The fight between the Chairman of Anambra Internal Revenue Services (AIRS), Dr Greg Ezeilo and the Executive Director of Operations, Dr Christian Madubuko has exposed the several transactions in Soludo Government.Indeed , Solution is here . With the leaked internal memos ,it is obvious that Prof Chukwuma Soludo is asking the public to follow his sweet words but not his actions . For days ,BVI Channel 1 has waited for heads to start rolling in the State Revenue house . But , as usual and expected , Chief Press Secretary to the Governor has gone mute on this dance of shame in the revenue house. From a reliable source , Prof Chukwuma Soludo family is involved in the management of ICT that powers the State revenue collection and the company collects certain professional fees. This is yet to be confirmed by BVI Channel 1.This could be the reason among others why the Governor has not suspended the management of Anambra State Internal Revenue Services.
THE LEAKED QUERY From Chairman of AIRS- Chief Greg Ezeilo
Dear Madubuko, I will thank you to pay rapt attention to the following circumstances associated with your person:
I received a report yesterday, from Mr. Ben Okafor an Executive Director in the Service, wherein my attention was drawn to the operations you carried out on October 4 and October 5 within the areas of Ayamelum, Onitsha North and Ogbaru , whereof you conducted various arrests involving IGR collection Personnel of one of our Authorised Partners—Bigly Oil and Gas Limited. Actions greatly considered inimical to the IGR efforts of the Service and the State in particular.
You will recall, in my last conversations with your shortly after you returned from your overseas trip, I took you to the UHBET Centre and conducted you round that facility; showed you your new office location in that Centre, and intimated you that your job roles would now change to cover among others, New Business Development, Motor Licensing, Road Taxes and overseeing the UHBET Computer-Based Testing Facility (CBT). Additionally, I informed you that, as an Executive Director, you are NEVER to be engaged in any field work again except where it becomes extremely necessary to do so.
Similarly, arising from my initial memo to all directors, management, and every other staff of AiRS, no such actions involving interacting with any external parties should take place without the authorization of the Chairman.
In another development, records from the head of admin showed that you are still in custody of three (3) of AiRS vehicles, namely 2 Siena buses and 1 truck, contrary to our vehicle fleet management policy of one officer – “one vehicle and others to the pool”.
In the light of the above, can you please take immediate steps to address the following queries:You are to provide lucid explanations of your roles in issues in “1” above and why severe disciplinary actions cannot be taken against you.
Upon satisfactory submission on issues no.1, you should take immediate steps to relocate your office to the UHBET Centre as provided and thereof conduct yourself in line with your new job roles.
Provide reasonable and convincing undertaken that you will never engage with any external parties including AiRS Partners or their agents, the police, civil defense, DSS or the press without express approval of the Chairman.
Finally, you should take immediate steps to return two (2) of the three (3) vehicles in your custody back to the office and hand over the keys to the head of Admin for effective fleet operations.
Dr Christian Madubuko Response
I wish to respectfully reply to your query in respect to the above subject matter signed and dated October 6, 2023. I reply to you out of respect I hold unto the Governor who appointed you, and respect I have for you as an elder as well as to set the record straight.
It is indeed noteworthy that you issued a query to me and leaked same to the press and the general public to humiliate my person. I would expect you to also leak my reply to the press as well as the reading public.
Mr. Chairman, you are fully aware that about 90% of the State Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) are criminally in the hands of private individuals. We are battling with touts and other revenue thieves in collection of the remaining 10%. Most of these private individuals have their tentacles rooted in some government officials who back their activities (for weekly returns) and who are bent on peeling off the State IGR into their private bank accounts. Today, touts (agboros) are in the multiplicity of their numbers across the State supported by these acclaimed powerful individuals and backed up by you. It is unfortunate and regrettable that you knowingly made yourself a willing tool for these evil and heartless men to operate. Instances abound where I arrested revenue criminals, charged them to court and remanded them in prison custody but you wrote to release them to continue in their IGR stealing activities thereby making nonsense of whatever efforts made in arresting them and demoralizing the willing spirits that are ready to root out criminality in our State. The New State policy on IGR transformation is digital technology and electronics collections. It is evidently clear that you are working in tandem with the IGR mafia, hawks, and vandals, for whatever reasons known to you. Is this how we are going to achieve the N4b (four billion naira) monthly benchmark expected of us by Mr. Governor? People who suffer from your style of leadership are the very citizens that voted this Government into power. Today, several businesses have moved across the Niger to settle in Asaba, Delta State and several people who come to Onitsha and other parts of Anambra State to buy goods and services no longer come as a result of the criminal activities of touts.
