NIGERIA’S Federal Inland Revenue Service (Firs) has threatened to sue former All Progressives Congress (APC) spokesman Timi Frank for libel after he alleged that the agency funded the party’s 1029 election campaign to the tune of N90bn ($247.62m).
Early this week, Timi Frank, a former APC deputy publicity secretary make a wild claim that Firs made available a sum of N90bn ($247.62m) to the party to fund its February presidential campaign. He further alleged that the money was mismanaged by vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo who was tasked with using the funds to bolster APC fortunes in the southwest geo-political zone.
Despite not providing any evidence to back up his claims, Mr Frank alleged that Professor Osinbajo could not account for the money handed to him. It is thought that Mr Frank is the public face of President Muhammadu Buhari’s kitchen cabinet, who have declared all out war on Professor Osinbajo over the last week because they see him as a threat to their plans to take over total control of the apparatus of government.
Incensed that Firs, a government agency has been dragged into this dirty political campaign of calumny, its director of information Wahab Gbadamosi, has asked Mr Frank to withdraw the statement of get sued for libel. He dismissed the N90bn claim, saying, the agency does not receive up to N100bn per annum, so there is no way it could have N90bn at its disposal.
Mr Gbadamosi 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, who claimed that Firs supported the APC, through the vice president Yemi Osinbajo with a phantom N90bn. The entire allegation being spread by one Frank Timi that the Federal Inland Revenue Service spent N90bn 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, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
“This campaign of calumny and vilifying false claims are entirely libellous, unfounded in fact, irresponsible and a brazen assault on the integrity of the service as a responsible and accountable organisation and demonstrates an abysmal ignorance of the budgetary and expenditure process of the Firs. In the last four years since Mr Tunde Fowler has supervised operations at the Firs, the agency has not received up to N100bn, per annum, as cost of collection from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).
“FAAC is a public institution, whose records are open to the public. 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 and its remittances from FAAC have never grossed up to N100bn per annum.
“It is not plausible nor does it make any sense that Firs will commit its resources to a phantom campaign of N90bn as suggested by Mr Timi Frank and Firs does not fund political associations. Firs is a creation of statute and its activities are governed by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and financial regulations and thus, it is not plausible, that its funds could be expended in such a cavalier manner as suggested by Mr Timi Frank.”
Firs demanded an apology from Mr Frank, threatening to sue him for libel if he ends up not acceding to its request within 24 hours. Mr Gbadamosi pointed out that the agency’s operations are closely monitored by the National Assembly and scrutinised by the ministry of finance.
He added: “Firs budget and expenditure approval processes pass through the Budget Office and the Federal 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 to ensure agencies keep to the letters of the Appropriation Act.”
In a dramatic and audacious attack on the office of the vice president over recent weeks, the President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet known as the Aso Rock Cabal, managed to get him to agree to their plan to dissolve the Economic Management Team headed by Professor Osinbajo and replace it with an Economic Advisory Council under the chairmanship of Professor Doyin Salami. All decisions in the presidency are currently being made the kitchen cabinet made up of Abba Kyari, Mamman Daura, Isa Funtua, Boss Mustapha, Lawal Daura and Baba Gana Kingibe, with President Buhari reduced to a figure head who just rubber stamps their decisions, sometimes not aware of what he is approving.