From Uche Usim, Abuja
A landmark truce that ended a 15-year tax practice rift between the members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) and National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) has been brokered by the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Muhammad Nami.
To officially settle all differences, the three bodies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Abuja on Monday.
The prolonged disagreement sprang from their respective tax practice template and saw them take the fight to the Court in 2004 and remained there until Monday’s MoU was signed.
Speaking at the resolution meeting, the FIRS boss described the occasion as historic.
‘This is an epoch-making event because for the very first time, ICAN, CITN and ANAN are coming together on one platform to affix their respective hands and seals to a document, affirming their commitment to the growth and development of tax administration, compliance and practice in Nigeria,’ he said.
‘The significance of today’s event is not only historical but has restored peace and harmony among three professional institutes. Following the disagreement and various court disputes since 2004 to date, between ICAN and CITN on issue of tax practice, it became necessary that FIRS under my leadership should intervene by inviting the three sister professional bodies to Lagos for amicable resolution. It was this meeting that led to the setting up of the committee that has achieved this great result which could not be achieved long before now.
‘I have given a lot of thought to the roles of the various critical stakeholders in tax administration and compliance. Each of us is as vital to the process as the engine is to a car. Each part of the engine is very vital to the efficient running of a car. Likewise, taxation is a multi-professional field that needs the support of its component parts like a car to achieve the optimum output.’
Nami extolled the Presidents and Chief Executives of three bodies for their cooperation and in finding a solution to the problem.
‘They willingly permitted their members to participate in the Committee activities. I also wish to commend every single member of the committee for the great contributions they put in. The committee members were carefully nominated by each of the bodies involved in this work. We knew that a vision cannot have life except there is a willing team to bring that vision to fruition,’ he added.
In her remarks, ICAN President Onome Joy Adewuyi thanked the FIRS Chairman for his mediatory role that settled the long-standing rift.
‘It is really a thing of joy to me that we have come here today and are putting an end to this disturbing issue between the three bodies. Like the president of CITN said, we will talk, we will agree, we will fix dates, but if we go back to our councils, everything goes back to its usual position. So, when the FIRS Chairman decided to call all of us together, it was a big relief for me as a person. I did say to him that whatever the committee he constituted ICAN will respect that wish,’ she said.
Also speaking, the CITN President, Gladys Olajumoke, said several professional bodies had waded into the dispute without any headway.
She thanked the FIRS Chairman for his intervention.
‘I recall that the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria has waded into this and we’ve all been going one step forward and five steps backward. I remember that one of the members of this institute, Mr Emmanuel Ijebere, called me and said: “Jumoke, you are a woman, Onome is a woman… the two of you must come together and make sure that this squabble must end”,’ she said.