Investigation: Deception, Tales Of Lies Mar Implementation Of Cross River Tax Exemption Law

Agents of the Cross River State Internal Revenue Service (CRIRS) have continued to illegally accumulate taxes from petty merchants and low-income earners in whole contravention to the supply of the State’s Anti-Tax Agency.

Petty merchants and low revenue earners exempted from taxes paid by the State Government are day by day being coerced and humiliated by brokers of the State Internal Revenue Service of their unlawful operations.

Investigation: Deception, Tales Of Lies Mar Implementation Of Cross River Tax Exemption Law 2

An investigation by CrossRiverWatch, revealed that brokers of CRIRS have been illegally amassing taxes and harassing tricycle (Keke Napep) operators, mechanics, petty merchants, artisans, hairdressers, shoe makers, and so forth. And generally confiscate items from these folks after they refuse at hand out what the forceful tax collectors demand.

This medium documented items of proof of tax funds by these teams of individuals to officers of CRIRS, who at many events function in a gang like method.

Few months after assuming workplace, Governor Benedict Ayade had on August 19, 2015, declared that his Government won’t impose taxes on what he referred to as “the poor”, who battle day by day to outlive. “Let our desperation for taxation not allow us to heap the burden on the poor. This must stop. Definitely, God has a purpose of bringing me here as a Governor and I must not disappoint my creator.” The State Governor, Sen. Ben Ayade stated.

This was reiterated by the Governor in 2017 when he stated, “I will rather tax my intellect to prosperity rather than taxing my people because we have sufficient education, exposure and experience which we need to bring to bear for the prosperity of our people, which is why they elected us.”

To that impact, Ayade’s administration initiated an govt invoice abolishing all types of taxation for low-income earners within the State, culminating into the institution and subsequent inauguration of Cross River State Anti-Tax Agency in May 2020. The Agency is to amongst different issues be certain that industrial taxi drivers, petty merchants, tricycle (Keke Napep) riders, hair salon, civil servants incomes under fifty thousand (N50,000) Naira don’t pay taxes.

Tax Agency Betrayed Trust As Affected Tax Payers Lament Ordeals

When the Agency was inaugurated beneath a famend Bishop, Emmah Isong of Christian Central Chapel International, Cross Rivarians heaved a sigh of reduction, believing that the cleric will religiously finish the unlawful extortion and actualize the dream of the Governor.

However, When CrossRiverWatch visited the 2 populous markets within the State capital (Watt and Ika Ika Oqua), strategic junctions and roundabouts in addition to taxi drivers’ parks, workers of CRIRS had been seen amassing taxes and issuing tickets to Governor Ayade’s “poor”.

In these areas, the supposedly exempted taxpayers informed CrossRiverWatch of the constant harassment and numerous face-offs with the tax collectors who are available massive numbers and generally with Police cowl.

These classes of individuals when approached, refused to talk to this reporters on video nor audio for worry of been victimized or their enterprise close-down by these taskmasters who might even see it as exposing them. This reporters went undercover to get the information, protecting their names and companies nameless.

At Marian market positioned on the hub of the town, petty merchants share their encounters. A Shoe Maker stated: “I have been paying for a ticket every day, there is nowhere and nobody in this market that is exempted from paying tax. I do not know how the people are bigger than the Governor’s order; honestly, I don’t know.

Investigation: Deception, Tales Of Lies Mar Implementation Of Cross River Tax Exemption Law 3

“I heard that the Government has constituted Anti-Tax force headed by Bishop Emmah Isong but they cannot stop it,” saying that, they’re paying dues to some key folks whom he described as “enforcers”.

“Do you understand that people who keep their things on the verge of the roadside for sell, pay over a thousand (N1,000) Naira for a ticket every day. If you don’t want to pay as they want, be ready to fight because 90% of the ticket agents are gangsters (cultists),” he added.

