Rumpus in FIRS over illegal retirement of directors for cronies

*Its untrue. We followed due process, says Ismaila

By Myke Uzendu

There is palpable tension at the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), over a recent arbitrary retirement of directors and appointment of cronies of the newly-anointed Executive Chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Nami to replace them.

Although the letters handed over to the retired directors indicates that it was the bird of FIRS that gave approval for their arbitrary and premature retirement, independent investigations have revealed that chairman carried out the act alone in violation of extant public and civil service rules.

In replacement of the directors, Nami carried out a lopsided appointments which disregarded experienced staff members within the tax body. He was said to instead preferred contract staff.

The action, according to investigations by The AUTHORITY runs contrary to laid down civil service rules and circulars.

Already the prematurely retired directors and the experienced staff of FIRS have become so distrust and their morale have ebbed considerably, even though Nami claimed he carried out the act in overusing public interest, to boost revenue generation in the country rather than using consultants as was the case during the time of his immediate predecessor, to perform duties that staff members were employed to perform and which they can perform creditably.

According to our findings, Nami allegedly sidelined the 2016 Federal Civil Services Rules and Guidelines put in place by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. He sacked directors who have not reached retirement age and no who under the law ought not to have been removed except through indictment by a properly constituted panel and through approval of the Civil Service Commission, their actual employers, and went ahead to appoint new directors in the Service.

It was learnt that disregarding extant rules Nami on 24th March issued a spurious letter retiring all the directors in FIRS that had worked for eight years and above. This paved way for the appointment of his cronies.

In one odd such internal memo the chairman stated that the retirement was carried out in line with Para 10 – 1(a) (iii) of the Human Resource Programmes and Policy (HRPP) of the FIRS, which he claimed is an internal Human Resources Policy guiding the operations of the service.

In one of such letters which is available to The AUTHORITY, Nami stated: “This is to formerly notify you that the board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service at its emergency meeting No.2 held on the 20th March, 2020, approved the retirement of all directors who have served eight years and above as directors in the service in line with Para 10 – 1(a) (iii) of HRPP.

“We wish them well in their future endeavours. The board also gave its approval for the appointment of four coordinating directors in acting capacity and two group leads for a six months period”.

Then on 26th March, he issued another memo announcing the appointment of new directors.

The memo titled “Addendum of Appointments by the FIRS Board”, stated that they were apoointed “to support management towards meeting and surpassing its revenue targets”.

It read: “This is to formerly notify you that the board of FIRS at its emergency meeting No. 2 held on March 20, 2020 also gave its approval for the appointments.”

However, investigations have shown that Ahmed Muhammed Musa, the Director, (Finance and Accounts); Mustapha Ndajumo, the Special Assistant (Technical) to the Chairman; Ahmed Ndannusa, the Director (Internal Affairs and Efficiency); Abdulahi Ismaila, the Director (Communication and Liaison) and Aisha Hamza Mohammed, an acting Director in the Executive Chairman’s office were ab initio not staff members of the FIRS. Their appointments also ran foul of the Federal Character principle as they are all from Nupe, Niger State, Nami’s home state.

Aside being lopsided, it also contravened the Human Resource Policy of the FIRS which Nami alluded to in retiring the directors whose service were still counting.

It is also against the policy of President Buhari, who is even known to have extended the service of preferred persons even when they attained retirement age.

Recall for instance that it was indicated in Section 2. 22 of the HRPP that “contract appointments shall only be made where the required skills and competence are not available within the service”. Similarly, such appointment must be justified by the affected office or department making the request.

It was learnt that even if he was justified in retiring Directors whose services are still valid in law, there are still several competent staff members in FIRS to replaces the retireea.

Also, Nami’s decision to effect the retirements runs contrary to the directive of President Buhari as indicated in a circular by the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (HOS) on 20th June, 2016, reference number HCSF/428/S.1/139, which vitiated the earlier eight year tenure for Directors in the nation’s public service.

That circular was signed by Winifred Oyo-Ita, former HOS. It says: “With reference to letter No. SH/COS/100/A/1462 dated 17 June, 2016, I write to convey Mr. President’s directive that the tenure policy in the federal civil service is suspended with immediate effect. This notice is for the attention of all concerned for compliance”. FIRS was clearly listed among the agencies of government that were copied and which also received that memo

Contacted, Ismaila, the Director (Communication and Liaison Department) at FIRS, said no public service rules or presidential or HOS directives or circular was breached.

He rather blamed Nani’s predecessor, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, of creating the problems through wrong policies and actions in the past five years.

He said that during the administration of the immediate-past Executive Chairman, “promotion examinations were conducted and those that passed the exams were told there was no vacant position for them to be promoted to.

“When the new Executive Chairman came, he decided to motivate the workers by promoting them and in doing so he has to retire directors that have served eight years and above. His actions are well-intended, to boost morale of staff, entrench fairness and create efficiency in the service”.

He stayed that the contract staff were brought in, but they had been around before the retirement of the former directors.

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