From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Chairman of the Cross River State Anti Tax Agency, Bishop Emmah Gospel Isong, has disclosed that about 40 persons have been arrested for engaging in collection of illegal taxation and other tolls and are awaiting prosecution by the government.
In addition to this about 40 persons have been arrested and are awaiting prosecution by the state government.
Bishop Isong, who made this disclosure during the one year anniversary/stakeholders workshop organised by the agency in Calabar, said they have confronted thousands of illegal tax activities in the state.
He said the agency has made modest achievements in it’s one year of existence and has succeeded in creating awareness about the pandemic of illegal taxes in the state.
“We have confronted thousands of illegal tax activities across the state. With very swift operations with joint security forces
“we have made not less than fourty arrests. Because the judiciary is in strike they suspects are pending arraignment.
We hope this will serve as a strong deterrent to those who are still perpetuating this Shylock, oppressive and anti-Ayade activity”, he said.
He listed about 10 other achievements of the agency within the past twelve months which includes encouraging small and medium scale businesses by taking the tax burden off them, creating the Anti-Tax Brigade and appointing volunteer Marshalls to undertake enforcement in conjunction with other security agencies.
Others are working with the state judiciary to set up special courts to try offenders as well as retaining legal experts to institute civil actions against defaulting tax consultants.
The chairman explained that the Agency, whose scope of operations among others include protecting the poor of the poor in the area of extorting money and protecting their businesses, is totally committed to ridding the state of such illegalities and would not fail to prosecute offenders in line with Tax exemption laws of the state.
He, therefore, called on all government agencies in charge of revenues to respect the Anti Tax laws of the state by protecting the citizens just as he assured Cross Riverians that defaulters would face the wrath of the law.
He added that the Tax Brigade and Enforcement Team have commenced patrol of major streets within the metropolis.
Also speaking, secretary of the Agency, Rev. fr. Julius Ada, said the philosophy behind the creation of the agency is to build a better future for the people of the state.
He said the agency is working on strategic plans that will help fuel the state’s economy and their target is to achieve zero taxation in food production by the end of the year.
On his part, Williams Anwan, the legal Adviser of the Agency, said 3 magistrates have been assigned to the agency by the state government.
He said illegal taxation is an economic crime but the agency will go for non-custodial sentencing where some of the convicts will also be deployed to farms where they will work with the same energy they used to collect illegal taxes.