A house utensil vendor stated fee of tax is a day by day routine to him, although he doesn’t have a proper store.  “Even this edge of the gutter where I keep my things, I am paying 50 Naira ticket every day.” He went on to disclose that, “Everybody selling on the roadside is paying 200 Naira, or over 1,000 Naira a week. We used to have a union but these ticket agents have spoiled it, so in this Marian market there is no union.”

A center age watermelon vendor who was fuming on the time this reporter approached her claimed that, she spends greater than 1,200 Naira for a ticket. “They used to come and harass us here. They used to fight our colleagues, it happened recently; they fought and stabbed themselves. Sometimes, they used to come in a group of 4 or 5 persons,” she stated, trying round to verify nobody was watching her on the time she was talking with CrossRiverWatch.

Fairly used garments (Okrika) vendor, in a loud voice, screamed, questioning Governor Ayade’s “political talk” including that, making pronouncement with out motion is simply self present.

He stated: “Who told you people that we have not been paying for ticket to sell in this market, had you come earlier than now you would have seen the ticketing agents who are just leaving my shop not quite long ago (gesticulating). The Governor has announced the exemption which we are hearing on the radio and newspaper without follow-up with due action; it’s just a political talk, action is different from talking. If there was a good action, they wouldn’t have been coming around but there is no action attached.

“Outside of this market some people are paying over 100 Naira, some people pay about 500 Naira for ticket to sell in this market. The ticketing agents come in group and they are more than 6 sets of persons, especially on a Saturday,” he stated.

Investigation: Deception, Tales Of Lies Mar Implementation Of Cross River Tax Exemption Law 4

A groundnut vendor on the ever-busy Watt market revealed that, they had been nonetheless shopping for ticket, alleging that some native politicians are benefiting from the deal. “We are paying for ticket, and why we are still paying for this revenue is because House Members and Councilors of different Wards are getting a share of this revenue.

“After the Governor’s pronouncement, the politician met with those ticket boys, people like Hon. Essien Ayi and the Councilor of this Ward have revenue points in this Watt market, so, why would the traders do not pay for ticket? The tax exemption was only enforced a week after the Governor’s pronouncement but immediately after that week, the boys have always been coming to harass us for ticket.”

Furthermore, the indignant groundnut vendor revealed: “When we asked them why they have been coming to collect tax from us, they said the Governor didn’t discuss something like that with them. And if they come for the ticket and you refuse to pay, they would torture you. If you go to the Police for their arrest, those boys would stand there and call their oga  (boss) to come for their rescue and their oga (boss) would call the Police to release them and they will be released, almost immediately. They collect even from pure water sellers, if they refuse to pay, their goods would be seized from them.

Another petty trader who for fear of victimization didn’t want to be mentioned in print that sells cosmetics on wheelbarrow described his daily struggle with the tax collectors as a war-like situation. “They usually come with different strategies, and if you are a newcomer in the market, they would keep on coming to seize your goods until you get tired and close down the business or comply. So, my brother, what we are facing in this market is more than a war against this people.”

Meat-pie vendor expressed dismay that the Anti-Tax Agency that was supposed to come back to their assist was no had been to be discovered.

A 5- yr outdated boy hawking sachet water in a helpless tone stated: “We are paying 50 Naira for ticket everyday, sometimes we pay for three tickets a day, you must pay if not they would seize your sachet water and the rubber.”

Water-leaf vendor alleged that the Governor made the pronouncement and gave the contract to his staff: “We have been paying for ticket every blessed day, otherwise, they won’t allow you to sell in this market.”

In a dialog with a industrial minibus driver (white coloration) which was recorded secretly, he alleged that the Governor is conscious of the illegality happening within the metropolis. His phrases: “The Governor who set a panel to check and arrest those who are asking for tickets is the same Governor when those people were arrested spoke with the Commissioner of Police to release them. All the tears he was shedding on television were stage-managed act; that is the kind of country we are living in.

