Fowler Commended Over Increased Tax Collection, As Court Dismisses Suit Against His Tenure
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By Rommy IMAH
Babatunde Fowler, Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has been commended for facilitating the increase of non-oil revenue collection and contributing towards the country’s recovery from economic recession.
The commendation was given by Northern youths under the aegis of Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA).
AYA Speaker, Muhammad Salihu Danlami, made the commendation about Fowler and the Comptroller- General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Colonel Hameed Ali (retd.), at an extraordinary meeting held over the weekend in Kaduna.
Reading the communiqué of the meeting at a press conference on Monday, Danlami announced that the youth assembly passed a vote of confidence on Fowler and Ali for their innovative strategies which led to their agencies’ increased collection of non-oil revenue.
According to the speaker, both men have played vital roles in ensuring that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration helped the country to exit from recession, despite the huge challenges faced.
He said: “It is on record that the government breasted the tape of the challenge and worked the Nigerian economy out of recession in record time never seen before in the world over. This feat was achieved thanks to the commitment of some very innovative public servants at the helm of affairs of some of our MDAs.
“Thus, Arewa Youth Assembly is delighted at the masterful detailed attention being accorded by the administrators of these MDAs which has seen them spark to life with outstanding positive results.
“At the risk of sounding immodest, let it be placed on record that the achievement recorded by Mr. Babatunde Fowler and Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) have achieved enviable records never seen before in the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) respectively since their creation.
“Mr. Fowler took over the reign of FIRS at a time our country was going through economic depression amidst dwindling oil revenues. It was his sheer ingenuity through the raise of non-oil revenues base in many folds that brought our country out of the recession.
“Between 2016 and 2018, the non-oil revenue collection grew by over N1trillion (about 21%). This is a record first for our country at a time when there is a global shift away from oil revenues towards economic diversification in non-oil sectors. It is well established fact that Mr. Fowler is an all-time ambassador for zero tolerance of corruption.
“Let’s use this medium as an organization to commend and pass a vote of confidence on the present FIRS management ably led by Mr. Babatunde Fowler and NCS led by Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) for raising the non-oil revenues to an all-time higher and for rising up to the occasion to reverse the then economic recession and steer our country’s economy to an era of boom and progress.”
The AYA Speaker noted that the tax collection of the FIRS under Fowler increased due to the mechanisms adopted, especially the e-Solutions and enlightenment programmes.
He said: “These recorded progress can be linked to far reaching reforms introduced by Mr. Fowler in areas of regular and continuous taxpayers’ education, ICT innovation drive and taxpayers’ enlightenment amongst others. And on the other hand Col. Ali water tight policies on border security and duty tax on taxable items in line with his given task to reform, restructure and increase the revenue generation of the customs draws accolades within and outside our shores.
“Mr. Fowler and Col. Ali supervise a total turnaround of the economy to meet up the challenges of the moment by riding the 2 agencies of pervasive corruption and undue political meddlesomeness. We shall vigorously continue to support President Muhammadu Buhari consolidation agenda in the next four years of the current term and his worthy lieutenants.”
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court sitting in Kano, on Tuesday, dismissed a suit challenging the tenure of Mr. Babatunde Fowler as Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS).
The court, presided over by Justice Lewis Allagoa, struck out the suit when it upheld the preliminary objection filed by Fowler’s counsel, Paul Erokoro (SAN) that Stanley Okwara, the plaintiff, has no locus standi to file the suit.
Justice Allagoa came to the conclusion after an hour-long review of all the legal authorities cited by Erekoro, T.A Ghazalli, counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation, who is the second defendant; and JohnMary C. Jideobi, the plaintiff’s counsel.
Justice Allagoa said he could not see how the right of the plaintiff have been affected by the non-appointment of the Executive Chairman, FIRS after August 15.
“In this case, the plaintiff said he is an unemployed legal practitioner. How specifically that affects his rights to file this suit is not disclosed,” said the judge.
He agreed with Fowler’s counsel that the plaintiff has no cause of action and that it was fatal to his suit that he didn’t file a pre-action notice to the court, as required by the Federal Inland Revenue Establishment Act (FIRSEA) 2007.
“I agree with the first defendant that the plaintiff ought to have served the defendant with a pre-action notice. Learned SAN asked the court to strike out the suit. I so hold,” Allagoa said.
The judge also upheld Erokoro’s submission that the suit should be struck out as there is no “justiciable cause of action.