Slammed by the police earlier this year with a ₦2.5 billion 21 counts charge of conspiracy and stealing before an Ogun State High Court, Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe’s led Access Bank Plc may be facing several litigations by the Nasarawa State government for defrauding her of over N139 million in unremitted taxes.
An inquiry carried out by a Forensic Accounting Consultancy firm based in Lagos which was engaged by the Nasarawa State Board of Internal Revenue to assist in the improvement of Internally-Generated-Revenue (IGR), withholding tax on dividends, Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) back-duty assessment and IGR suppression (if any) by banks operating in the State from May 1999 to 2017 showed that, the Wigwe-led Access Bank Plc which has operated in the state for years and have gained unlimited access to the state’s wealth and resources may have also joined the bandwagon of experts who engage in annual tax evasion manoeuvres in the state.
We gathered that the forensic accounting firm which worked directly with the State’s Revenue Board on 10% Withholding Tax on Credit Interest, Dividend and Deposit, High Network Individuals as well as PAYE back-duty recoveries established that Access Bank Plc had a total final and conclusive liability accruing to over N139,433,167 (One Hundred and Thirty-Nine Million Four Hundred and Thirty-Three Thousand One Hundred and Sixty Seven Naira) unremitted to the Nasarawa State government between 29th May 1999 to 2017.
While the Nasarawa state government was yet to recover from the savagery of Access Bank Plc, it was established that before its merger, Diamond Bank Plc which is seemingly very vulnerable to contacting the virus of corruption also had a total final and conclusive liability of an earth quaking N443,251,148 (Four Hundred and Forty Three Million Two Hundred and Fifty One Thousand One Hundred and Forty Eight Naira) in unremitted tax to the Nasarawa State government within the period under review.
Sources revealed that perhaps seeing that they have become the bank of choice for the Nasarawa state government which has resulted in little or no effective tax collection mechanism, the bank allegedly began its tax evasion scheme which has greatly hampered the state government’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) drive resulting in the impoverishment of residents of the state.
It is also believed that the bank may not have acted in isolation as there are speculations of a possible mole within the state’s revenue board who may have aided and abetted the bank in evading tax for this long without detection by the relevant agencies or perhaps through the expertise of the CEO Hebert Wigwe for such action to be successfully carried out on the Nasarawa State government for years.
Herbert Wigwe is not new to corporate fraud as he is alleged to have conspired with the immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, to set up a construction company called Craneburg Construction Company in 2016 to take contracts from the state, without any single civil engineering experience which led to the award of $300 million paid through Access Bank which was the official bank of the state when Ambode held sway.
When contacted, the Head Media Relations of Access Bank Plc Abdul Imoyo, stated that he hasn’t seen any document indicting the bank and as such cannot react to the report which he described as mere allegations. “An auditor that wants to collect money for job done and you are roping Access Bank in it; send me the proof of the indictment and I will respond to you”. When further quizzed if he contacted the Nasarawa State branch of the bank to confirm the report of the auditor, he simply replied “I don’t work for Nasarawa State government I work for Access bank”.