NDDC Faults Rivers Govt on Sealing of Office Complex

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Beneth Oghifo

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has faulted the action of the Rivers State Government in obtaining an ex parte order for the sealing up of the office complex of the commission on Aba Road, Port Harcourt, allegedly on tax evasion.

The Rivers State Government had last Friday obtained an ex parte order from the state High Court ordering the sealing up of the premises of the NDDC for failing to pay the River State Internal Revenue Service the sum of N50 billion.

But in a statement issued yesterday by the Director of Corporate

Affairs of the commission, Mr. Charles Odili, the NDDC denied ever owing the River State Internal revenue the said amount, insisting that it had paid all necessary taxes such as Withholding Tax and Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) tax to the state government.

The NDDC statement further noted that even if there were discrepancies between the figures paid and the amount expected by the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), it would then require proper tax audit to ascertain whatever differences there were, stressing that in this case, there was neither any such tax audit nor even a hint that there was a problem.

It lamented that “due process was not followed”, noting especially that the said court order was obtained “from a provincial division of the state’s High Court sitting in Omoku,” some 60 kilometres away from Port Harcourt city.

 The statement further noted that the commission was thus neither given fair hearing nor a chance to defend itself against any allegation, even as it was not even served the said court order before the NDDC premises was sealed.

According to the Commission, “We have had cause to discuss our tax obligations with officials of the RIRS in the past and all the grey areas were resolved amicably. It is therefore an act of bad faith for the revenue agency to begin to take actions that impugn on the reputation of an interventionist agency that is serving the people of the Niger Delta region.”

The statement added that “for the avoidance of doubt, the commission has as recently as January this year settled its outstanding tax obligations to the RIRS,” stressing further that “we have cleared all withholding tax (WHT) on enterprises and Pay as you earn up to March 2019, including arrears.”

The NDDC called for the vacation of the ex parte order so normal work could resume at the commission while both parties could engage in dialogue to resolve whatever differences that might beexisting.