‘Due Process Was Followed in Appointing Aina,’ Fowler Speaks on FIRS Handover Controversy

Tunde Fowler, the immediate past Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has said he did nothing wrong in handing over the management of the tax revenue agency to the Coordinating Director, Domestic Taxes Group, Abiodun Aina.

Speaking with Premium Times on Wednesday, following threats by some workers of the tax agency, Fowler said he followed due process in taking the decision after he was relieved of his position on Monday.

“Good morning I have left the system. But all I will say is that the due process was followed in appointing him (Aina) as a Coordinating Director. To check his qualifications, please google it. It’s in the public domain. Thank you and God bless,” Mr Fowler wrote in the text message.

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It could be recalled that before he handed over to Muhammad Nami as the new Executive Chairman of FIRS, the presidency had directed the mantle of leadership to be handed over to the “most senior Director in the service” until Nami is confirmed by the Senate.

In compliance with the presidential directive, Fowler on Monday evening handed over to Aina after thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for the privilege he gave him to serve in that capacity.

Barely 24 hours after the handing over ceremony, a group under the name, Joint Union Council, FIRS Unit, on Tuesday accused Aina of not possessing the basic qualification to occupy the office.

The group in a petition also accused Fowler of violating the presidential directive to hand over power to the most senior director of FIRS pending the confirmation of the new chairman’s appointment by the National Assembly and assumption of office.

The chairman of the JUC, Okere Samson; the vice-chairman, Idris Abdulrahaman; Secretary, Lekwot Thomas, and 14 other members, the group highlighted in the petition why Aina’s appointment should not stand.

They protested that Aina’s selection was not in accordance with the presidential directive that the seniority list in the FIRS hierarchy should be followed.

JUC, therefore, gave a 72 hours ultimatum that if by the close of work on Friday, December 13, 2019, no action is taken to meet their demand by reversing Aina’s selection, they will no longer guarantee further industrial harmony in the system.

In the petition sent to the supervising Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria and his counterpart in the Nigeria Civil Service Union., the group said the affairs of the FIRS cannot be handed over to a director who is neither competent nor qualified to occupy the position.

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Read the copy of the petition below.

“Please refer to the Presidential Directive on the appointment of the new FIRS Chairman, wherein there was a presidential directive for hand over to the most senior Director in the service.

“The attention of the Joint Union Council of FIRS has been drawn to the handover of the Chairmanship of FIRS on acting capacity to Mr. Biodun Aina on Monday, 9th December 2019. This was a clear departure from the Presidential Directive on the handing over, as he is not the most senior Director.

“Mr. Abiodun Aina in the first instance does not have the basic qualification/requirement (HND or BSc) to be employed into the service.

“Secondly, his appointment to the position of Coordinating Director was against the provision of section 2.19 of FIRS Human Resources Policies and Processes.”

The group quoted the provision on page 24 to read: “Appointment to the post of Coordinating Director shall be made by the Board (of FIRS) on the recommendation of the Executive Chairman. The appointment shall be open to all confirmed Directors of the Service and it shall be competitive based on experience, competence and seniority.”

The group said in its petition that Mr Aina was never a director in the service, rather a Senior Special Assistant to the immediate past Chairman of the FIRS.

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