This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Delta Moves to Recover N29 Billion Debt

Asaba — Delta State government said it has concluded plans to recover N29 billion owed the state from tax evasion and other financial levies.

It also said plans have been concluded to engage the services of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the recovery of the money as the 135 private companies that are involved have been given two weeks' ultimatum; within which to pay or face the law.

The State Internal Revenue Board chairman, Hon. Joel Onowakpo, who disclosed this in Asaba indicted some banks which failed to remit to government coffer, after collecting taxes on behalf of the board. However, he said a team of investigators have been put in place to investigate the scam.

According to him, a lot of companies in the state avoided paying taxes, adding that the board was not going to tolerate the situation, adding that some of the defaulters went ahead to obtain court injunction restraining the board from taking action against them.

He stated that the board had equally taken steps to curtail the slippery means of the defaulters, stressing that "the law allows us to take criminal charges against the companies".

Meanwhile, the board has issued 4,875 demand notices on ground rent to property developers in the state. The notices, Hon. Onowakpo stated, amounted to excess of N2million accruable to the state government.

The law on ground rent, which has been in the cooler in the state since the promulgation of the Land Use Decree in 1978, makes all property owners as tenants to government. The Chairman said the full weight of the law must be applied to defaulters.

Earlier, the State Commissioner for Lands, Surveys and Urban Development, Sir Patrick Ferife, who was at the briefing to shed more light on the ground rent, said it amounted to a criminal act should property owners fail to pay the rent-to government.

"If in 3 months the holder of Certificate of Occupying (C of O) defaults in payment of such rent, the certificate could be revoked or government re-enter the land," Ferife said

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