Now, let’s take a tour on the issues raised in your query:
1.a. Firstly, on the late night of Tuesday 3rd October 2023, I received a call from the Anaku Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Mr. Harrison who reported an unprecedented activity from the Revenue agents in the Ayamelum axis of which he tagged “revenue criminals”. He maintained that there have been outbursts of hooliganism at Anaku junction, close to the Anaku Police Station. He also stated that there were severe AK47 gun shots at the revenue collection point the night before and requested my office to intervene. I intervened in the matter to rescue my community from the hoodlums because one of the names mentioned to me by the DPO has been a well-known ‘bad boy’ terrorizing the Ayamelum area with dangerous weapons and whom I am aware has been in the wanted list of the Anambra State Government and security operatives on account of his dangerous activities in my area.
b. As an Executive Director (Operations), I considered the DPO’s complaint as an urgent call because that was partly how Anaku/Omor communal crisis began in May 2021 which left several innocent people killed and many houses burnt down including my own house. Before I went for the operation the next morning, I came to your office to inform you about my move and the need for an urgent intervention as the situation demands. I was told you were in the State Executive Council Meeting. I then sensed it could be distracting to ring you on the phone while you were in a meeting. I, therefore, met with the Executive Director (Assessment), Mr. Benjamin Okafor, our colleague and intimated him of my mission. I requested him to pass my message to you when you return. When I returned from the journey, you were still at the Exco meeting. I again invited ED Assessment to observe the items we recovered from the Bigly revenue agents before the arrested persons. Such items recovered includes transactional receipts, tramadol, mkpurumiri, a packet of cigarette, and other dangerous narcotics.
c. The aim of my action was to teach other miscreants who specialize in revenue theft that Anambra State Government now frowns at individuals or groups who steals or deviates from revenue collection agreements. Before now, there were news making the rounds that Madubuko stationed some hooligans in Ayamelum area to be extorting money from Motorists. Recall Mr. Chairman that you jokingly asked me this question in one of our interactions in the office. It was on this note as well as to identify the terrorists who were suspected to be revenue agents that I quickly went to fish out those that parade my name in bad light. On arrival, l discovered it was Bigly agents. I interrogated them together with some drivers already in their net who were not able to meet up with the N32,000.00 being demanded from them by the Bigly agents and some Anaku people seen at the scene who complained about their extortions.
d. On the early morning of Thursday 5th October 2023, I tried reaching you on the telephone to inform you of my plans to take the suspects to court, but the network was playing off. I then sent you a WhatsApp message explaining my move at exactly 7:03am. I came to the office to see you before going to court, but you weren’t on seat. I then went to the ED Assessment and informed him that I was taking the suspects to court. I only took the suspects to a court in Ogbaru on that 5th of October. I was not on operation or any other kind of enforcement activity at Ogbaru. That same day, the mini-truck drivers were protesting in every nooks and cranny of Onitsha against the Bigly Oil and Gas for double taxing them. The protesters on their own caught the Bigly Oil and Gas workers with various items including a notebook that contains the recording of outrageous amounts collected from their members. They also arrested one man engaged by the President General of the Anambra State Market Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA), Chief Humphrey Anuna (a.k.a Onwa Oreri) who engaged him with fake receipts bearing the PDP insignia claiming that, you, Mr. Chairman approved the collection.
The money allegedly being collected as ‘traders’ welfare’ contradicts and conflicts the partnership authority paper issued to the Bigly Oil and Gas Services. On hearing I was in a court at Ogbaru, the protesters (mini truck drivers) stormed the court with the suspects they had arrested. It was there that I confiscated the notebook and decided to return to Awka with the lady who was caught with the notebook. I was still in the court premises about returning to Awka when Mr. Friday Umeh (a.k.a Ofia Afulu-Ego) phoned and requested to see me as a matter of urgency. I decided to drive to his office at Ochanja Central Market in Onisha South Local Government Area to see him. I was in his shop when Mr. Ken Nwankwo (A big Nwankwo) arrived with a retinue of DSS personnel and Police Officers and he pleaded with me to release the lady caught with the notebook mentioned above. I released the lady to him unconditionally and returned back to Awka with the notebook as an exhibit. I came directly to your office to explain to you what happened. I met you busy in your computer and the manner you responded to me when I greeted you seemed to indicate otherwise. I decided to leave but told you I will return back the next morning since you were busy at that time. Later that evening, “A big Nwankwo” came to me in Awka for a peace talk. In the midst of our discussion, he jokingly informed me of his plans with the AiRS Chairman, Dr. Greg Ezeilo to start a media war with me. We laughed over it. Shortly after he left, journalists started calling my attention to some online publications against me by Bigly firm. This confirmed the statement he dropped. I called his (Bigly) attention to it and forwarded the published articles I received to him. But some negative write-ups against my person kept coming. I had to respond to clear the air. I am, therefore, not aware of any operations carried out by my humble self in Ogbaru and Onitsha North on the 4th and 5th as claimed in your query. If there were operations carried out on these days, they were not to my knowledge and should not be associated with me.
