By David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
The Anambra State Government has confirmed that 75 persons have been jailed for collecting illegal revenue from unsuspecting members of the public despite the suspension of levies in the state by Governor Willie Obiano.
The Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, Mr Christian Madubuko, who briefed journalists on Monday while parading three persons, including a traditional chief who were arrested for extorting money from traders using fake receipts, said the suspects would also be handed over to the police who would in turn charge them to court.
The ministry has intensified efforts on the clampdown of illegal revenue collection, since Governor Obiano suspended the collection of levies in the state.
Madubuko confirmed that about 100 persons have so far been arrested in the state for the offence, and that his office would not relent until all fake revenue agents were cleared from the state.
“Go to the Niger Bridge head in Onitsha, once you enter the state from Asaba, they start harassing you with all manner of taxes, and that does not tell good of our state. This must stop. We are handing these suspects over to the police who will charge them to court,” he said.
The suspects — Nze Francis Eze; leader of the revenue collection, Mr. Vincent EzeObi; the driver and Gilbert Ugochukwu — were arrested in Ekwulobia market, Aguata Local Government, while extorting money from market men and women.
Madubuko said: “They are enemies of the state government. The government has banned toll collections and yet they are collecting money from people. They are living on extorting money from people. They extort money from traders coming to do business in the state and those doing business in the state.
“Sometimes, they present all kinds of documents authorising them to carry out their illegal activities.
“Before handing them over to the police, we will take out time to call the traditional ruler and the local government authority, which they are claiming empowered them to collect the levies. Of course I am sure they are lying, because the state government cannot suspend levies and you say a traditional ruler authorised you.”