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- Senor lawyers evade tax
The acting Chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has said some Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) are the the enemies of the anti-corruption war in Nigeria.
Magu didn’t specifically mention names, but noted that the senior lawyers had been using their legal technical know-how to frustrate the efforts of his anti-corruption agency.
He said one of the SANs received N1.7bn in legal fees from a corrupt politician without a “remorse.
Magu’s statement is contained in a paper titled, “Need for Ethical Reforms as NBA Conference Begins” to coincide with the 58th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, which was declared opened by President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, where he said Nigeria’s security is more important than rule of law.
“It is personally disheartening to see lawyers who invest their talents and expertise in advancing the cause of corrupt politicians and public officials. It is amazing that a senior lawyer can accept professional fees of N1.7bn from a politician without scruples!
Mr. Magu also disclosed that the same senior advocate received N300m from a governor in the South-South as legal fees for an election petition case and failed to pay tax but quickly took advantage of the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme when he realised he was under probe.
“The same lawyer with a turnover of N3, 765,414,995.24 only paid valued added tax of N7, 051,928.24. The N300m cash payment which the senior lawyer received from a South-South state government in an election petition matter in 2016 was never captured in his tax submissions to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
“Yet when he got wind of EFCC investigation, he was quick to take advantage of the VAIDS window as cover to shield himself from the commission’s dragnet.”
The EFCC boss said another senior advocate evaded taxes running into billions of naira but paid only a fraction of the amount.
“Another senior lawyer who is quick to advertise himself as the nemesis of the EFCC, has a turnover of over N5.1bn with an assessed total tax liability of over a billion naira between 2010 and 2017. Sadly, he merely declared a meagre N8m as gross earnings for 2014 and 2015, and N10m for 2016,” Magu said.
He noted that lawyers need to demand to know the sources of income of their clients before receiving any money.
“Put the interest of Nigeria ahead of any other monetary consideration,” Magu said.