The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) yesterday resumed its enforcement exercise with the shutting down of tax-defaulting companies in Lagos and Owerri, Imo State. In Lagos where two FIRS enforcement teams worked in the Apapa area, the premises of Capital Oil Plc at 28, Creek Road, was shut, and staff of the company were ordered out of the complex by a team led by Anita Erinne. The company is said to be owing N30 million. However, that was not possible because banking hours had elapsed, leaving the FIRS team with no option than to shut its gates.
Also in Apapa, the FIRS visited the offices of Folawiyo Energy Trading Company along Creek Road, but the company, which the FIRS reckons was owing N450 million in company tax for 2013 to 2015, maintained that it is only owing for last year. The FIRS team did not seal the company but advised its management to clear the matter with the FIRS office in Ikoyi.
The FIRS enforcement unit equally visited the offices of Makon Engineering and Technical Services Limited located on 11 Babatunde Anjos Street, Lekki Phase 1. However, the enforcement team, which was prepared to lock up the company met company’s Chief Financial Officer, Lanre Anafi, who agreed to the immediate commencement of the payment process of its N26 million tax debt.
The enforcement team led by Emeka Obiagwu, FIRS Director of Enforcement, departed the premises after reaching a firm understanding with the company that the debt would be defrayed before the close of work on Monday.
In Owerri, capital of Imo State, the FIRS enforcement team sealed the premises of two fast food outlets and an hotel. According to the enforcement team, the three outfits were shut after concerted efforts by the FIRS failed to get them to defray their tax liabilities. The affected outfits are City Chef Restaurant, De Mange Eatery House and Comet Hotels and Conference Hall.
Speaking to newsmen after the exercise, FIRS enforcement team leader, Mr. Chinazo Udeh, explained that due processes was followed before the businesses were sealed.
“We assessed and gave them notice of what they owe as tax. They did not respond to our communication. This was followed up with two separate reminders. Thereafter, a demand notice was sent to them with all these largely ignored. After the expiration of the one month window following the final notice, we were left with no option but to enforce the law.”
De Mange eatery has a tax liability of N20 million while City Chef and Comet Hotel and Conference Hall owe N2.1 million and N2.3 million respectively.
At the point of sealing Comet Hotel and Conference Hall, the company’s lawyer rushed to the bank and paid N70,000. But that, according to the enforcement team, was inadequate to unseal the hotel.
“They just decided to pay N70,000 out of a tax liability of N2.3 million. That does not show seriousness. As a matter of fact, the money they just paid is a penalty for an earlier contravention for late registration. They have paid nothing on the Value Added Tax obligations. In any case, the order to seal this place came from our head office; the order to unseal will also come from there,” said Udeh.
The team also moved to Disney Hotels and Oasis Communications to serve reminders.