Five staff of the Cross River State Internal Revenue Service have been arrested for allegedly cloning official receipts of the agency with which they gave to politicians to obtain tax clearance certificates to contest the 2013 local government elections in the state.
Mr. Emmanuel Chris Ogar, the Chairman of the State Internal Revenue Service confirmed to CrossRiverWatch in Calabar on Thursday that some of his staff took advantage of the high number of PDP aspirants seeking to obtain tax clearance certificates to contest the Councillor election in the 196 wards in the state to perpetrate monumental fraud.
He said, “Some staff took advantage of the situation we got caught in following high traffic of those seeking to obtain the tax clearance certificates and cornered some of them, collected their money and cloned our official receipts and gave to them to obtain the tax clearance certificates”.
Mr. Ogar who refused to give the names of the staff involved said the cartel cloned the receipts expertly that they looked very much the same as the official receipts making them appear genuine including his signature.
“All the inputs in the receipts looked genuine including my signature which of course is carved; each receipt has a number and for each payment the name of the payer, tax identification number, and amount is contained.
“What the cartel did was to change the identification number, the name of payer and amount but the number on the receipt remained the same and gave to them to obtain the tax clearance certificates”.
He said the cloning involved councilorship aspirants whose number was quite high and the days given them to obtain the certificates were very few giving rise to the rush which the cartel capitalized on.
“The PDP gave them only four days to get the certificates before they could be cleared to contest the elections and two of those days were public holidays so for the two days that were left, everyone was desperate to get the certificate, this place was like a market place which over whelmed our structure which would have done same for even the best of structures”
He said the amount the cartel defrauded the Service of runs into millions as the amount charged each aspirant is 300, 000 (three hundred thousand Naira). He added that the cartel in some instances collected the stated sum while in some instances they slashed the sum to 200,000 (Two hundred thousand Naira).
“The Operations Department alerted me through a memo stating that some of the receipts with which tax clearance certificates were obtained have been cloned, so we had to appeal to the party to allow us to be part of the screening exercise in the three Senatorial districts to fish out the cloned receipts and we went there with our system and discovered them”.
Mr. Ogar said those who obtained their tax clearance certificate with the cloned receipts were not cleared and they had to return to the agency and “We asked them to write a report and they in the report identified the staff who gave them those receipts and we made the report to the State Security Adviser, Mr. Rekpene Bassey and they were arrested”.
He said an audit has been instituted to ascertain the amount involved and the appropriate measures to mete out to the culprits.
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