From: Ali Abare, Gombe
For daring to challenge a directive from Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo for payment of filing of fees, fines and penalties in Gombe State judiciary into a particular bank account, the state internal revenue board has fined one Abdullahi .M. Inuwa, a Gombe-based legal practitioner N3.9 million.
The lawyer is to pay the sum within seven days.
Inuwa disclosed this Tuesday when he led other lawyers from his chamber, A.M. Inuwa & Co to a parley with journalists in Gombe.
According to the legal practitioner, the state internal revenue board is asking him to pay the sum as unremitted tax for the period ranging from 2011-2016.
He, however, said this came shortly after he took the state government to court challenging its directive for a centralized payment system in the state judiciary.
The lawyer presented before journalists documents detailing the case he filed at the Gombe High Court with suit no. GM/44/17, which has Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, Gombe State Board of Internal Revenue Service and Attorney General of Gombe State as 1st, 2nd, 3rd defendants respectively.
In a writ of summons filed at the Gombe High Court on February 17, 2017, the plaintiff, sought to know whether executive directives by the first respondent, which required all payments of fees, fines, and other costs or payments for probate be made at bank accounts opened by the respondents, offend the provision of section 274, 279 of the 1999 of the constitution of Nigeria, sections 116 (1) of the High Court laws, section 24(a) (i)(ii) and (iii) of Sharia Court of Appeal law, section 89 of District Court law and section 64 of the Area Court law, among others.
He therefore prayed for the court to declare as unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void, directives by the first defendant for payment of fees into particular bank accounts.
“We seek an order of this Hon. Court directing that all payments of filling fees, fines, penalties, e.t.c should be made in court registry (the way it used to be before the 1st defendant’s directive) or as appropriate rules may be made by the Chief Judge and Grand Khadi of Gombe State”, the legal practitioner pleaded.
But in a swift reaction, the Gombe State internal revenue board, in two separate letters dated March 15, 2017, first notified A.M. Inuwa & Co of its intention to carry out “Tax Audit of PAYE, Withholding taxes, Levies and Fees due to Gombe State government from your firm/chambers” for the period running from 2011 to 2016.
In the said letter signed by Abubakar M. Sadiq, Head, Personal Income Tax, the Gombe revenue board said the exercise is pursuant of the statutory provision of section 47 (4), (5) and section 55 of Personal Income Tax (amendment) Act of 2011.
The board warned that in the event of any obstruction to this exercise, submission of incorrect or false information/report, “the management of your firm/chambers would be held liable and penalized in accordance with the statutory provisions of section 96 and 97 of the PIT Act 2011 as amended.”
In the second letter, the Gombe revenue board accused A.M. Inuwa & Co for non-compliance in filing of returns “in line with provisions of S.41 (1) of the Personal Income Tax Act 2011 as amended.
“In view of the above, we are hereby demanding the payment of N3,993, 000 to Gombe atate IGR collection account in any of the designated banks within seven days of receipt of this notice as penalty for non-compliance” the letter directed.