Abuja- Citizens who pay their taxes regularly have the power to demand accountability from their leaders, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said.
Lamorde said this on Monday in Abuja at the opening ceremony of a training workshop on intelligence-led investigation and prosecution of anti-money laundering and corruption crimes in taxation.
The workshop was organised by the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN).
“The power to tax is what defines the sovereignty of a country. It is the key attribute of sovereignty and statehood.
“Conversely, it is the payment of tax that empowers and legitimises the right of a citizen to ask for accountability of government.
“I suspect that if the citizenry are paying taxes, the level of impunity in the political arena will be significantly minimised and there will be demand for accountability.”
The EFCC boss commended the UNODC and CITN for packaging the programme, adding that a similar training programme had earlier been organised for staff of the EFCC under the same arrangement.
“We have realised from the position of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) that there is a linkage between tax evasion and anti-money laundering and terrorism financing.
“Consequently, billions of naira are lost to the government of Nigeria and it is possible that these lost revenues could be laundered and used for criminal purposes,” Lamorde added.
In his remark, Chief Mark Dike, the President of CITN, pledged the commitment of his institute to continue to support the UNODC in its anti-corruption programme.
“Our enthusiasm was buoyed by the potential impact of the project in addressing issues of tax crimes and evasion which is prevalent in Nigeria.
“CTIN as a statutorily recognised regulator of the tax profession in Nigeria, welcomes every effort that will enhance the quality of our tax system,” he said.
He said that the level of tax compliance in Nigeria was abysmally low, adding that it had impeded development in the country. (NAN)