From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), on Wednesday, sealed the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (FUAM) over unremitted Personal Income Tax (PIT) to the tune of over N2.3 billion.
This was even as the institution’s chapter of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has described the move as fraudulent and an attempt to commence another round of illegal deductions on the salaries of its members and instigate crisis in the university.
BIRS Chairman, Mrs. Mimi Adzape-Orubibi, who led an enforcement team to the University, personally sealed off the Vice Chancellor’s office and the office of the Registrar as well as the Bursar’s office.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the exercise, Mrs. Adzape-Orubibi said the BIRS had to take that step after the institution failed to honour several letters written to it to pay up the outstanding Personal Income Tax from 2007 to 2011.
She explained that the BIRS got an interim order to distrain FUAM because it failed to deduct PAYE tax in some cases or deducted less in other cases adding that the institution would now have to pay almost N3 billion inclusive of penalties and interest.
While noting that the state government under the leadership of Governor Samuel Ortom is very concerned about education, she however posited that the decision to picket the institution became necessary owing to the continued evasion of tax by the school authority.
But in a swift reaction, acting Chairman of ASUU, Comrade Bemgba Anjembe who insisted that PAYE was deducted monthly from staff salary suspected a connivance between BIRS and the university authority to remit taxes already deducted from staff, this denying them to get tax clearance.
“On August 27, 2014 BIRS wrote a letter to the VC in which it informed that the university is owing BIRS tax liability due to the failure to deduct PAYE tax to the tune of over N2billion. That is their claim but we don’t agree to that figure. How did BIRS arrive at that value? The University is not a business outfit but a social service. This is fraud.”
Meanwhile, students of FUAM besieged the BIRS office located on Gboko Road, Makurdi yesterday to protest the closure of their institution and after dialogue with the BIRS Chairman, it was agreed that the seal would be removed as a result of their negotiation.
When contacted, the University’s management which spoke through its Public Relations Officer (PRO), Dr. Joseph Fanafa said it was maintaining a dignified silence on the matter until the outcome of a meeting with BIRS scheduled for tomorrow (Friday).