Cross River Warns Illegal Revenue Collectors
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Cross River State Government has warned illegal revenue collectors robbing businesses of their money in the state to desist or risk being prosecuted.
A statement issued on Thursday by the Cross River State Anti-Tax Agency said despite a law proscribing illegal taxation, tolls and levies on market women, petty traders and small scale businesses in the state, some of these illegal tax operators were still having their ways under the guise of generating revenue for the state government.
According to the chairman of the agency, Mr Emmah Isong, it was unfortunate that some elements were bent on frustrating the efforts of the Cross River State Governor, Mr Ben Ayade, to help alleviate the plights of residents of the state.
He wondered why the illegal tax collectors would want to exploit market women, petty traders and commercial transport drivers under the guise of generating revenues for the state.
Mr Isong, who doubles as the National Publicity Secretary of the Police Force of Nigeria (PFN), said these illegal tax operators have created all kinds of revenue points for themselves at the detriment of others.
“It is very worrisome that even after the Agency had had series of meetings with relevant agencies of government on the modus operandi of tax and levies’ collection, there appear to be infractions on the part of some agencies, thereby causing some untold hardship to small scale business owners, petty traders and taxi drivers alike.
“The agency frown at a reported case of a tragic incident which occurred March 18, 2021, at the Municipal in which one Chuks, in a trending video, was dehumanised by an illicit tax operator in Calabar, is despicable.
“We further frown at another reported case where one Mrs Chukwuma, a widow with 4 children leaving at 8 Miles, was allegedly manhandled and her goods impounded by hoodlums masquerading as tax collectors and given 7 days to pay up or lose her goods.
“These acts are not only condemnable but capable of setting back the low-income earners exemption tax relief policy of Governor Ben Ayade, who had issued series of warnings to these perpetrators to desist from such inhuman act of extorting hard-earned money from the poor Cross Riverians,” the statement said.
He explained that the agency, whose scope of operations among others includes protecting the poor of the poor in the area of extorting money and protecting their businesses, is totally committed to ridding the state of such illegal operations, adding that it would not fail to prosecute offenders in line with tax exemption laws of the state.
Mr Isong called on all government agencies in charge of revenues to carry out their functions in accordance with the laid down best practices to give succour to citizens, assuring residents of the state that an enforcement team has been put in place and defaulters would face the wrath of the law.