Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) has vowed to arrest any traditional ruler and community members who allow illegal roadblocks to be mounted in their domain.
BIRS Chairman Terzungwe Atser, who handed down the warning while briefing newsmen in Makurdi on Monday, lamented what he described as the menace of illegal collections and roadblocks in the state.
Atser, who fingered some high profile politicians, traditional rulers and community leaders in the illegal taxation racket disclosed that four major betting companies have already left the state while the Nigerian Breweries as well as other companies are threatening to leave.
“These practices are affecting our state in various ways as they increase the taxes being paid by traders in Benue market and this has made some traders to withdraw from our markets,” he said.
“If this continues, many more companies are likely to withdraw their services and our farmers will suffer it. And from the information we have gathered, Benue is the only state where this illegal practice is going on and we are concerned. That is why we are restating our commitment to stop the trend.”
The BIRS boss, who further revealed that 76 persons have been arrested in connection with mounting of illegal roadblocks in the state, said 60 of the suspects were already facing prosecution while 16 others were still under investigation.
He also disclosed that the Service nets an average of N600 million monthly to the state government coffers as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Atser explained further that the Service is proposing a review of the existing tax laws to take care of identified gaps in the laws adding that the ultimate aim of BIRS is to generate enough revenue to take care of salary and overhead for the state government.
Asked who is supposed to collect revenue in the state, the BIRS boss said by the Benue revenue administration laws, only BIRS is allowed to collect revenue of government in the state.
He stressed that all monies must first go into the BIRS account before it would be transfered into the respective accounts, adding that any agency collecting revenue is doing so illegally.