e. Mr. Chairman, recall that sometime in May 2023, the Health Centre in your community, Igbo-Ukwu was threatened by the activities of what you called in your own words “touts” and probably revenue thieves. You requested me to assist you chase away the hoodlums. You asked me to mobilize DSS and Civil Defense. You personally insisted I should join you in the visit to the health center at Igbo-Ukwu. I mobilized and we went and addressed the situation. At that time, Mr. Richard Nwora Madiebo was the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the AiRS. Mr. Richard Madiebo was never consulted before we embarked on this mission because of its urgent necessity to you and to save your people from the suspected criminals. That mission was never an illegal or unlawful operation. Mr. Richard Madiebo never queried you for embarking on that mission.
f. Resulting from (b) above, I am aware that the Bigly Oil and Gas Services is partnering with the AiRS to help shoot-up the State revenue. I am also aware of the conditions upon which they were partnering with the State Government IGR Office. When I arrived at the venue where the Bigly staff were arrested at Anaku junction, I saw things contrary to agreement between the AiRS and Bigly Oil and Gas Services. My observations indicates there was no POS machine, no staff from UHBET, no CRO and no security personnel, etc as agreed. Added to that, manual receipts were being issued to motorists, transactional record book and receipts found evidenced monies collected were above the contractual rate/amounts agreed upon. I noticed with dismay that you, Mr. Chairman has elevated manual IGR collections contrary to our agreement with Mr. Governor that digital technology are to be used. May I refresh your memories on the terms and conditions upon which the company was contracted to partner with AiRS. The condition is that Bigly Oil and Gas Services is to:
Provide a Tax Hub at each of their locations.
Engage Tax Care Support Staff for all secretarial duties.
Must work with 2 of our UHBET staff for the purpose of all financial dealings which must be electronic in nature; namely, Bank-PayDirect, POS terminal or USSD support channels.
To earn a commission on each IGR receipt at 12% on every collection supervised by the firm.
To ensure that adequate security measures are in place to guarantee hitch-free operations.
To make weekly reports to the AiRS to show transparency and accountability.
My visit to the scene shows that none of these conditions were met. Since the Bigly acted in contravention of the partnership agreement it signed with AiRS, how do we now quantify what has been collected, where the money goes and the percentage to be given to the Bigly? If this postulation is correct, why did Mr. Chairman issued a query to me for doing the right thing?
The above authority paper contradicts the money being collected by Bigly Oil and Gas as evidenced in exhibit A and B below.
The motorists (taxpayers) in my zone complained bitterly how Bigly staff applied brutal force on them before collecting these monies. This is contrary to Governor Soludo’s manifesto to rid Anambra State off Agboro and touts. The actions of the Bigly staff rather gave wrong impression of the IGR and our working Governor in the eyes of the common man who did not witness our written agreement with the Bigly Oil and Gas. I contacted the CEO of Bigly Oil and Gas to report what his men were doing but he did not take the call nor return it much later. At that point, I felt an essential major action must be taken to correct such bad impression and to clear my name from the allegations that I stationed some hoodlums at the Ayamelum area who are collecting revenue for my personal use and to save my people from these criminals, hence my action. Therefore, what I did was to teach other AiRS partners lessons that the fact they were contracted is the more reasons they MUST keep to agreement. That failure to abide by agreement can amount to unwavering consequences. After all, when things go wrong, blame goes to Mr. Governor and his administration, and the people (the electorates) will not be in the know that Mr. Governor did not approve any AiRS agent to intimidate, extort, or overtax them.
This is practical evidence that the Bigly firm is already in serious breach of the fundamental terms of the partnership agreement enshrined in the IGR Authority letter attached above that empowers them. Note as stated earlier, the effect and burden are on the motorists who are already groaning in pains. The blame is on the Soludo administration. The earlier we caution our partners the better.
The transactional record books I confiscated from Bigly agents are attached below as Exhibits A, and B which shows evidence of what the agents are collecting from motorists across the state.
