As controversy continues to trail the new tax regime imposed on business outfits in the Ekiti State, Igbo traders in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital yesterday staged peaceful protests against what they described as “outrageous taxes” imposed on them by the state government.
Shops belonging to the Igbo traders, along the state secretariat road and a branch of Zenith Bank, NNPC retail petrol station were shut down by officials of the Board of Internal Revenue, BIR, in an operation that commenced at about 9.00 am.
The traders marched from their shops to the BIR headquarters opposite Old Governor’s Office, forcing the frightened civil servants working at BIR to shut their doors against the protesters and didn’t open until 4.00 pm closing time.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Revenue, Ropo Ogunjobi, was not available to address the protesting Igbo traders.
Explaining the reason for their protest, the traders claimed they entered into agreement with BIR for a tax rate of N5,500 only for officials of the tax agency to storm their business offices yesterday morning claiming that the agreed tax no longer subsists.
Chairman of Secretariat Road Traders Association, Uchenna Madunagu, told Vanguard that the BIR imposed taxes ranged between N75,000 and N180,000, which they described as outrageous.
Madunagu said the traders were forced out of their shops by stern-looking armed policemen, and civil defence officers clutching chains and padlocks with which their shops were sealed.
The traders’ boss claimed that most of the traders still had cash, passbooks, cheques and keys to their homes inside their shops.
Secretary of the association, Chizom Unegbu, urged Fayose to reduce the taxes imposed on the traders saying there should be no selective application of taxes in the state.
Unegbu expressed disappointment that Ogunjobi was not in office to attend to them declaring their readiness to continue their protests until government accedes to their demands.
Ogunjobi, while reacting to the development said the question of the traders paying N5,500 never emanated from his office.
He said: “Those traders were economical with the truth. The N5,500 they are talking about is not from this office because what we are talking about now is the Personal Income Tax.
“We have assessed them, they should go and collect the assessment notice and go to the bank and pay their taxes.” (Vanguard)