insistence to remain in the field was because of the money involved. If you know how much is in the field, you will know why Madubuko insists on being in the field. On the other hand too, the Executive Director himself also goes to field. He has an eye in the field, and he does not want Madubuko with his overbearing influence to continue to pry into his affairs. It’s a whole lot of game going on there.”
Meanwhile, the fight between the duo has started in earnest. In an internal memo, which came in the form of a query, which Ezeilo issued to Madubuko, he accused him several wrongs, including insubordination, usurpation of power, and coveting of some of the agency’s operational vehicles for his personal use.
The lengthy memo read in part: “You will recall, in my last conversations with you, shortly after you returned from your overseas trip, I took you to the UHBET Centre and conducted you round that facility; showed you your new office location in that Centre, and intimated you that your job roles would now change to cover among others, New Business Development, Motor Licensing, Road Taxes and overseeing the UHBET Computer-Based Testing Facility (CBT).
“Additionally, I informed you that, as an Executive Director, you are never to be engaged in any field work again except where it becomes extremely necessary to do so. Similarly, arising from my initial memo to all directors, management, and every other staff of AiRS, no such actions involving interacting with any external parties should take place without the authorization of the Chairman.
“In another development, records from the head of admin showed that you are still in custody of three of AiRS vehicles, namely two Sienna buses and one truck, contrary to our vehicle fleet management policy of one officer – one vehicle and others to the pool. In the light of the above, can you please take immediate steps to address the following queries.
“You are to provide lucid explanations of your roles in issues in ‘1’ above and why severe disciplinary actions cannot be taken against you. Upon satisfactory submission on issues No.1, you should take immediate steps to relocate your office to the UHBET Centre as provided and thereof conduct yourself in line with your new job roles.
“Provide reasonable and convincing undertaking that you will never engage with any external parties including AiRS Partners or their agents, the police, civil defense, DSS or the press without express approval of the Chairman. Finally, you should take immediate steps to return two of the three vehicles in your custody back to the office and hand over the keys to the head of Admin for effective fleet operations.”
That singular query may have opened a can of worms, as Madubuko, in replying, revealed what can be described as indictment on the chairman, even though the indictments could not exactly be verified. Madubuko accused Ezeilo of leaking his query to the media to humiliate him, suggesting that he too may have leaked his reply to the query, revealing many secrets he shared with Ezeilo.
In his reply to the query, Dr Christian Madubuko, said Ezeilo was working hard to keep him away from what had been happening.
“I am even more worried to observe that a partnering firm whose job function is to supervise the AiRS digital collections and pay into State account digitally is now coming up with a cheque of N150million which is obviously less than 20% of what has been collected in the field on behalf of AiRS.
“Remember that same company made over N1,269,360billion within the three months and two weeks period it operated as revenue agent for Anambra State in late 2022 and early 2023 in a very obnoxious manner that warranted the abrupt suspension of the flying revenue by Mr. Governor in January 2023.
“The records of money collected by the firm is not only available but also verifiable to date. Till today, Bigly firm claims it has not recovered the N450million it invested in the Anambra IGR. That is a blatant lie. I would like anyone who doubts this to challenge me and I will make a verifiable records of its collections and the amount collected available.
Meanwhile, as the battle rages, Anambra seems to be suffering its effect. Insider source revealed that some of the companies handling the collection of IGR for Anambra state government are growing richer by the day.
“Luckily for Soludo, since Anambra State joined the league of oil producing states, following the effort of his predecessor, Anambra has been making a lot of money from oil derivation, so he can continue with his projects,” the source said.
Curiously, the state governor has remained mum about the crisis at Revenue House. This it was gathered was the reason for the resignation of Madiebbo in the past.
When THISDAY reached out to the Anambra state governor’s Press secretary, Mr Chris Aburime on what Soludo intends to do to sanitize Revenue House, he insisted that they was no fight in the agency. “At least, that is not within my knowledge.”
When THISDAY told him that evidence of the fight has been in public space, he said he would get back to our correspondent, but never did as at the time of filing this report.