Investigation: Deception, Tales Of Lies Mar Implementation Of Cross River Tax Exemption Law 5

“I had a problem with those boys because of tickets up to the point I even went to the Local Government (Calabar Municipality) and met with the Chairman. Unfortunately, the Chairman told me that the tax collectors are working to meet the targets given.

“The Chairman told me the Governor Ayade is aware of it. The price of tickets has gone up; five hundred and fifty (N550) Naira every day and they have different units. For Calabar Transport Regulatory Agency (popularly known as 100 Marian) is yearly and it is more than twenty thousand Naira while the Local Government own is every day. If you look at the back of this vehicle (stickers of tickets) then you will know how much I have contributed to the well-being of this State,” he disclosed, as he stored gazing at his automotive steering.

The anti-tax regulation has additionally exempted inns with few rooms. However, as is the case with merchants and entrepreneurs within the two fashionable markets, the hoteliers had been made to pay the tax, regardless of the regulation and directives in opposition to it.

A key workers in one of many inns in Calabar South Local Government Area of the State exclaimed in pidgin English: “Ehh … You say wetin? We no dey do wetin? If we show you our tax file you go fear. Which Governor said what? There are different tax we are paying for each year and they are still coming; the Governor said nonsense on TV and radio, you can ask another person if you think I’m telling lies. State Government will come, Local Government and others will come.

“Health will come, Environment will come even the dustbin we have here we are paying close to twenty thousand Naira. Many of them will come saying they are from this and that Agency and you pay heavily. Mr. Ayade was showing himself,” he added.

Another administration workers in one of many populous resort in Calabar Municipality Local Government gave an inventory of issues like tv, fan and others they pay tax for, saying it’s an excessive amount of. “If it is tax, we are paying heavily. Not one, not two, State will come, Local Government will also come. They tell us to pay television, fan and air conditioner tax. Any amount of them you have in each room, they will calculate and tell you to pay.

“They put forty-five thousand Naira price for just five televisions including this reception own. They go as far as telling you to pay for street numbering. The tax is just too much.”

Also, a resort located round Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar Municipality, nonetheless, differed from others saying they take directions from their union earlier than they pay any tax. “It is not all the tax we pay. Most of the Local Government tax we do not pay, except only the ones from the State Government and Federal Inland Revenue. We are paying Health to Tourism Bureau, we pay for hotels license, 10,000 Naira a year, we pay for the fire extinguisher, we pay for the environment, we pay for the first-aid box still to the Tourism Bureau, we pay for health certificate for staff, this to ascertain that your staff is medically fit to serve the public.

“We pay for the waste bin, 10,000 Naira per year, we pay for business rate and business premises to the Local Government and we also pay 10,000 Naira for liquor license. These are the taxes we pay per year, any other taxes we do not pay except the hotels’ union authorizes us to pay, otherwise, send your tax to the union for approval. The union has to inform us about the tax we must pay.”

Cross River Anti Tax Law – A Populists Policy

Mr. Richard Friday Inoyo, the Chief Executive Officer of Carthinium Consult, a consulting agency specializing in tax and different enterprise evaluation, described the tax exemption regulation as “populist policy” positing that each one residents must pay tax within the State trying on the poorly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in addition to the low allocation the State receives from the Federal Government.

Investigation: Deception, Tales Of Lies Mar Implementation Of Cross River Tax Exemption Law 6

“So, in a State where the IGR is very low and the Government suspends paying tax, it means the Government is going to have a very weak returns in terms of revenue, so it is not really a good thing if you ask me and that means the Government may not be able to pull off some of its projects,” he asserted carrying a severe look.

Tax Agents Harass People

It could also be recalled that on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, Task Force Team suspected to have rooted from Calabar Municipal Council stripped a industrial taxi driver recognized as Chucks Solomon, bare and his automobile broken in Calabar, the primary Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria.

