The Bayelsa State Board of Internal Revenue, on Friday, sealed off the Yenagoa office of the Niger Delta Development Commission, over an alleged tax default of N336.17m. It was learnt that the intervention agency in the region is allegedly owing the state government since 2014.
The enforcement team of BIR, with the full complement of security operatives, drawn from the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, stormed the premises of the commission located on Yenagoa-Mbiama Road about 8 am, to carry out the sealing off.
In an interview after the operation, the Director of Compliance, BIR, Mr. Robert Lokoson, said the team was at the NDDC office to recover a tax debt of N336.17m owed the state government by the company since 2014.
Lokoson said the operation was in pursuant of Section 104 of Personal Income Tax (Amendment) 2011 and an ex parte order granted by the High Court of Bayelsa State, in the Sagbama Judicial Division, held at Yenagoa.
He said, ”This exercise is part of our efforts to recover tax liabilities from organisations and individuals that are not complying after having obtained the necessary court orders. We are here this morning with a Warrant of Distrain to seal off the property of Niger Delta Development Commission, Yenagoa office, for tax owed the state government to the tune of N336.17m.
”For the four years, the commission has defaulted in the remittance of Pay As You Earn and withholding taxes.
”Some organisations fail to remit taxes after collecting same from the employees and we have tried over the years after the necessary tax audits to determine the compliance of the remittances or otherwise, yet they have yet to respond.
”In the case of the NDDC, we have written a lot of letters. About a month ago, we were here on a lighter mood to persuade the management of the NDDC to pay but nothing has been done. So, we had to go to court to obtain the necessary court orders to enforce compliance.”
Lokoson said that the board would wait for 14 days and if nothing is done, the tax body would invoke the necessary laws to dispose of all the property of the NDDC to recover the debt through the proceeds of sale.”
It was discovered that management staff of the commission were not available as of the time of carrying out the operation. A handful of workers seen around were not willing to speak on the matter, instead, they referred the team to the head office of the commission in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
It was discovered that some employees were happy with the operation, saying that they found it curious that the NDDC had been deducting their taxes without remitting them to the State Board of Internal Revenue.
The board’s Warrant of Distrain was pasted on the entrance and the main gate of the offices after which the entrance door and the main gate were placed under lock and key.
It will be recalled that during the week, the BIR also effected the sealing off a Chinese firm in the state, Hilong Oil Services and Engineering Company Limited for a tax debt of N109.5m owed the state government for five years.