Reps consider bill establishing new security arm for tax collection

The House of Representatives has begun moves to establish a new security agency, Elite Sheriff Corps, to facilitate tax collection in the country.

The bill for an ‘Act to establish Elite Sheriff Corps to facilitate tax collection by relevant authorities in the federation to enhance budget implementation through internal revenue generation and for related matters’, was sponsored by Abdulrazaq Namdas representing Jada/Ganye/MayoBelwa/Toungo Federal Constituency of Adamawa State.

The move to set up the Corps has passed the second reading at the National Assembly and a public hearing is being considered to get the input of stakeholders as part of the legislative process.

The proposed bill read in part, “Enacted by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:

“There is established for the federation a body to be known as the Elite Sheriff Corps (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Corps’).

“The Corps shall establish offices in each geo-political zone of the federation.”

The Corps would have a board consisting of a chairman, a representative (not below a director) of the FIRS; Joint Tax Board; Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission; Accountant-General of the Federation; seven founding members of the defunct Elite Sheriffs Corps and the Commandant-General as member and secretary.

The bill further stipulated that the board members, except the ex-officio members, would be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the minister.

Among other functions, the Corps is expected to develop strategies for the provision of support to relevant tax authorities in the federation, recruit staff and volunteers in accordance with guidelines issued by the governing board.

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The bill added, “The Corps shall monitor and ensure effective implementation of programmes, initiatives and plans designed to enhance the provision of support services to tax authorities to enhance internal revenue generation by governments at federal and state levels.”

It is also expected to assist tax authorities with relevant information in tax collection, remittance and other incidental matters within its statutory mandate.

The Elite Sheriff is also expected to liaise with other security services in intelligence gathering and dissemination and also assist the Nigeria Police and other agencies in the prevention and detection of crime.

Meanwhile, the corps has begun recruiting individuals across the country with personnel being trained by police officers in the Federal Capital Territory, Ogun, Kogi and some other states.

Speaking to our correspondent at the FCT training ground at a primary school in Zuba on Saturday, Assistant Commander, Mai-Angwa Wakili, said about 250 persons were undergoing training in Abuja, adding that about 15,000 personnel would be recruited nationwide.

He said, “A recruit must have a minimum of ‘O’ level or a trade test certificate and aged between 18-45 years. We also require a certificate of medical fitness and the training is being conducted by policemen.”

The Commandant-General of the corps, AIG Ephraim Amakulor (retd.), said the objective of the organisation was to assist the government in generating taxes from the informal sector and improve its revenue profile.

When asked if this was not a duplication of the duty of other security agencies, he argued that the corps is ‘a community policing outfit and the police cannot be everywhere.

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