To continue building infrastructure in the state and to meet other obligations to the state and reduce dependency on the Federal Allocation, the Niger State Government has been working assiduously to generate more revenue and is blocking all leakages to further increase the IGR of the state.
It is in light of the above that the Niger State Internal Revenue Service elected to close down a number of commercial banks and centres, for failing to pay close to N500 million in tax. Offices like AEDC and some major restaurants in the state capital were also closed down until they show commitment before they were reopened.
For over a year, the Niger State Government has tried in vain to reason with these debtors and get them to meet their legal obligations. The state would no longer continue on that path. This is what informed the actions of the state government.
These banks, however, instead of trying to work to pay their debts are looking to blackmail the government by setting up the people against the government. They have gone ahead to shut down services to customers, which is illegal, so as to get people to fault the government for the ensuing difficulties.
The Bankers Forum has sent a letter to BIRS threatening to close banks, even though some banks like FCMB, ZENITH, POLARIS, STANBIC IBTC, UBA, GTB, Access Bank, have shown commitment to paying their debts, they’re however, also joining the rest who are failing to pay their debts, and are proceeding to close down services to customers.
Banks like First Bank, Union Bank, Unity Bank and Heritage Bank are all insisting on not paying their debts. It should be noted that the Bankers Forum is not a trade union and cannot blackmail the citizenship to whom they have private obligations as business entities.
These banks will gladly pay taxes, however high in Lagos and other states but resort to blackmail in Niger State. The unfolding events are as a result of the resolve of the Niger State Internal Revenue Service to ensure proper collection of all taxes due to Niger State. These revenues are due to the citizens of Niger State as a constitutional and legal right
The public must be alive to the plot afoot, and understand that the revenue generated from taxing commercial banks and centres, are necessary to the running and development of the state, especially in the current economic climate. The State Government would not allow itself to be blackmailed into allowing commercial banks and centres to operate without paying tax in the state.
Furthermore, to the closure of a number of commercial banks and businesses in the state by the Niger State Internal Revenue Service due to tax evasion, the sealed off banks have started making payments.
In light of the above, the Niger State Government has opened the businesses with a 14-day window to all banks in the state to resolve all matters.
–Idris is the commissioner of Information and Strategy, Niger State.