The Executive Chairman Benue State Internal Revenue Service, Makurdi
FRAUDULENT PRACTICES AT AREA EDUCATION OFFICES AND MOTOR LICENSING AUTHORITIES
1.0 AREA EDUCATION OFFICES I wish to draw your attention to the unlawful and fraudulent practices going on at the Area Education Office, under the Ministry of Education. Whenever ex-pupils of a primary school go to their school of graduation to collect their First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC) they are charged the sum of N100.00 multiplied by the number of years the pupil applying for the certificate graduated. The Benue State Internal Revenue Service Law 2010, Gazette No. 46, made provisions relating to the collection, recovery and enforcement of any task or levy due to the state. Under Schedule 3 of the law captioned; Internal Revenue Rates, Taxes and Levies of State Ministries Departments and Agencies on page A72 which dealt with Education, Revenue Subhead B provided for the sum of N100.00 only to be paid per pupil for collection of FLSC and not the sum of N100 multiplied by the number of years the pupil applying for the certificate had graduated.
1.2 The 2010 law has been repealed by the State Internal Revenue Administration (SIRA) Law of Benue State, 2015, Gazette No. 17 and curiously under the 2015 law, no amount has been fixed for collection of FSLC yet the practice of charging the sum of N100 multiplied by the number of years the pupil applying for the certificate has graduated has continued unabated.
1.3 It is also worrisome that no receipt was issued for the money paid for FLSC. One therefore wonders whether any fee collected for FSLC, a revenue subhead; under the now repealed Benue State Internal Revenue Service Law 2010, Gazette No. 46, was been remitted to the Benue State Government.
1.4 It may be germane at this point to draw your attention to sections 51 and 55 of the SIRA Law, 2015. Section 55 provides thus; Any person appointed for the due administration of this law or employed in connection with the assessment and collection of a tax; demands from any company an amount in excess of the assessment of the tax withholds for his own use or otherwise any person of the amount of tax collected renders a false return whether orally or in writing of the amount of tax collected or received by him defrauds any person, embezzles any money, otherwise uses his position to deal wrongfully with the Internal Revenue Service steals or misuse service documents compromises on the assessment or collection of any tax, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine equivalent to 200% of the sum in question or to imprisonment for a term of three(3) years or both.
2.0 ARBITRARY RATES AND FEES CHARGED FOR MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION BY THE MOTOR LICENSING AUTHORITY OF THE BENUE STATE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
2.1 It may interest you to know that there are no fixed uniform rates and fees for motor vehicle registration in Benue State. I once tried to register my vehicle and I visited the Motor Licensing Authority (MLA) offices at the headquarters of BIRS (N33,000), Makurdi Modern Market (N28,000) and High Level (N29,000) and the MLA office in Gboko (N29,000) and all of them gave me different fees for motor vehicle registration for the same motor vehicle. I tried to inquire why the fees are not uniform across all MLA offices in Benue State but no answer was given to me.
2.3 I was able to get the Benue State Board of Internal Revenue Standard Operation Collection Manual issued in 2012 and in the manual the rates and fees prescribed for motor vehicle registration are uniform across the state but I wonder why the MLAs charge arbitrary fees or why the fees differ from one MLA office to the other. For avoidance of doubt and ease of reference below are the fees and rates specified in the manual:
It appears the MLAs are carrying out fraudulent transactions and therefore shortchanging persons who apply for registration of their vehicles and renewal of vehicle motor licenses. In order to check or minimize this fraud I hereby suggest the following;
Placing in a conspicuous place at the BIRS head office and MLAs the approved rates and fees so that any person coming to register his vehicle will see it. In Lagos state a signpost or banner stating the approved fees is conspicuously placed at the entrance of the area offices of the Lagos State Government Motor Vehicle Administration Agency.
Publication of the approved rates and fees in a national daily and two or three local newspapers/dailies which circulate mainly within Benue State for a period of one month.
Announcement of the approved rates and fees on the popular radio Benue FM 95 program; Final Bus Stop. The program attracts a large listenership. The program airs every Tuesday and the announcement of the fees could be done at the beginning of each edition of the program or twice a month. Publication of approved rates and fees on handbills to be distributed to the masses and some kept at conspicuous places at all BIRS area offices for members of the public who have dealings with the BIRS to pick up and read.
Publication of the rates and fees on the website of the Benue State Government and that of BIRS though. In Lagos state they have published the aforementioned rates and fees and procedure for motor vehicle registration on the Lagos state government website and the website of the Lagos state Motor Vehicle Administration Agency. The rates or fees and procedures for Lagos state can be viewed by visiting this link: http://www.lagosstate.gov.ng/pagemenus.php?p=137&k=43.
We are under a new administration in the state and the country at large and the administration has professed CHANGE as its main agenda. If that change is to truly take place the fraudulent and illegal practices just highlighted above and other forms of corruption must be rooted out or reduced to the barest minimum in the public service and indeed Nigeria as a whole.
The present administration is in dire need of funds from internally generated revenue (IGR) following the dwindling and insufficient allocation from the Federal Government therefore serious efforts must be taken to plug all revenue leakages (highlighted above in the issuance of FSLC and registration/licensing of motor vehicles) in order for the present administration to have funds to pay salaries and carry out capital projects.
It is therefore, my earnest belief that if the measures suggested hereinabove are put in place, pilfering of revenue accruable to the government of Benue State would be reduced.