NIPOST, FIRS feud deepens over stamp duty

The feud between two government revenue-generating agencies-Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) over stamp duty collection-has taken a new twist as the former is accusing the latter of hijacking one of its core responsibilities.

But the FIRS described it as “false and indecorous” a twitter post by Chairperson, NIPOST Board, Hajiya Maimuna Abubakar.

In the twitter, NIPOST claimed that both the Service and the National Assembly appropriated NIPOST’s ideas about stamp duties to the exclusion of the postal agency.

However, the FIRS Chairman, Muhammad Mamman Nami debunked Abubakar’s claims, describing it as indecorous.

He said this in a statement titled, “Re: That Vexed NIPOST Twit by Mrs. Maimuna Abubakar,” issued Tuesday in Abuja by Director, Communications and Liaison Department, FIRS, Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad.

 Both agencies have stood their ground in the conflict, accusing each other of acting wrongly in the matter of stamp duty issuance and collection of revenue of stamps, and laying claims to stamp duty collection since 2019.

 The FIRS had said the Finance Act 2019 conferred on it the exclusive right to collect stamp duty on behalf of the federal government.

 But NIPOST countered, saying the Act contains some “contradictions”, which should be addressed by appropriate authorities.

 The postal agency said the Office of the Accountant-General had also issued a circular to NIPOST on the collection of both physical and electronic stamp duty of N50, maintaining there was no conflict between NIPOST and FIRS in the collection of stamp duty.

 In a series of tweets, the Chairman of NIPOST, Maimuna Abubakar, on her Twitter handle, @ref_ng, made an outcry that FIRS had stolen the mandate of NIPOST.

 Abubakar noted that the fiscal authority, which has the primary function of assessing, collecting and accounting for tax accruing to the Nigerian government, had started printing stamps.

“I am worried for NIPOST, having sleepless nights because of NIPOST. We need the general public to come to our aid; FIRS stole our mandate. FIRS are now selling stamps instead of buying from us. What is happening; are we expected to keep quiet and let FIRS kill and bury NIPOST?

 ‘We need to get our mandate. NIPOST is the sole custodian of national stamps; another agency printing and selling stamps is against the law of the land,’ she said.

FIRS counters

But the FIRS in the statement by the Director, Communications and Liaison Department, Mr. Ahmad, said it was determined to ensure all funds collected by NIPOST into its alleged illegally operated stamp duties account, were fully remitted into the federation account.

 The statement said: “The attention of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has been drawn to a tweet by Mrs. Maimuna Abubakar, Chairperson of the Board of NIPOST. Her indecorous tweet would not have deserved any response but for the sensitive nature of the issue at stake, which if not sensibly treated and promptly corrected would likely mislead the public.

“To be sure, NIPOST is a government parastatal established by Decree 41 of 1992 with the function to develop, promote, and provide adequate and efficiently coordinated postal services at reasonable rates.

“This function is clearly contrary to the claim by NIPOST over the administration of stamp duties in Nigeria. On the other hand, the FIRS is the sole agency of government charged with the responsibility of  assessing, collecting, and accounting for all tax types including Stamp Duties.

“It is therefore shocking to us at the FIRS that such a privileged young lady who happened to be appointed to high office would throw all caution to the air to cast aspersions on reputable public institutions like the National Assembly and the FIRS, which she accused of stealing NIPOST idea. This, to say the least, is a preposterous claim and great disservice to the government and people of Nigeria.

“We wish to state categorically that, as an agency which operates within the ambit of the law, the FIRS is determined to not only ensure that all monies collected by NIPOST into its illegally operated Stamp Duties Account are fully remitted into the Federation Account but also make sure that any kobo not accounted for in that account is legally recovered in line with the charge of President Muhammadu Buhari to the recently inaugurated Inter-ministerial committee on the recovery of stamp duties from 2016 till date.

“In addition, anyone found culpable of misappropriating the funds in the said illegal NIPOST Stamp Duties Account would be made to face the law as provisioned by the country’s statute books.

“The public is hereby reminded that we at the FIRS are resolute in our resolve to safeguard national interests and not any personal ego or interest as NIPOST officials appear to carry on lately.

“We therefore call on right-thinking Nigerians to disregard that ill-advised tweet by Mrs. Maimuna Abubakar and allied misinformation being disseminated by NIPOST in relation to Stamp Duties collection, which by law is the responsibility of the FIRS.”

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