ABUJA, OCTOBER 13, 2016 – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe Nigerians named in the Panama Papers leaks, which suggested that over $50 billion is taking away from African annually through tax evasion and illicit financial flow.This was as the Congress also charged the Federal Government to put in place measure to ensure that all citizens pay correct tax in accordance with the country’s extant laws, pointing out that there must be tax justice in the country.
The Labour umbrella body, in a letter to the president, also asked government to cancel all tax treaties with tax havens and stop signing new treaties developed nations, especially those aiding illicit financial flow. Panama Papers is a leakage of sensitive documents detailing how political world leaders, celebrities, athletes, and FIFA officials, among others, laundered money using anonymous shell corporations across the world.
Prominent Nigerians named to have links with the offshore assets revealed in the Panama Papers include Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Senate President David Mark and former Delta State Governor James Ibori.
Others are business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, his cousin, Sayu Dantata and a former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd). Speaking at a rally yesterday in Abuja, which was aimed at halting illicit financial flow from the country, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the country can only develop when individuals and corporate bodies operating in the country pay correct tax. Wabba stated that a situation where only the working class pay correct tax is no longer acceptable.
He said the campaign was to demand tax justice. His words: “Sufficiently, the African Union report on illicit financial flow out of Africa have put a conservative figure of $50 billion annually being taken out of Africa through illicit financial flow.
Most multinationals as well as powerful individuals don’t pay tax, but wire their taxes to tax heaven. “You are aware that the Panama paper leaks has given us enough information. So, this is another leg to the fight against corruption, which should not be only on issues of solid cash within our country.
“If you don’t pay tax, there are provisions for you to be sanctioned. But the starting point is to investigate the Panama paper leaks because we must be interested in how those issues are concluded. “It will provide an opportunity in this time of recession to look at our potential.
But Nigeria is a very rich country with a very large population of the poor with a few people controlling those resources.” However, in a letter to President Buhari, the Congress said Nigeria must commit to genuine and effective implementation of the recommendations of the AU report on Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) from Africa.
It said further that government must “aggressively pursue the creation and sustainability of a progressive tax base as a sure and steady way of domestic resources mobilisation. “We strongly urge the Nigerian government to continue to pursue asset recovery as loot by public and private officials and not accept regressive advice such as national assets sale.
To this end, we ask the Nigerian government to investigate and prosecute Nigerians found wanting from the recent Panama papers leaks.
“We trust that the Nigerian government will take the lead in Africa’s efforts to curtail dependency on aid, provide better public services to our people and gain stronger control of our path to sustainable development,” NLC said in the letter to Buhari.