Pilot Law

Nigeria not mature for tax offenders prosecution


Taye Oniyide is one of the legal practitioners in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital whose voice has become a force to reckon with following his views on some legal issues in the country. In this interview, he speaks with KAYODE ADEOTI on the issue of Federal Government’s plan to start prosecuting tax offenders from 1st April through a special court and the new twist in the corruption allegation levelled against the former chairman of the Federal Pension Board, Abdulrasheed Maina. Excerpts:

New development seems to be surfacing concerning the corruption allegation levelled against the former chairman of Pension board, how do you see this?
It’s rather unfortunate we have all these issues playing out at about the same time, the underlining factor in it is that allegation of corrupt practices has been levelled against Maina sequel to which he was suspended. The argument is that, how could he have been reinstated when issue of corruption concerning him has not been resolved, in fact, they are still pending. More also, the development is coming from a government who has portrayed itself as anti-corruption crusader. It is unfortunate and the event that brought Maina back in the government circle, to be sincere, calls for questioning.  Ideally, such allegation ought to be effectively resolved before he could act in his former capacity as the boss in the sector. Issues that borders on corruption is not about the person involved alone, whether he is truly corrupt or not but about public perfection. The members of the public will want to be interested in what government want to make out of the person who is so accused, they will want to be satisfied that he’s adjudged and found incorruptible. It will be recalled that the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami at a time shied away from the process that brought Maina back to office when he said some officers under him were culpable. That development made the issue appeared more suspicious, I want to believe that his reinstatement was never the best decision on the part of those who aided it because it has tendency to affect the anti-corruption crusade of the current government.
The issue of tax collection is now taking a dramatic twist as Federal Government plans to start prosecuting tax offenders from April 1st through the establishment of special court, some members of the public have faulted this, what is your position?
Ordinarily, I will say it is a good development, we have enough laws that deal with tax matters, and in an ideal setting, it is the responsibility of every individual, cooperate bodies to pay tax. But to every rule, there are exceptions, why I said this , we cannot compare Nigeria with some advanced countries that are so film in terms of payment of tax, we’ve not reached that standard. A lot of things are still amiss which need to be cleared and corrected before we can talk of instituting that idea. Some levies and taxes, to me are more injurious to the common man, this may not help the society at large. We are not ripe enough for this.
Members of the public in Kwara state have condemned the state lawmakers for passing into law, what they described as ‘light penalty of 10 years imprisonment on anyone caught selling human parts, what is your position on this?
Before I condemn it, it will be fair for me to understand the rationale behind the issue…however, if I must reflect on the issue though on moral ground, to my mind, the punishment is too light and it is not sufficient. To trade in human parts; that mean, you are found in possession of dead bodies, and before that could happen, lives must have been terminated. In the ideal sense, punishment for murder, culpable homicide is death sentence, so, why would such grievous offence attracts just 10 years sentence? It is not the best, but I don’t know the rationale behind passing that law.

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