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FIRS seals off Warri hotel over alleged tax default

By Egufe Yafugborhi

WARRI—IT was a show of shame for the management and embarrassment for guests at the Golden Tulip, Warri Airport Hotels, Effurun, Delta State, as the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, on Tuesday sealed off the hotel over alleged tax liabilities.

Anita Erine, who led the tax body’s enforcement team on the exercise, said that the four-star hotel had accumulated Value Added Tax, VAT, liabilities of over N15.6 million through 2014 to 2016 years of assessment.

“The chairman of FIRS, Dr. Babatunde Fowler, had signed a warrant to seal this company and the only way we can do otherwise is for you to pay up what you owe or show proof that you have paid,” Erine told the hotel staff on ground.

Efforts by one of the management staff on ground to explain that the hotel had not been in operation for the said assessment period proved abortive as the enforcement team insisted on documented proof.

Erine also rejected appeal by the hotel staff to speak to the owner, a prominent Delta politician with the enforcement team leader repeatedly saying, “Sorry, we are not allowed to speak to people on phone. If you have no proof of payment, we are sealing you off.”

The FIRS team, aided by mobile policemen went round the hotel rooms, alerting guests and staff to vacate the premises before placing its seals on the entrances and its gates chained under lock and key.

The team had earlier sealed Kevwe Construction Company, Okwokoko, for similar VAT default to the tone of N84.4m,  while Ishaka Hotels and Tebelos Hotels, both on Refinery Road, Effurun, had a day of grace based on undertaking to resolve their liabilities or get sealed.

 


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