Enugu State Internal Revenue Service officials on Wednesday commenced a massive clampdown of tax-defaulting companies and institutions in the state.
In the exercise, two federal government agencies, a filling station, three major hotels and the premises of a telecommunications company were sealed for alleged failure to remit about N30 billion in taxes.
Some of the affected federal agencies include, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), National Examination Council (NECO), the University of Nigeria, Nsukka’s (UNN’s) Microfinance Bank, Golden Royale, Brifina and Blue Island Hotels, Etisalat office and a filling station.
The revenue service also threatened to seal up UNN’s campuses in Nsukka and Enugu for alleged failure to remit about N12 billion in taxes to the coffers of government.
Speaking to journalists on why the measures were embarked on,, the chairman of the board of the revenue service, Emeka Odo, said that the board had obtained ex-parte orders from the State High Court to seal up the affected companies and public institutions.
Odo said that the affected entities and public agencies would remain sealed until they remit their outstanding taxes to the government.
He explained that government had encouraged individual tax payers and tax agents to comply voluntarily by paying their taxes promptly.
The tax administrator stressed that the process of remittances of government revenues had also been reformed in order to make it easy for taxpayers to pay their taxes as and when due.
He clarified: “In the past one year, we have written the affected institutions severally and held meetings with them on the subject matter but they would rather hold on to government funds illegally. Their actions have been denying the state government of the funds it needs to execute its developmental programmes which would impact positively on the lives of the people.
“We were left with no other option than to invoke the laws by obtaining an ex-parte order which has enabled us to seal the institutions”, Odo added.
On the UNN issue, the board chairman pointed out that as the highest employer of labour outside the state government, the University had refused to remit over N12 billion from deductions they made from workers’ salaries over the years, saying the institution’s non-compliance is not desirable for the development of the state.
He, however, maintained that the Service did not seal up the institution along with others because of its determination to follow-through with all the procedures.
Odo insisted that once the necessary court orders were obtained, the Service would not hesitate to seal up the University campuses in the state, advising the University authorities to remit the taxes owed as soon as possible to avoid sanctions.
According to him, the Service’s resort to seal up tax defaulters’ premises has been yielding the desired results, with over N2 billion recovered from outstanding tax liabilities in 2017.