By NGIJ team of Oluwasegun Abifarin and Olawale Abideen
As global designers and brands set to storm Lagos for the second edition of Zenith Bank’s highly anticipated Lifestyle Fair, which holds from Friday, November 29 to Sunday, December 1, 2019, the bank has run into a wild storm of controversy brewed from its IGR collection activities in far-away Niger State.
While the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is still combing its books regarding the atrocities of some banks in the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR manipulation in Nasarawa state, the nation’s anti-graft body has been alerted that Zenith Bank is in a mud of a N359.2 million IGR controversy in Niger state.
Before the misadventure in Niger State, the same bank has been dressed in similar robe in Nasarawa State where forensic investigation assessed that it withheld about N176.2 million due to the state.
According to the document received by the Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists, NGIJ, Niger State governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello in a letter dated 23/07/2015 from the office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Malam Zakari Abubakar appointed a Lagos based forensic firm, Forensic Consulting, as consultant to investigate deductions of unremitted 10% Withholding Tax on Credit Interest by some banks operating in the state.

However, an instruction was passed by the then Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary to its supervised Niger State Board of Internal Revenue of Forensic Consulting full appointments to cover all the banks in Niger State.
At the end the forensic investigation, the total refundable by Zenith Bank stood at N359.206 million out of the N4.6 billion due to the state by 12 banks and one Micro Finance institution.

In his petition to the EFCC, obtained by the NIGJ team,  Ori Adeyemo, Managing Consultant of Forensic Consulting alleged he was reliably informed that the Board had given clean bill of health and letters of non-indebtedness to the said compromised concerned banks.
The consultant also alleged that the Board “went ahead to try and sell-out this assessment to persons unknown so far who relied on our reports in lowering the assessment to N102, 457,738.40 sum for reasons unknown after unbridled reports mutilation and suspected behind-the-scene negotiations all in a bid to deprive the Niger State Government of its hard-earned Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).”
The petitioner asserted that he is in receipt of N697, 919,319.78 assessment objection letter from Ijewere & Co. dated 12/03/2017 written for and behalf of Zenith Bank responding to our concluded investigation reports to the Board earlier dated 30/01/2018 for said assessment
Adeyemo alleged further that “unfortunately, the Board went ahead to try and sell-out this assessment to persons unknown so far who relied on our reports in lowering the assessment to N102, 457,738.40 sum for reasons unknown after unbridled reports mutilation and suspected behind-the-scene negotiations all in a bid to deprive the Niger State Government of its hard-earned Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).”
He added that the “total commissions and/or dues fraudulently lost thereto and/or withheld by the Niger State Board of Internal Revenue is N910,422,825.32, which “we hereby request that the EFCC use its wide-ranging investigative powers to help recover for us.”
The petition also included a compact disk (CD) detailing all completed jobs in intellectual properties as so far executed by the consultant for the Niger State Government enabling it to demand for an additional but unpaid N732,143,601.52 commission sum to wit:

PARTICULARS:

EMAIL DATEBANKSTARTENDAMOUNT
29/07/2019Stanbic-IBTC Bank Plc.31/07/201130/06/201746,544,471.96
19/07/2019Skye Bank Plc.29/05/199931/08/2017789,653,459.14
09/09/2019Diamond Bank Plc.29/05/199926/09/2017556,916,153.43
22/07/2019Zenith Bank Plc.29/05/199931/07/2017359,206,378.82
11/07/2019Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.31/03/200431/12/201621,013,850.30
09/09/2019Ecobank Nig. Ltd.29/05/199928/09/2017189,812,363.06
08/04/2019Access Bank Plc.29/05/199931/12/2017556,801,021.88
02/08/2019United Bank for Africa Plc.29/05/199931/12/2017804,625,167.29
04/03/2019Heritage Bank Plc.29/05/199931/12/2017363,544,906.82
08/07/2019Unity Bank Plc.29/05/199931/12/2017409,050,337.56
24/05/2019Keystone Bank Ltd.29/05/199931/12/2017262,638,397.39
31/12/2018Wema Bank Plc.29/05/199931/12/2017192,963,839.30
28/03/2019Aso Savings & Loans Plc.29/05/199931/12/201795,760,456.36
Total Refundable By Banks4,648,530,803.31
Payments Made inclusive of 5% Value-Added-Tax (VAT)4,880,957,343.48
15% Commission Due To Forensic Consulting inclusive of 5% VAT732,143,601.52

“Consequently, in the light of the mutual agreement that have with the Niger State Government, we are entitled to 15% of the established N1,131,931,579.67 liability assessment per completed assignments for N178,279,223.80 sum, which we hereby demand that EFCC should assist us to collect from the Niger State Board of Internal Revenue and its collaborators”, Adeyemo said.