Ado-Ekiti—As controversy continues to trail the new tax regime imposed on business outfits in the state, Igbo traders in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital yesterday staged peaceful protests against what they described as “outrageous taxes” imposed on them by the state government.
Shops belonging to the Igbo traders, along the state secretariat road and a branch of Zenith Bank, NNPC retail petrol station were shut down by officials of the Board of Internal Revenue, BIR, in an operation that commenced at about 9.00 am.
The traders marched from their shops to the BIR headquarters opposite Old Governor’s Office, forcing the frightened civil servants working at BIR to shut their doors against the protesters and didn’t open until 4.00 pm closing time.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Revenue, Ropo Ogunjobi, was not available to address the protesting Igbo traders.
Explaining the reason for their protest, the traders claimed they entered into agreement with BIR for a tax rate of N5,500 only for the officials of the tax agency to storm their business offices yesterday morning claiming that the agreed tax no longer subsists.
Chairman of Secretariat Road Traders Association, Uchenna Madunagu, told Vanguard that the BIR imposed taxes ranged between N75,000 and N180,000, which they described as outrageous.
Madunagu said the traders were forced out of their shops by stern-looking armed policemen, and defence officers clutching chains and padlocks with which their shops were sealed.
The traders boss claimed that most of the traders still had cash, passbooks, cheques and keys to their homes inside their shops.
Secretary of the association, Chizom Unegbu, urged Fayose to reduce the taxes imposed on the traders saying there should be no selective application of taxes in the state.
Unegbu expressed disappointment that Ogunjobi was not in office to attend to them declaring their readiness to continue their protests until government accedes to their demands.
Ogunjobi, while reacting to the development said the question of the traders paying N5,500 never emanated from his office.
He said: “Those traders were economical with the truth, N5,500 they are talking about is not from this office because what we are talking about now is the Personal Income Tax.
“We have assessed them, they should go and collect the assessment notice and go to the bank and pay their taxes.”
Judiciary should be urged —Fayose
Meantime, Governor Ayodele Fayose has declared that for battle against corruption to be successful, there is the need for a complete over hauling of the nation’s judiciary.
Fayose lamented that the Nigerian judiciary, which ought to be the last hope of common man has been compromised, saying, most judgements in Nigeria today are monetised. If the battle against corruption can be won between the Bar and the Bench, it will be won in the society.
The governor, who spoke at a church service held at the Cathedral Church of Emmanuel, Ado Ekiti to usher in the 2015/2016 legal year, said: “for Nigeria to move forward and for us to have a just society, the judiciary has a major role to play and must be seen to be doing so.”