The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has explained the rational behinde its decision sealing the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) corporate headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, on Thursday.
Muhammed Nami, FIRS chairman, in an interview with NTA on Friday said the action became necessary over tax debt.
Although, Nami did not state the specific amount, he said NDDC owes an “outstanding tax of N26 billion”.
This is not the first time the tax agency is carrying out the act. In 2018, the Rivers Inland Revenue Service (RIRS) sealed off the NDDC headquarters in the state due to withholding tax estimated at over N600 million.
After a year, the same was done over unpaid withholding tax to the tune of N50 billion.
In April 2021, the FIRS directed all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to remit all outstanding tax liabilities to the service within 60 days.
It said failure to do will lead to the deduction of unremitted taxes from the budgetary allocation of the defaulting MDAs.
Nami said: “Tax debt is a priority all over the world. We’ve sent a signal to ministries, departments and agencies of government that business is not going to be usual in this country.
“You cannot keep government money and force the government, whether at local, state and federal level, to continue to borrow…because these monies (taxes) are used by the government to fund their budgetary requirement.
“We’ve discussed (FIRS and NDDC), even with some cabinet members, and we’ve reached an agreement which will be made known to Nigerians between now (Friday) and Monday.”
Meanwhile, Ibitoye Abosede, NDDC director of corporate affairs, said the development was due to a gap in communication between NDDC and the new management of FIRS.
“It is an ongoing thing. In 2018, this same happened. It is unremitted withholding tax for some years up to 2013. It is not a recent thing,” Abosede said.
“We have done reconciliation and they came with that amount. In 2018, when they sealed the place, we raised an agreement with them to seek ways to deduct at source from what the government is owing us so that we knock it off.
“I remembered that in 2018, we paid N1.5bn but since that 2018 we haven’t had a board and it hampered the efforts of deducting it at source. We don’t have regular subvention from the federal government.
“Efforts are ongoing to make sure the issues are resolved. We have a new chairman in FIRS and we are reaching out to him to let him understand our previous agreement.”
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