Fowler: Alpha Beta and other possible reasons for his troubles

Tunde Fowler, FIRS Chairman

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

Beyond the speculations, there was no cogent reason in the public domain for invitation of Babatunde Fowler, the former Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service on Monday.

Yet, the anti-graft agency has many reasons to invite the former national and before then, Lagos number one taxman. But the one to the media as at the time of writing this story was latching to, in the absence of clear clarification by the EFCC, was the allegation made by Dapo Apara, former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Alpha Beta Consulting.

In a petition written and submitted to the EFCC in 2018, Apara had accused  Apha Beta believed to be owned by the National leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of tax evasion to the tune of N100 billion when Fowler was in charge of Lagos Inland Revenue Service, LIRS.

He also claimed that Alpha Beta was used as an avenue for official corruption of government officials, a conduit pipe for massive money-laundering scheme, tax evasion, among others in the petition written by his lawyer, Adetunji Shoyoye and Associates.

Apara had consistently accused the EFCC of neglecting his petition because of the link between Tinubu and Alpha Beta, but the inviation of the former FIRS Chairman will now doubt gladden his heart.

Also, the invitation of Fowler could also be related to the probe of N1.2bn duty tour allowance fraud in the FIRS which the EFCC was investigating before he was removed as the chairman of the tax agency.

The investigation involved illegal payments of Duty Tour Allowances to top officials of FIRS with some top guns of the tax agency alleged to have received as much as over 100m in fraudulent payment.

Shocked by their findings reports had indicated that the EFCC had extended its probe to cover the contracts awarded by the FIRS since Fowler, assumed office in 2015. It was also reported that the former FIRS Chairman had attempted to stop investigation of the DTA fraud by the then chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.

It is not known if the EFCC subsequently find anything incriminating that may have warrented invitation of Fowler that may

Fowler’s successor, Muhammad Nami had also leveled various allegations against his predecessor, which many have noted, may have attracted the attention of EFCC.

During interactive session with revenue-generating agencies at the Senate in 2019, Nami had said the country lost a lot of revenue through undeserved to tax waivers granted by Fowlers to some companies while he was in office.

He also said the operational cost of the agency when compared to similar agencies was too high under Fowler.

Nami attributed the failure of FIRS to meet its revenue projections when Fowler was in charge of the Service to indiscretion in the granting of tax waivers, excessive and excessive overhead costs.

Indeed, it was believed that the President Muhammadu Buhari may have denied Fowler second term because of the  failure of the FIRS to meet its revenue projects under his leadership.

It was not certain if the former FIRS Chairman was invited over any of these issues under EFCC searchlight or indeed, over an issue not yet in public domain. However, it is expected that the anti-graft agency will soon come clean on its reason(s) for the invitation of Fowler.