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EFCC grills ex-FIRS boss Fowler over billions of naira in tax fraud

By The Nigerian Voice
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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested the immediate-past Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler.

There is however a conflicting report as per the reason for his arrest. While some reports indicate he was being quized over N5 billion fraud allegedly perpetrated in his time at FIRS, another report indicates that was being quized over a petition against Alpha Beta which headed.

An online news platform, SaharaReporters is reporting that Fowler is currently being interrogated at the Lagos office of the EFCC.

Fowler is a long-time close ally of the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The news outlet recalled that nine senior officials of the agency were detained by the EFCC over an alleged multi-billion naira fraud in 2019.

PUNCH reports that Fowler trouble is over over the N100 billion tax evasion allegations levelled against a tax firm, Alpha Beta Consulting.

According to the newspaper, the former FIRS boss, who was also a former Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, came to EFCC responded on Monday in response to an invitation.

A former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Alpha Beta Consulting, Dapo Apara, had petitioned the anti-graft agency accusing the firm of tax fraud to the tune of N100bn.

According to the newpaper report, Apara had in a petition to the EFCC in 2018, alleged that Alpha Beta, the firm given exclusive rights to monitor and collect Internally Generated Revenue on behalf of the Lagos Government “has become an avenue for official corruption of government officials, a conduit pipe for massive money-laundering scheme, tax evasion, among other vices.”

It further reported that in the petition which was written by his lawyer, Adetunji Shoyoye and Associates, the petitioner claimed that the fraud had been covered by powerful politicians in the state.

The petition was signed by Adetunji Adegboyega on behalf of the law firm,

An excerpt from the petition reads “Over the years the company has been protected and shielded by some powerful politicians and people in the society which made them to always boast of being untouchable, but our client, feeling the need not to keep quiet again and strengthened by his belief in the fact that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is keen on fighting corruption, which has been the bane of our country, is of the firm belief that it's time to expose and open the can of worms called Alpha Beta Consulting.”

The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed to The Punch that Fowler was with the commission.

“Yes, Fowler responded to an invitation this morning. I believe he is still here,” he explained.

Uwujaren, however, did not comment on the investigation.

Fowler was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 after a query for worsening tax revenues since 2015