Vincent Obia

A good governance advocacy group in Ebonyi State, Movement for Greater Ebonyi, has condemned what it called draconian taxes and levies introduced by the Governor Dave Umahi government.

The group said the governor’s recent announcement that illegal tax collection in the state had been suspended was deceitful.

It accused Umahi of trying to hoodwink the people with a dishonest declaration concerning the controversial tax regime to secure re-election in next year’s general election.

Movement for Greater Ebonyi slammed the governor for turning a blind eye to economic dislocations brought about by his administration’s several taxes and levies.

“This is absolutely ludicrous,” leader of the group, Silas Nworie, said. “Many well-meaning Ebonyi people had begged him to stop his penchant for using unruly thugs to extort scarce money from innocent Ebonyi residents in the guise of taxes and levies, but all pleas fell on deaf ears.”

Nworie said Ebonyi people were not deceived by the governor’s antics.

A resident of Abakaliki, the state capital, who had been a victim of the alleged tax harassments, but preferred anonymity, said regarding the controversial tax system introduced by Umahi, “what he should do now is to urgently arrest and prosecute those criminals that squeezed money out of people.

“But we know he cannot do it because those people are his men; they were acting on his instructions. Ebonyi people know this. They are not deceived.”

The contentious taxes and levies were said to be part of the reasons a senator from the state and member of the governor’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sonni Ogbuoji, moved to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A youth leader in the state’s chapter of APC, Benjamin Ogbonna, said the governor had created hardship in Ebonyi State. “People are forced to buy ‘environmental basket’ for N8,000, whether they already have or not.

“Monthly refuse collection fee is N400 per shop, but collection and disposal never happens,” Ogbonna alleged, adding, “These and other numerous oppressive acts of the governor are the reasons for the public outcry that forced the governor to indulge in his recent unsuccessful sham move.”