A prosecution witness, Olufemi Otulana, in the ongoing trial of a former Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Dr. Martins Oluwafemi Thomas, on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, told Justice A.O. Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how the defendant’s company fraudulently evaded tax over a period of time.
Thomas was re-arraigned along with one Kabiru Sidi, a Bureau de Change operator, on June 28, 2017, on an amended six-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of $2,198,900.
The first defendant, Thomas, was alleged to have conspired with his wife, Funmi, to make a cash payment of $2,198,900 to one Ibitoye Bamidele at their residence on 20, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos. The second defendant, Sidi was also said to have lied to an EFCC investigator, Afeez Mustapha that he was the owner of the money that the first defendant and his wife transacted with.
At today’s sitting, Otulana, who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, M.K. Bashir told the court that he received a letter from the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, asking him to check the tax status of the first defendant’s company, Safe-line Agro Business Limited.
Otulana also told the court that investigation revealed that no returns or tax payment was ever remitted. He said: “After doing a look-up of TIN and a tax payment research into the company since it was incorporated on February 3, 2013, I printed out the information and sent it to the Executive Chairman.”
Bashir, thereafter, sought to tender the EFCC request letter and response of the Executive Chairman, FIRS, report of investigation by the witness to the FIRS Chairman and the certificate of identification, through Otulana, who is the Head, Tax Controller, Medium and Small Tax Office, Ado Ekiti Branch, Ekiti State.
The documents were admitted in evidence by the court as exhibits G 1-7. When asked to explain his report on exhibit G and if it was in order for the defendant’s company to have two TINS, the witness said: “I realized, through research and investigations, that the company had two TINs: one domiciled in Ado Ekiti Medium and Small Office and the other in Orile Medium and Small Office.
“In the Ado Ekiti TIN, the first defendant used the Company’s RC number and public tax payers’ platform. In the Orile TIN, he used the individual tax payers’ platform, and a driver’s licence number. He used a different phone number, but the same address.
We discovered absence of physical file in both the Ado Ekiti and the Orile Medium and Small Offices, as documents were never submitted by the first defendant. Without physical file, returns submitted cannot be filed, and movement or payment cannot be done, he said.”
Consequently, Justice Faji adjourned the case to May 16, 27, and 30, 2019 for the cross- examination of witness and continuation of trial.