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Nine top FIRS officials in EFCC custody over alleged fraud



Nine top officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) are currently being detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged multi-billion naira fraud.

This comes a day after President Muhammadu Buhari announced the appointment of Mohammed Nami as new Chairman of the agency, to replace Babatunde Fowler whose first term came to an end on December 9.

Fowler and his close aides at the FIRS had previously been accused of corruption.

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The officials, who are being detained by the EFCC in Abuja, according to Premium Times, include the Director of Finance and Accounts (DFA) of the FIRS, Mohammed Auta.

Apart from Mr Auta, another director of the agency, Peter Hena, is also alleged to be involved in the scandal.

Mr Hena, the Coordinating Director, Support Services Group of the FIRS, is currently out of Nigeria and will be arrested as soon as he returns to the country, EFCC sources told Premium Times.

The report said a top official of the FIRS, however, said Mr Hena is on official medical leave outside the country and did not flee.

Mr Hena is believed to be one of the closest officials to the FIRS chairman, Babatunde Fowler.

It is still unclear to EFCC officials, whether or not Mr Fowler is involved in the scandal. Premium Times said it has no evidence of the involvement of the FIRS chief.

Details of the scandal, according to the newspaper, are still sketchy as at the time of the report. However, Messrs Auta and Hena are being investigated for allegedly diverting about N6 billion tax funds that should have gone to the Nigerian government, anti-corruption officials said.

PT learnt that most of the other affected officials are from the finance and account department of the FIRS.

All the officials have been in the EFCC detention since April 1.

The report said the EFCC is closing in on several other senior officials of the revenue collection service in a widening investigation to uncover other fraudulent activities involving several billions of government tax revenues.

When Premium Times contacted the EFCC spokesperson, Orilade Tony, said he had not been briefed on the matter. He said any such detention would be at the EFCC office in Wuse 2, Abuja. He asked to be given more time to get more details on the detention.

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