What impression could this amount being extorted from the innocent motorists create in the members of the public about our party, APGA and the image of our Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, CFR, who graciously found us worthy to serve in his government? The Bigly firm double charge motorists, intimidate them and in most cases puncture their tyres and break their vehicle windscreen. What a barbaric manner of collecting revenue in the 21st century! The public perception about this Government is at its lowest ebb resulting from the manner people are being extorted and double taxed. Are you not concerned about this Mr. Chairman? Our goal is to increase the State revenue generation, and that must be done in a most civilized manner. Must we kill our own citizens to get tax from them? We must have empathy and be human in our dealings. I am concerned because I am involved, and these are the very citizens that voted this Government to power. I am not saying they should not pay their tax, but that tax must be collected in the most civil manner.
Mr. Chairman, you are not bothered that the staff of the said Bigly firm, collected revenue in cash and also issued manual receipts as against its partnership agreement with the State Government to use Point of Sale (POS) machines for revenue collection in the State? It appears that you are not in support of transformation of Anambra State revenue collection from manual to digital revenue as directed by Mr. Governor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, CFR, which objective was to increase the State IGR through digital processes and possibly abolish revenue theft. You are not also worried that Bigly staff who supposed to be collecting revenue digitally through POS and under the supervision of the AiRS Community Revenue Officers (CROs) staff and the AiRS Unified Highbrid Enforcement Team (UHBET) staff to block leakages are working alone collecting cash from the public. Not only collecting cash but collecting above the stipulated amount in the agreement between Bigly and the State. Isn’t this action alone amounts to a fundamental breach of the agreement between Bigly and the State as well as a clear intent to defraud the State of its revenue?
Mr. Chairman, be further informed that the arrested staff of the Bigly firm were arraigned in court by the Police for various criminal offences they committed against the State and these same people you hold so tenaciously as AiRS staff are denied by their employers Bigly Oil and Gas in the public space specifically by their project manager, Mr Chukwuma Nwabuikwu in their online publication titled: UNCERTAINTY IN ANAMBRA REVENUE HOUSE AS SOLUDO’S AIDS FIGHT DIRTY OVER SUPREMACY. Your particular interest in this case may create many questions that seemingly would pose as barriers to meeting the N4b naira monthly target given to us by Mr. Governor to achieve. As it is, we are struggling to beat 55% of the target. This, I believe, is not encouraging.
I am even more worried to observe that a partnering firm whose job function is to supervise the AiRS digital collections and pay into State account digitally is now coming up with a cheque of N150,000,000.00 (one hundred and fifty million naira), which is obviously less than 20% of what has been collected in the field on behalf of AiRS. Remember that same company made over N1,269,360,000.00 (One billion, two hundred and sixty-nine million, three hundred and sixty thousand) within the three months and two weeks period it operated as revenue agent for Anambra State in late 2022 and early 2023 in a very obnoxious manner that warranted the abrupt suspension of the flying revenue by Mr. Governor in January 2023. The records of money collected by the firm is not only available but also verifiable to date. Till today, Bigly firm claims it has not recovered the N450,000,000.00 (four hundred and fifty million naira) it invested in the Anambra IGR. That is a blatant lie. I would like anyone who doubt this to challenge me and I will make a verifiable records of its collections and the amount collected available.
2.a. Mr. Chairman, with all due respect to your person, you never invited me for an official office meeting when I returned from my Australian trip. You applied the attitude of “winner takes all” syndrome as if you had been in competition for the office of the Chairman with anyone. I, Dr. Madubuko exercising my professionalism, phoned you and requested that I would like an opportunity to sit with you to settle our differences and work together. I am glad you granted me an audience. Therefore, the meeting was a reconciliation meeting between you and me at the BON Hotel, Awka. I personally asked you to narrate what you believe that was causing the rift between both of us. I listened to your narration patiently. You asked me the same question and I told you my own side of the story. Both of us apologized to each other and agreed to work as a team.
Recall Mr. Chairman that you told me that the use of manual receipts will forestall the digital revenue collections of which Mr. Governor’s vision supports. You explained that it was on this basis the Bigly firm was employed. I asked a direct questions to you regarding the circulating news that you, the Chairman, Dr. Greg Ezeilo collected N4,000,000.00 (four million naira) and two cows from Mr. Ken Nwankwo before your Ozor title taking at Igbo-Ukwu your community and that he (Mr. Ken Nwankwo, a.k.a ABig) gave you N20,000,000.00 (twenty million naira) to be able to secure the appointment letter for the “upstream and downstream” revenue buckets. You accepted that both incidence happened. I advised you the dangers of accepting things like that from ‘partners and contractors’ as the case may be. You told me you will refund back his N4,000,000.00 to him and on issue of two cows, you retorted: how much does cow cost? That you will give him back his two cows. On the N20,000,000.00 (twenty million naira), you said you borrowed the money from him to rehabilitate the UHBET Centre. I was amused but not deceived because you took the money and started doing his biddings. It is not surprising, therefore, that you saw nothing wrong with our IGR Partner, Bigly Oil and Gas Limited recruiting hardened criminals across the State for revenue collections. Rather, you called for my head for daring to venture where the angels fear to go. I can now rightly or wrongly confirm that even the angels eat beans.
