The Oyo State Board of Internal Revenue yesterday halted operation at 12 banks’ branches in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, over alleged non-payment of Environmental Development Levy spanning over three years.
As early as 9 am on Monday, two enforcement teams from the board stormed the banks’ branches at Dugbe, Ring Road, Challenge, Jericho, Bodija, Mokola and Iyaganku areas to carry out the order.
However, officials of some of the banks prevented the revenue officials from sealing their premises, thereby triggering confrontation with the law enforcement officers.
According to eye witnesses, it took the intervention of a combined security force in the company of the revenue officials to ensure that the seal off order was enforced in some branches while enforcement was suspended in others to avert possibly breach of public peace.
According to the board, the amounts owed by the banks range from N800,000 to N5 million with the cumulative payment arrears estimated at about N70 million.
As expected, hundreds of bank customers were unable to access the banks’ premises to do any transaction while those in the banking halls before the milieu were compelled to leave through the back doors of the buildings.
The Chairman of the revenue service, Mr Bicci Alli, was quoted as saying that before the takeover of their premises by the enforcement team, the banks were given enough notice and time to pay their outstanding levies..
He clarified: “The exercise was not outside the law. We went after some banks that failed to give to Oyo State what is due to it after giving due notices to them. We went to their offices this morning to seal their premises, because they failed to pay. It is going to be a continuous exercise this week and next week.
“It will be a part of our operation in the board until people learn to do the right things. We were able to lock about 11 banks for owing Environmental Development Levy. Some of the banks owe up to three years. We wrote letters to them and gave them a long time to comply.
“It is sad that we had to do this for them to pay. As we speak, the level of compliance now is about 90 per cent. They have been coming forward to pay. The only penalty is that we prevented them from getting access to their premises this morning”, the tax administrator confirmed.