The Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Benue State Government has directed the Benue State Internal Revenue Service, BIRS, to obtain and tender before it all statements of bank accounts operated by the board between 2010 and 2015.
Chairman of the Commission, Justice Elizabeth Kpojime gave the directive when
the Acting Chairman of BIRS, Mr Gabriel Asen testified on activities of the revenue agency during the Commission’s sitting.
Justice Kpojime also demanded that the BIRS Acting Chairman should also furnish it with details of locations of the 17 modular classroom blocks constructed by the revenue Service; a project which cost the state N217 million.
Similarly, the BIRS boss is to submit a harmonised report showing remittances made by BIRS to the office of Accountant General of the State as stipulated by law.
In his testimony before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, Mr Asen said the contract for the construction of 273 classroom blocks using part of revenue generated by BIRS was approved by the former Governor Gabriel Suswam, and that 17 of the classroom blocks had so far been completed with the said amount of N217 million. He said the project was executed during the tenure of the former Chairman of BIRS, Mr Andrew Ayabam, stating that neither advertisements were sent out nor tenders received before the contract was awarded.
On the issue of 10% payment to the Chairman of BIRS from the total revenue collected, Mr Asen told the Commission that the former Chairman usually took his 10% after the reconciliation of accounts with the office of the Accountant-General of the State.
Mr Asen also said that some government agencies like the state-owned tertiary institutions do not remit the revenue they generate to BIRS but only send figures which are aggregated by the tax agency as the total internally generated revenue of the State.
He said when he came into office, he had to terminate the existing retainership arrangement BIRS had with some senior lawyers, as according to him, the practice was unjustifiable.
Mr Asen told the Commission that the present location of BIRS headquarters is not good for a tax agency as the State spends N11 million each year, making the total N44 million in four years as rent for the structure.
Members of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry however drew the attention of the Acting Chairman of BIRS Mr Gabriel Asen to the imbalance in the figures contained in documents he tendered to the Commission and he pleaded for more time to enable him harmonise the said documents.
The Commission adjourned its sitting to the 2nd of October.