Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has warned the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the Irrua Specialist Hospital, that he risks criminal prosecution and may face a jail term for violating the state tax laws.
Speaking while receiving the executive members of the state branch of the Nigerian Medical Association in his office, Oshiomhole said: "The Okada man pays tax, the market women pay tax, the Nigerian journalist pays tax, the motor mechanic is paying tax and the doctor is saying, if you ask him to pay tax and he will go on strike.
"You must not abuse your training and violate with impunity your oath of office. When I came here my predecessors were not paying tax. If we do not pay tax I cannot ask you to pay. I feel strongly about it."
The governor, who noted that tax evasion is a criminal offence warned that the state government would not yield ground until the hospital settles its tax liability.
Oshiomhole disclosed that government would soon commerce work on the Central Hospital in Benin City, which suffered a little setback in June when a section of the hospital collapsed, saying contractors would get back to site anytime soon.
He, however, chided the doctors for always going on strike whenever any of their members was kidnapped, saying: "Without security nothing else is important. If I can build roads, provide all the healthcare and the people feel unsafe then I have done nothing. Let the poor feel safe in their poverty.
To be poor and feel unsafe is to compound their problems. I hope you do appreciate that there are national challenges with regards to security. A new Commissioner of police has just been posted here and I am not consulted, even though I am supposed to be the chief security officer."
Earlier, Chairman of the Association, Dr. Emmanuel Ighodaro, said the governor had made tremendous inroad in breaking the cycle of poverty and ignorance in the state, saying: "You have evidence-based dividends of democracy while in other states we have media-based dividends of democracy."
He appealed to Oshiomhole to pay the balance of the 20% Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) and to also look into the alleged heavy tax paid by doctors in the state.