Passersby and commuters had been left in awe on the Council’s entrance, when a crew of males in black and blue outfits harassed the taxi driver who was stated to have refused to supply them 50 Naira solely when apprehended on the level.

In a video that surfaced on-line, the industrial driver is seen crushed up and his automotive burner disfigured in addition to his automotive battery eliminated with the boys who quantity not lower than six rounding him up.

The Chairman of Calabar Municipality, Mr. Effefiong Eke, hastened foot to disassociate the Council from stated unlawful actions of the Task Force, saying their operation is unlawful and they aren’t working beneath the authorization of the Council.

When the ordeal unfold like wildfire on the media, the Chairman rapidly referred to as the sufferer for a spherical desk dialogue which he later gave a token of 5 hundred and fifty thousand (N550,000) Naira solely to get a reasonably used Honda Accord (EOD 2006 mannequin) automotive to quench the uproar and killing any intention of instituting authorized actions.

Inside Source In Anti-Tax Agency Speaks, Accuses Greedy Politicians

Meanwhile, an inside supply within the Cross River State Anti-Tax Agency, who spoke on situation of  anonymity blamed some disgruntled and grasping politicians who nonetheless make use of these uncivilized fellows.

“The Government had exempted some categories of persons from paying tax but, we still have some disgruntled politicians who still send their boys to the roads to destroy and molest people and collect money on the roads and markets,” the within supply informed CrossRiverWatch.

In September 2020, some alleged impostors had been arrested by the Anti-Tax Agency however there was no information about their prosecution.

Not Everybody Is Exempted From Tax – Authorities

When approached concerning the findings by CrossRiverWatch, the State’s Auditor General who doubles because the Acting Chairman of Internal Revenue Service (CRIRS), Mr. John Odey, confirmed that “People earning about hundred thousand and below are exempted from tax. Obviously, those people selling water-leaf, vegetables and those table markets are exempted. For you to be exempted there are certain parameters that you will be exempted.”

“Mechanics are exempted because it is assumed that those mechanics are dealing on small cars and all that but, there are ultra-modern mechanic shops where you see them have diagnostic equipment they use to dictate faults. Those equipment, one is over 3-5 million; they have so much equipment.

Investigation: Deception, Tales Of Lies Mar Implementation Of Cross River Tax Exemption Law 7

“When the Governor mentioned that those people in the market who are petty traders are exempted, it is not everybody because there are people who are in the market who own warehouses worth millions of Naira outside the market,” he said.

When this medium approached the workplace of Cross River State Anti-Tax Agency, a tall-light pores and skin coloration younger man inventory his face from the gate and requested “who is there” having knocked on the gate for minutes.

Neither the Agency’s Chairman nor any key workers was discovered on a seat on the time of the go to. When this reporter requested the safety guard on learn how to get the Chairman, they later requested the previous to jot down a letter and submit it. A letter to that impact was submitted to the identical workplace on Wednesday 2nd of June 2021 suggesting Friday 4 June 2021 by 10: 00am as date time and venue for an interview however was by no means responded to this point.

On the opposite hand, the State Chairman, Unified Commission Drivers Association of Cross River State, Mr. Thomas Ekeng, after sequence of postponement lastly accepted to talk on the telephone. His phrases: “When you talk about tax, it has its own enclaves when you understand the nature of tax.

“Ticketing is reduced to sectional thing because every section has its own peculiar name; it’s not a Government thing per say but if you look at the Government aspect I don’t think we are having any issues from that axis.

“When I say a sectional thing, like our welfare you can’t classify our welfare into ticket because welfare is for membership. Every section has what they collect at the little base where they know and I don’t see that as a big issue; it’s not a Government thing per say except there is some other thing I don’t know.” He skillfully obviated questions of his members being taxed.

This Story was Produced in Partnership with Civic Media Lab Under its Grassroots News Project with Support from the National Endowment for Democracy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Investigation: Deception, Tales Of Lies Mar Implementation Of Cross River Tax Exemption Law

Send this to a friend