Leadership Of All Progressives Congress Says Appointment Of Babatunde Fowler As Chairman Of Federal Inland Revenue Services Was Without Due Process And Asks The Senate To Stop Him
All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday faulted the appointment of Dr. Babatunde Fowler as Chairman of the Board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) describing it as illegal. It therefore asked the National Assembly to correct the anomaly.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Timi Frank, the party said it was unconstitutional for Fowler to assume office without due clearance and approval of the Senate.
According to the party, such act portrays the FIRS boss as either ignorant of the law or acting with impunity.
“Let us look at the FIRS Act before one is accused of crying wolf where none exists. Section 3(2a) of the FIRS Establishment Act, 2007, states that: the Executive Chairman of the Service is to be appointed by the President
and subject to the confirmation of the Senate.
“Where does Fowler derive his authority with which he now presides over the Board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)? He has since assumed office and carrying out the duties of the office. Do we let him go in view of the present financial quagmire in the country? I don’t think we should be swayed by arguments that we have gotten a czar to dress our financial wounds”, APC argued.
The party also said that with Fowler firmly in office “the Senate would only be acting as rubber stamp should it clear Fowler in the face of this gross violation of the Constitution”, adding that the Senate would also be setting a bad precedent should it decide to overlook Fowler’s infractions and clear him still.
“It is wrong for an appointee, who is supposed to be confirmed by the Senate before appointment, to assume office and then come for confirmation. In such situation, the man is already enjoying the pecks of office and the confirmation is being made to look like a fiat accomplished.
“What we are seeing concerning these appointments amount to an offence and gross breach of the constitution. I am aware that senators are peeved by this conduct and there is the thinking that some of those who have assumed office might have disqualified themselves.
“The lawmakers consider the development as an abuse of their respect for Buhari and that the act is undermining the Senate. They will also be asked what legal grounds they relied on to assume duty when the Senate was yet to confirm them,” he stated.
APC further called on the FIRS boss to step aside and allow himself to be screened and confirmed by the Senate as stipulated by law.
“Should he fail to do this I will be compelled to seek judicial remedy against this rape on our democracy and extant laws.
“Though our nation is currently in dire straits financially and revenue from taxes are urgently required to complement oil earnings, that is not to say that the laws of land should be sacrificed on the altar of economic expediency. Let Fowler fulfill the law before administering the law” the party stated.
Continuing Frank said, “As far as Nigerians are concerned, all his actions, since he illegally assumed office, are not only null and void but actionable. For this, I shall go to court whether Fowler is cleared or rejected by the Senate. He has violated the Constitution and he knows that.
“Let him step aside to prove to Nigerians that his assumption of office, in such flagrant manner, was done inadvertently. To continue to cling to the office and expect the Senate to forgive him his sins would amount to grave impunity.
“The dream of every Nigerian, moving forward under the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari, is to have a government and country where the rule of law is supreme.
“Buhari has done well by searching out Fowler – a tax administrator of repute – to oversee the activities of the Board of the FIRS. However, I don’t think the refusal to wait for confirmation by Fowler can be blamed on Bu- hari. The onus lies on Fowler to retrace his steps now as he cannot claim not to know that he is assumption of office on Tuesday 25, August 2015 is in breach of the law.
“We cannot afford to break the laws at will only to administer the laws on citizens who may be in breach of the law in relation to taxes”, APC added.
-Tony Ailemen &Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja