Libel: FIRS May Sue Timi Frank Over N90bn Election Funding Allegation

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), on Monday, decried allegations that it supported the All Progressives Congress (APC), through the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with a phantom N90bn as wicked, malicious, libelous, unfounded and irresponsible.
The FIRS threatened to pursue claims for aggravated damages in libel and injurious falsehood against Timi Frank, former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC if he fails to tender an unequivocal apology, which must be well publicized and published in three major newspapers within the next 24 hours.
According to the statement by Wahab Gbadamosi, its Head Communications and Servicom Department, urged the public to ignore the claims by Frank, accusing him of seeking cheap popularity and relevance.
The statement recalled that the story titled “Re-Osinbajo in trouble over N90bn FIRS election fund,” was replete with false claims, stressing that by the way the agency operates such occurrence is not possible.
It does not make sense “that FIRS will commit its resources to a phantom campaign of N90bn as suggested by Timi Frank, and FIRS does not fund political associations.”
The statement lamented that the publication is targeted at derailing the agency’s revenue generation efforts for the three tiers of government in the nation, describing such as calculated economic sabotage.
“We finally wish to assure all Nigerians that the FIRS did not spend and could not have spent taxpayers money for political ends. For the avoidance of doubt, every kobo paid by taxpayers goes straight to the Federation Account domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria and that the FIRS does not possess the constitutional right to touch the said account or appropriate any kobo therefrom to itself,” it stressed.
It further described the story as a brazen assault on the integrity of the FIRS as a responsible and accountable organization and demonstrates, even as it betrayed abysmal ignorance of the budgetary and expenditure process of the service.
“In the last four years since Mr. Tunde Fowler has supervised operations at the FIRS, the agency had 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,” the statement added.
From such remittances, the agency said it pays staff salary and emoluments and undertakes the training of its over 8000 staff, runs over 150 offices and provides for other needs of the Service.
It reminded all that FIRS is a creation of statute, and its activities governed by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and financial regulations, just as its annual budget is approved “through the Budget Office and the 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,” such that its operations are subjected to Scrutiny and close monitoring by the National Assembly, the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee and the Ministry of Finance.
“It is therefore unthinkable, malicious and irresponsible for the said Frank to insinuate or infer that N90bn or any part thereof could be spent illegally and without budgetary approval.”