By Chinedu Adonu
Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority, ECTDA, on Friday arrested seven fake revenue collectors operating within Enugu North Local Government Area.
The fake revenue collectors who claimed they were staff of the state Ministry of Environment and Enugu North Local Government Area were apprehended by the Executive Chairman of ECTDA, Mr Josef Onoh and a team of security operatives.
It was gathered that the suspects at the point of arrest, had confiscated building materials from different construction sites within G.R.A axis of Enugu metropolis.
Items recovered from the suspects include, 10 cartons of 60×60cm tiles, 2 bags of white cement, fake ID cards, fake Ministry of Environment tax force letter and Youth Empowerment Levy receipts of Enugu North Local Government Area.
Briefing to journalists briefly after the arrest Mr Onoh said the brutality of the suspects action in collecting property levy and other revenue has sabotaged economic development in the state. He assured the suspects would be handed over to the Police who will charge them to court.
“We intercepted them during inspection. I heard some people screaming and shouting and we were already about driving out, so we thought they are robbers. My security team intercepted them and found out they are carrying out illegal duties under the disguise of youth empowerment.
“Their excuses to me was that there was no more political thuggery since the election has ended, they don’t have any work and decided to engage on youth empowerment levy, collecting building levies and every other thing and there is no where in the law of the state because we have banned youth empowerment program and Federal Government has already created youth empowerment program and if you’re lazy and did not tap into it, you should not go down to local government and convert the name youth empowerment program to become development control.
“While we are doing the searching we found out in their position that they have already disposes the owner of the property, his house and other building materials and given him receipt on how to pay.
“The State government have a consolidated account where everybody should pay in and when we look into these boys book log we found out that they have other documented details on how they collect property levy and other money. Some of them have three different fake Identity card from different local government, while some have tax force letters from Ministry of Environment and we contacted the ministry of environment and they denied the letter.
“Because of the way they are brutally enforcing it, it has amounted to broad daylight robbery. Their actions have frustrated positive development in Enugu.
Collecting property levy and other levies are illegal and against the law of Enugu State. They will be charged to court to face legal action if found guilty”, Onoh said.
When contacted, the Head of taxforce Ministry of environment, Mr Amaechi Orji who came for clarification denied knowledge of them as a staff of the ministry, stressing that the ministry do not embark on drive without a team of security agents and do not collect cash.
“None of them is a staff of the Ministry. All the documents they have here are fake. None of them emanates from the ministry of environment. We don’t go on drive without team of security agents and don’t accept or collect cash because Enugu state have a single account where we pay. The ministry also give notice of grace before confiscating any item”, He said.
One of the suspect, Mr Chukwuemeka Iloeme who disclosed that they work for Enugu North local government chairman, Hon Emeka Odunze said that he is not aware of the ban on Youth empowerment levy in the state.