2 Abia commissioners suspended over extortion, illegal taxes

Posted by News Express | 26 March 2014 | 3,488 times

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Two commissioners in Abia State, South-East Nigeria, have been suspended indefinitely for allegedly flouting the state government’s directive against double taxation and extortion of money from people of the state.

The affected commissioners are Chief Chisom Nwamuo, Commerce and Industry, and Mr. Ikechukwu Emesiombum, Transport. Their suspension by Governor Theodore Orji was made public via a statement issued in the state capital, Umuahia, by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Eze Chikamnayo.

He explained that Governor Orji frowns at double taxation, extortion and harassment of innocent citizens in the name of collection of illegal revenue, disclosing that “the state government is currently harmonising taxes payable in the state” and will soon come out with its position.

Chikamnayo said that for now, only the state Board of Internal Revenue is allowed to collect revenue for the state.

The governor was said to have taken the decision following reports by concerned stakeholders that the commissioners were imposing authorised taxes and charges on traders and other people in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the state.

Sources said the two commissioners were shocked when their suspension was announced on the radio.

It will recalled that aggrieved Aba market women took to the streets of Aba last week to protest against what they described as heavy imposition of taxes on them by some government officials.

The protest was coming 85 years after the historic “Aba women riot of 1929” in which women in the city protested against the imposition of taxes on them by the British colonial masters.

It was gathered that at about 3:20pm on Friday, about 500 market women gathered at one of the markets in Aba from where they demonstrated peacefully around some major streets.

The women, who carried placards with some unprintable inscriptions, were heading towards the studios of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) located in the Ogbor hill area of the city before they were accosted and dispersed by armed security personnel.

The women regrouped shortly and headed towards the Aba South Local Government headquarters, near the main motor park where they were later addressed by one Nwagbara.

Nwagbara pleaded with the protesting market women not to take the laws into their hands as their grievances would be looked into by appropriate authorities.

Last week, Governor Orji directed the suspension of all unapproved revenue collections until the on-going harmonisation of taxes payable in the state was completed.

•Story pieced together from reports in Vanguard and national Mirror. Photo shows Governor T.A. Orji.

Source: News Express

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