BY COBHAM NSA, ABUJA – In what seems to have become a major signature tune of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration where Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are always at each others’ throats in a battle for supremacy, another drama is currently playing out on the national stage.
Taking the centre stage in this latest round of disagreement are the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) and the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS). And the bone of contention between the two organisations is the jurisdiction over stamp duty collection for the Federal Government.
Embarrassingly, the war of words in the current imbroglio degenerated on Tuesday with the FIRS vowing to ensure all monies that have accrued into NIPOST’s alleged illegally operated Stamp Duties Account are fully remitted into the Federation Account for accountability purposes.
FIRS’ Director Communication and Liaison, Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, said in a statement that the Service is determined to ensure it legally recovers into the national treasury every kobo not yet accounted for in the accruals so far.
The FIRS described as as “false and indecorous” a twitter post by the Chairperson of NIPOST Board, Hajiya Maimuna Abubakar, in which she claimed that both the Service and the National Assembly appropriated NIPOST’s ideas about stamp duties to the exclusion of the postal service.
In debunking Hajiya Abubakar’s claims, the full statement titled, “Re: That Vexed NIPOST Twit by Mrs. Maimuna Abubakar”, stated thus: “The attention of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has been drawn to a twit by Mrs. Maimuna Abubakar, Chairperson of the Board of NIPOST. Her indecorous twit would not have deserved any response but for the sensitive nature of the issue at stake, which if not sensibly treated and promptly corrected would likely mislead the public.
*To be sure, NIPOST is a government parastatal established by Decree 41 of 1992 with the function to develop, promote, and provide adequate and efficiently coordinated postal services at reasonable rates . This function is clearly contrary to the claim by NIPOST over the administration of stamp duties in Nigeria.
“On the other hand, the FIRS is the sole agency of government charged with the responsibility of assessing, collecting, and accounting for all tax types including Stamp Duties.
“It is therefore shocking to us at the FIRS that such a privileged young lady who happened to be appointed to high office would throw all caution to the air to cast aspersions on reputable public institutions like the National Assembly and the FIRS, which she accused of stealing NIPOST idea. This, to say the least, is a preposterous claim and great disservice to the government and people of Nigeria.
“We wish to state categorically that, as an agency which operates within the ambit of the law, the FIRS is determined to not only ensure that all monies collected by NIPOST into its illegally operated Stamp Duties Account are fully remitted into the Federation Account but also make sure that any kobo not accounted for in that account is legally recovered in line with the charge of President Muhammadu Buhari to the recently inaugurated Inter-ministerial committee on the recovery of stamp duties from 2016 till date.
“In addition, anyone found culpable of misappropriating the funds in the said illegal NIPOST Stamp Duties Account would be made to face the law as provisioned by the country’s statute books.
“The public is hereby reminded that we at the FIRS are resolute in our resolve to safeguard national interests and not any personal ego or interest as NIPOST officials appear to carry on lately.
“We therefore call on right-thinking Nigerians to disregard that ill-advised twit by Mrs. Maimuna Abubakar and allied misinformation being disseminated by NIPOST in relation to Stamp Duties collection, which by law is the responsibility of the FIRS.”
However, escalating the roforofo fight on the social media space, Chairman of NIPOST, Maimuna Abubakar, had in a series of tweets lamented that FIRS is encroaching into NIPOST’s mandate execution jurisdiction
She noted that FIRS, as the agency responsible for assessing, collecting and accounting for tax accruing to the Federal Government, has unfortunately delved into printing stamps, an area not covered in its mandate execution.
Claiming that FIRS has not only illegally taken possession of NIPOST’s stamps but also plagarised its ideas, Abubakar tweeted: “I am worried for NIPOST, having sleepless nights because of NIPOST. We need the general public to come to our aid; FIRS stole our mandate.
“FIRS are now selling stamps instead of buying from us. What is happening; are we expected to keep quiet and let FIRS kill and bury NIPOST?
“We need to get our mandate. NIPOST is the sole custodian of national stamps; another agency printing and selling stamps is against the law of the land.”
There has been no love lost between both organisations over whose takes full charge of stamp duty administration following Federal Government’s renewed vigour in implementing the Stamp Duty Act.
This recent development has increased the number of MDAs in the Buhari Presidency that constantly take on themselves in a seeming battle for supremacy over policy issues; programme implementation; and alleged corruption matters.
These include: Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC); Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Chief of Staff to the President; Department of State Services (DSS) and EFCC; Disbanded Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Also on the long list, which seems endless, are: Federal Ministry of Health and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); Federal Ministry of Finance and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM); Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) among others.