Professionals from different fields said tax manipulation and evasion by individuals and corporate organisations remain one of the most devastating sources of corruption in Nigeria.
Chairman, HEDA Resource Centre, Olanrewaju Suraju, said corruption remains a big problem in Nigeria with grave consequences such as political instability, poverty, lack of jobs, a growing wave of violence and extremism.
“Corruption cannot be fought effectively unless Nigeria deals with tax fraud. Many individuals and corporate organisations evade or manipulate tax. They do this in collaboration with professionals like accountants and lawyers. Tax remains the only steady source of income. Unless there is a transparent tax regime, more than N100 billion will be lost by Nigeria every year to tax-related fraud,” HEDA said in a statement.
Corruption patterns identified include illicit money transfer, bribery, electoral malpractices, sharp practices by professionals and an increasing number of cybercriminals.
The participants said corruption remains one of the major obstacles hindering the uplift of Nigeria to her rightful status as a great and prosperous country.
“Corruption affects every citizen, young and old, men and women, physically challenged, children and youths, rich and poor, armed and defenceless people alike,” the statement notes.
The participants expressed deep concern over how corruption affects women and the girl child across the country either through exclusion, discrimination or sex exploitation.
The participants said they recognised the fact that the Nigerian government in the past years did a lot in the fight against corruption, and that such efforts included the implementation of policies like the Bank Verification Number (BVN), Treasury Single Account, trial and conviction of high profile politically exposed persons, and many more.
They noted that although the country might not have arrived at where she ought to be, she is definitely not where she used to be.
Some of the participating groups include representatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Society for West Africa Internal Auditors Practitioners of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), Lagos Chambers of Commerce, Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management (CILRN), Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, (CIS), Justice Development and Peace Commission (JPDC) of the Catholic Church, and Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).