In that meeting also, you admitted many things you have done arbitrarily, and in a dictatorship manner without carrying we your colleagues along as a team. You equally admitted having encroached so much on areas of my primary assignments as approved by Mr. Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, CFR. You promised to make amends so we can join hands to upscale Anambra State revenue. We also discussed the decline in the amount of revenue generated in August 2023 and how to upscale the revenue. We noted that the primary cause was lack of collaboration. Of everything we agreed upon, Mr. Chairman has not kept to even one.
b. I recalled you mentioned to me in that meeting that you are creating a new office and you would like me to help with managing the new Business Development, UHBET Computer-Based Testing facility among others. You invited me to come with you the next day to view the facility. I recalled I honestly told you that I am not an expert in computers and would not be able to manage the new office based on the computer issue. We have several professionals who are computer wizards working with the AiRS. Why can’t you appoint any of them to oversee the new office and exert professionalism in that area. Why would you want to assign me to a role you are aware I am not competent to handle? Is that not a calculated design to keep me away from the main job the Governor invited me to do? Putting a square peg in a round hole has been a major problem in Nigeria that retards growth and development and that is what you want to replicate at the revenue house. As a brand new Chairman, your choice of discarding experience and capacity needed in driving this onerous task and agenda, may likely eventuate into probability possibility or possibility probability. I am hearing for the first time from your query that as an Executive Director, I will never be engaged in any field work again except where it becomes extremely necessary to do so. Is there anything going on in the field Mr. Chairman is trying to hide away from me? It looks like my going to the field to catch these revenue thieves and touts seems to be offending you, Mr. Chairman. I am still amazed that an Executive Director of Operations is being muscled and pressured just to stop him from knowing what is happening in the field.
Your decree that I should stop going to the field operations only exposed your bereft of knowledge on leadership or management by walking around. Every successful leader or organisation practises management by walking around or management by wondering around. It is also known as leadership by walking about.
This leadership style requires every leader to constantly leave the comforts of his or her office and go to the frontline to see directly how things are done. Relying on reports from field officers or from subordinates (such as the corrupt UHBET) you created is fraught with risks. The reports they send may not be comprehensive or may be distorted or may be late. When the leader is going to the field, the people there should not know because if they know, they will take steps to make the visiting leader see only what will please him, and not reality. Therefore, the visits shouldn’t be structured.
The company that popularised management or leadership by walking about is Hewlett Packard (HP), one of the greatest IT companies of all time which has kept on reinventing itself. Its practice of management by walking around is one of the driving forces of its success. Every American president has always embraced leadership by walking around. That’s why recent American leaders visited war fronts in Iraq without the troops being put on notice. The visits boosted the soldiers’morale. Competitive multinational firms adopt this leadership practice. There are many instances of how multinational leaders got to know of the true situation of their foreign operations only when they left their C-suites and visited their foreign subsidiaries.
My friend, C. Don Adinuba, the immediate past Commissioner for Information in our state, has recounted how Prof Bart Nnaji, then the newly appointed Minister of Power, went to the Olorunsogo Power Plant in Ogun State in 2011 and discovered that PHCN managers who were telling his predecessors and the Nigerian people that only three out of the eight units in the plant were working because the Chinese who built it provided the operational and maintenance manuals written only in Chinese were lying. When this lie was bursted, all eight units began to work well within days, and power supply increased all over Nigeria . Thanks to Prof Nnaji’s understanding of the value of leadership by walking around.
My adoption of leadership by going to the frontline has helped the State IGR grew from N1.8b (one billion, eight hundred million) in March where we met it to N2.8b (two billion, eight hundred million) in July 2023 after which I traveled to Australia in August and returned in September to meet the IGR in a state of terrible decline. Since then, revenue thieves have multiplied and seemed to have formed a terrible alliance with you. The state of the IGR steady decline under your watch and style of leadership is becoming too dangerous for silence. Think of what it would be if we pull our talents and strengths together, we would have definitely reclaimed over 85% of the State IGR in the hands of the revenue vandals. By now, we would have been talking of generating N5b (five billion) while targeting at N10b (ten billion) as from 2024.”
The above is from two top management staffers of Anambra revenue house yet the office of the Governor has not reacted . Indeed ,Solution is here !