Leadership of the Benue Internal Revenue Services (BIRS) has denied the existence of a tax racketeering syndicate within its ambits.
The board described as false, the purpoted claims of some illegal activities being spearheaded by the chairman of the board, Mr. Emmanuel Agema.
A group known as Benue Advocate for Good Governance, BAGG, in an open letter to the state governor, Reverend Father Hyacinth Iormem Alia, alleged that within the board, there was a tax racketeering syndicate being spearheaded by the acting chairman and some selected staff to defraud the state.
The letter, jointly signed by Tersoo Abagi and Inelagwu Adakole, was tagged, “the unwholesome illegal activities going on at the BIRS.”
The group claimed among other things, that, “we discovered with great dismay that touts are still collecting revenue on behalf of BIRS office with connivance of some BIRS staff. We also discovered that receipts are being reprinted and sold with the money going to private pockets. This is going on especially at Zaki Biam, Katsina-ala, Ugba and Vandeikya checkpoints.”
“This illegality is being perpetrated under the watchful eyes of the acting Chairman and some other key officials in your government who are bent on sabotaging your efforts towards building the Benue of our dreams.”
Reacting, the Acting Chairman of BIRS, Mr. Emmanuel Agema in a statement issued in Makurdi by his Media Assistant Jacintha Benard, debunked the claims..
Agema described the allegation as baseless and an attempt to discredit the hard work of staff of the service who face all hazards associated with task of revenue collection.
He further appealed to the state Governor, Rev. Fr. Alia and the Benue people to disregard the open letter as it was aimed at misleading the public while tarnishing the image of the hardworking team of the BIRS.
The statement read in part: “the state government inaugurated a task force on illegal mining, logging and road block to check these illegalities, the fight against these miscreants, who have identified revenue collection as their avenue of criminality, has been ongoing.
“Just recently, the acting chairman met with leaders of the Task Force to synergise on modalities to eradicate illegal roadblocks on our roads. It is therefore, abysmal that a group advocating for good governance would be this uninformed.
“The Chairman, has repeatedly reiterated his zero tolerance to operators of illegal checkpoint and vehemently frowns against issuance of fake receipts, extortion of the taxpayers, and particularly the collection of unreceipted monies at the various Inspection/Monitoring points. The Chairman, is focused and determined to use every lawful measures for tax collection and remittance owing to the fact that taxation is law.
“Recall also that, just after the Chairman’s appointment by the Governor, he inaugurated a Tasksforce Team made up of BIRS staff and security personnel who are saddled with the responsibility of monitoring revenue collections, ensuring compliance, halting tax evaders.
“So far, the Team has recorded some successes, they have made some arrests of illegal checkpoint operators in Vandeikya, Kastina-Ala, Otukpa, Howe, and North Bank areas. Some of the culprits have been arraigned and remanded. The team has also dismantled illegal checkpoints at Amaafu and Gungul.
“It is worthy of note that the Chairman was appointed on June 22, 2023 and resumed office on June 25. He is little over a month in office and so far, he is doing excellently well in the discharge of his duties in ensuring optimal revenue generation for the state to support the governor in achieving the crucial mandate of developing the state.”
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