The Federal Government on Monday filed a 13-count criminal charge before the Federal High Court in Abuja, against five ex-officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, bordering on alleged fake tax clearance certificate scam.
Batimehin Ojo, Atere Ayodeji, Adegbite Adewale, Yusuf Olatunji and Mustapha Dodo, are alleged to have impersonated a former FIRS Senior Tax Manager, Chris Nwogu, to issue out fake tax clearance certificates to some unsuspecting tax payers and in the process, swindled the country of huge sums of money.
The absence of the trial judge, Justice Abdulkadir Abdulkafarati,who was said to be away on an official assignment outside Abuja, however, stalled their arraignment,and it may be done on Tuesday.
The suspects were returned to the FIRS custody pending their arraignment.
The Prosecuting counsel, Mr. James Binang,who is also an Assistant Director and Head, Criminal Prosecution Unit, Legal Department, FIRS headquarters, Abuja filed the charge on behalf of the Federal Government.
According to the charge dated November 18, 2015, the suspects among others, were alleged to have in November 2011, conspired and forged companies Income Tax clearance certificates with Serial No: 05329283 covering tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010 in favour of Release Auto Garage Company Ltd.
The forged tax certificates were purportedly issued by the former Senior Tax Manager, contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010.
They were alleged to have presented the forged tax papers to one Simeon Oluwafemi Babatunde for the verification of tax clearance of the Auto Company, contrary to Section 43(a) of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Act 2007.
The suspects were also alleged to have forged a seal of the FIRS, which they appended on companies Income Tax Clearance Certificates to secure a tax clearance certificate for the said Auto Company, contrary to Section 43(d) of the FIRS Act.
The charge also indicated that the suspects on December 18, 2013 forged another set of companies’ Income Tax Clearance Certificates with Serial No: 05403894 covering tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012 in favour of the same Auto Company as Tax Clearance Certificates for the three years’ period.
The charge reads in part:
“That you, Batimehin Ojo, Atere Olutayo Ayodeji, Adegbite Adewale, Yusuf Olatunji, and Mustapha Dodo, sometimes in December 2013, unlawfully assumed the character of authorized officers of the Service by using the name, designation and impersonated the character of one Nwogu Chris, a former Senior Tax Manager with the Federal Inland Revenue Service in the wrongful issuance of Companies Income Tax Clearance Certificate with Serial No: 05403894, purportedly issued in the name of Release Auto Garage Ltd; which you presented to Simeon Oluwafemi Babatunde, for a purpose related to verification of tax of the Company; and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 46 of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Act.
“That you Batimehin Ojo, Atere Olutayo Ayodeji, Adegbite Adewale, Yusuf Olatunji, and Mustapha Dodo, sometimes in 2015, without lawful authority, knowingly had in your possession instruments and materials for forgery to wit; Eighteen (18) Blank companies Income Tax Clearance Certificates, Six (6) Blank Value Added Tax Certificates of Registration and Twenty (20) Federal Inland Revenue Service Stamps bearing names and addresses of different Federal Inland Revenue Service offices; all being documents used for the purpose of the Public Revenue of Nigeria; and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 480 (1) (b) and punishable under Section 480 of the Criminal Code Act CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010”.