Akwa Ibom Govt Tackles Oil Firm over Tax Evasion

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Okon Bassey in Uyo

Following the pressure being mounted for multi-national oil companies to relocate their administrative headquarters to their area of operations, the Akwa Ibom State Government has again accused some of the oil majors in the state of tax evasion.

Total E&P Nigeria Limited (TEPNG) has been identified as one of the chronic tax evader with mounting tax liabilities in the state.

The French oil firm was said to have been in oil exploration activities in the state for over 30 years since it began operations in Nigeria 61 years ago with over N25 billion debt yet to be settled.

Expressing displeasure, the state Internal revenue Service strongly criticized the continue indifference of the French oil conglomerate to clear the alleged tax liability owed the state government.

Briefing newsmen in Uyo, the Chief Executive Officer of Rom Flex Networks Limited (RFNL), Mr. Eyo Bassey stressed that no evidence of tax payment records reflects in the state revenue books in favour of the Total E&P Nigeria Limited.

Bassey who is a revenue consultant to the State Government demised the position of the oil major that it owes the state no outstanding sums in tax arrears being not subject to the state revenue laws.

Bassey further said it was ridiculous for the oil company denying maintaining any operation fields or offices in the Akwa Ibom State being one of the leading South-south oil producing states.

According to him, investigations had revealed that the French oil expert operates three oil Mining Licences (OMLs) in several fields located in Akwa Ibom territory.

“Total E&P has been found to be serially negligent on its enormous tax liabilities to the state government which in the context considered as criminal tax evasion.

As a consultant to the state government on revenue matters, Bassey said there was no other option than to take legal action against the oil giant in order to recover the money being owed the state.

He hinted that the State Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had resolved and taken firm decision to embark on series of legal actions against Total E&P until its calculated tax liabilities are fully settled to the state government.

Bassey regretted that several representations to the oil giant in demand of settlement of its outstanding tax liabilities to the state government yielded no result hence the need for legal action.

He said a-7 day ultimatum has already been issued on the joint venture operator to settle its liabilities or face the dire consequences of its increasing default of the state revenue laws.

“Many well intended efforts have been severally turned down in this direction, and have thus offered step toward prosecuting the oil giant for its serial tax default to Akwa Ibom State Government”, he declared.