Contrary to claims, the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) on Monday confirmed that purported tax remittances by Leaders & Company Limited on behalf of a former Editor of the newspaper, Paul Ibe are not on its database.
The revelation was made at the continued trial in the matter brought by Mr. Ibe against Leaders & Company Limited and its Chairman/CEO, Nduka Obaigbena at the National Industrial Court in Abuja.
Mr. Ibe a former Editor of THISDAY on Saturday and Editor Nation’s Capital had in July 2011 in suit No NIC/ABJ/26/2011 dragged Obaigbena and Leaders & Company Limited owners of THISDAY Newspaper to court over alleged non remittances of his pension and taxes (PAYE) to the relevant agencies. He has also asked the court to declare that the procedure adopted by the defendant that led to the termination of his employment on July 13, 2010 was unlawful, illegal and in bad faith.
Mr. Garba Gusau, Manager, Tax Operations Group told the court presided over by Hon. Justice M. N. Esowe that a search of FIRS database as it relates to tax remittances of Mr. Ibe revealed there was no record.
Led in evidence by Barrister Noble Ifeme (Esq) for the claimant, Gusau, who said his work includes among others monitoring of tax offices in relation to collection of taxes confirmed that he authored the letter from FIRS with respect to Mr. Ibe’s tax, which had already been admitted in evidence by the court.
He said that the letter dated 5th July, 2011 and addressed to Messrs Noble Ifeme & Co and titled “Re: Request for confirmation of tax remittance and TIN number” followed a letter from Barr. Noble dated 6th June 2011 seeking confirmation of tax remittance and TIN number of Mr. Ibe during his more than 12 years employment with THISDAY Newspaper.
Asked by Barr. Noble if the letter before the court from FIRS a true reflection of the facts, Garba confirmed that as at the time he caused to write the letter of 5th July 2011, “there was no record of remittance” with respect to his client (Ibe) whom he wrote on his behalf.
“As at the time the inquiry was made, we (FIRS) searched through our records and there was no remittance with respect to Mr. Paul Ibe. All remittances are reflected in our system,” the FIRS official said.
Under cross examination by Barr. Samuel Zibiri (Esq.), Mr. Garba acknowledged that the PAYE (pay as you earn) regime) employers are expected to remit the tax of their staff.
Asked if Leaders & Co Ltd is registered with the FIRS in line with statutory provisions, Garba noted that even if that is the case there are no remittances with respect to Mr. Ibe.
When asked by Zibiri if he was aware that the head office of THISDAY Newspaper is in Lagos, Garba insisted that a search at the headquarters of FIRS in Abuja revealed that Mr. Ibe is not on the database of the tax agency.
At this point, Mr. Zibiri put forward some documents to Garba, which sought to confirm that THISDAY was a tax paying company, but the FIRS official said that he was in no position to confirm the authenticity of the documents because they are not certified by FIRS.
Zibiri then asked for an adjournment to enable him have the documents, which he said is germane to his case verified by the appropriate department of FIRS. The court thereafter adjourned till October 19, 2013 for the conclusion of the cross examination of Garba.
Earlier Mr. Ibe had ended his cross examination by Zibiri, counsel for both Obaigbena and Leaders & Co Ltd.
Counsel to Ibe had at the penultimate trial in July informed the court that the out of court settlement at the instance of Obaigbena/Leaders & Co Ltd did not yield conclusive results.