Nigerian tax authorities summon newspaper Publisher over alleged fraud

Posted by News Express | 21 November 2012 | 4,100 times

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Nigeria’s federal tax authorities have summoned a newspaper Publisher accused of “carefully organised fraud of a semi-gargantuan proportion” by one of his former editors.

Mr. Moffat Ekoriko, Publisher of the troubled Lagos-based The Moment newspaper, has been requested to appear before officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) today at the organisation’s headquarters located 15, Sokode Cresent, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja.

A source close to the FIRS told News Express that Mr. Ekoriko (see photo) was requested to bring along

his company’s Accountant to answer questions in connection with alleged failure to remit taxes running into millions of naira deducted from staff salaries to the relevant tax authorities.

The source disclosed that the invitation was extended to Mr. Ekoriko on the advice of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which had been petitioned by Mr. Simon Imobo-Tswam, former Abuja Bureau Chief of The Moment.

“The petition was referred to FIRS because the EFCC believes it is in a better position to investigate the issue,” the source said.

News Express understands that Mr. Imobo-Tswam had last week been invited by FIRS after receiving his petition from the EFCC. As was reported by News Express on October 12, before seeking the EFCC’s intervention, Mr. Imobo-Tswam had sued Mr. Ekoriko and The Moment at an Abuja High Court claiming 200 million naira for libel and unpaid salaries.

Trouble started after Mr. Imobo-Tswam, who joined The Moment in January 2011, sent his letter of resignation on June 22 this year, to take effect from July 31. After initially accepting his resignation, The Moment took offence and dismissed Mr. Imobo-Tswam when he asked for a plan of payment of his accumulated salaries and allowances before he could return his official car. The paper went ahead to publish a disclaimer on Mr. Imobo-Tswam after he wrote through his lawyer to restate his position.

Owned by Chief Timipre Sylva, immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, The Moment debuted as a weekly in January last year but collapsed after going daily in the third quarter of the year.

Source: News Express

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