By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
At least two federal government institutions, a filling station, three major hotels, as well as the complex of a telecommunications company were Wednesday sealed off by the Enugu State Government for alleged failure to remit about N30 billion in taxes to the coffers of the state government.
The affected institutions include the National Orientation Agency (NOA), National Examination Council (NECO), the Micro-Finance bank of the University of Nigeria (UNN), Golden Royale, Brifina and Blue Island Hotels, Etisalat office and a filling station.
The state government has also threatened to seal off the University of Nigeria (UNN) campuses in Nsukka and Enugu for alleged failure to remit about N12 billion in taxes to the coffers of the state government
They were sealed off at about 6am by the officials of the state Board of Internal Revenue who were accompanied by riot policemen.
Briefing journalists after the â€œsting operationâ€, the chairman of the board, Emeka Odo, said the board had obtained exparte orders from the state High Court to seal off the affected institutions.
He said they would remain under lock and key until they remit to the state government all the taxes they had collected and withheld.
He noted that government had encouraged individual tax payers and tax agents to comply voluntarily by paying their taxes promptly, adding that the process of remittances of government revenues have been reformed in order to make it easy for institutions to pay their taxes like other corporate citizens.
â€œIn 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 action has been denying the state government of the funds it needs to execute its developmental programmes with would impact positively on the lives of the people.
“We were left with no other option than to invoke the laws by obtaining an exparte order which has enabled us to seal the institutions,” he said.
On the University of Nigeria, Odoh said 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, a situation he said was not helpful to the state government.
He however said the agency refused to seal off the institution at the same time with others because of its determination to follow through with all the procedures.
The chairman insisted that once the necessary court orders were obtained, the agency will not hesitate to seal off the university campuses in the state.
He asked the university authority led by the vice-chancellor, bursar and registrar to quickly do the needful before it becomes too late.
He also expressed delight that the agency’s resort to seal off institutions indebted to the state government had continued to yield positive results, adding that the agency recovered over N2 billion last year.