Nigeria loses not less than N100b every year in tax related fraud, experts at a conference organised by the country’s leading anti-corruption group said at the weekend.
In his opening remark, Chairman, HEDA Resource Centre, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju said corruption remains a teething problem in Nigeria with grave consequences on political stability, poverty, lack of jobs, growing wave of violence and extremism urging Nigerians to work in unity to tackle corruption headlong.
Some of the participating groups include but not limited to representatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, (OSIWA), Society for West Africa Internal Auditors Practitioners of Taxation of Nigeria, (CITN), Lagos Chambers of Commerce, Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management, (CILRN), Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, (CIS), Justice Development and Peace Commission, (JPDC) of the Catholic Church, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), CACOL among others.
“Corruption cannot be fought effectively unless Nigeria deals with tax fraud. Many individuals and corporate organisations evade or manipulate tax. They do this in collaboration with professionals like accountants and lawyers. Tax remains the only steady source of income. Unless there is a transparent tax regime, more than 100b will be lost by Nigerians every year to tax related fraud,” the participants said in the communique issued at the end of the day long event.
Identified corruption patterns were illicit money transfer, bribery, electoral malpractices, sharp practices by professionals, increasing number of cyber criminals who are arrested everyday with deep concern for commensurate diligence prosecution of the suspects
The participants said corruption remains one of the major obstacles blocking the uplifting of Nigeria to her required status as a great, dignified and prosperous country.
“Corruption affects every citizen, young and old, men and women, physically challenged, children and youths, rich and poor, armed and defenceless people alike” the delegates said in the communique.
They expressed deep concern about how corruption affects women and the girl child across the country either through exclusion, discrimination or sex corruption.
The participants said they recognised the fact that the Nigerian government in the past years has done a lot in the fight against corruption, that such efforts included the implementation of policies like the BVN, Treasury Single Account, trial and conviction of high profile politically exposed persons, and many more.
They noted that the country may not have arrived where she ought to be, but definitely not where she used to be.
However, they said in the communique that despite government efforts and the various anti-graft agencies, corruption remains a major problem confronting the country in all areas, leading to poverty, hunger, lack of jobs, extremism, violence, breakdown of family and societal values and the declining fortunes of Nigeria social, political and economic future.
The conference was in partnership with the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, (PTCIJ), National Orientation Agency (NOA) and AFRICMIL.
The group said in any country where corruption thrives, development, growth, the Income Per Capital and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will diminish adding that there can be no genuine investments where corruption is dominant.