Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Chairman of the Cross-River State Anti-Tax Agency, Bishop Emmah Isong, says prominent politicians in the state are behind increase in illegal tolls and taxes across the state.
Bishop Isong, who disclosed this in Calabar after the agency commenced a state-wide arrest and prosecution of all those collecting illegal tolls, taxes, levies, said the rate of illegal taxation surges after elections, particularly local government elections.He, however, vowed that the agency is committed to ending the menace of illegal taxation in view of its negative impact on the people and to unmask the masquerades behind this.
Bishop Isong, who doubles as the National Publicity Secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and the General Overseer of the Christian Central Chapel International, Ikot Enebong, lamented the damage done to the states economy by this menace.
He said: “The touts you see on the streets oppressing and punishing cross riverans are not alone. They are sent to those revenue points by people that help politicians including local government chairmen to win elections.
“They are placed there as rewards for electoral victories and that is why activities of illegal tax collectors surges immediately after local government elections. So the narrative is very true that the people you arrest on the streets are chip off the old block.
“Therefore, what the Anti Tax Agency is going to do is to hold onto the little lion until the mother lion comes out. So, we are fo8mg to unmask the masquerades behind illegal taxation with hope with these activities they should repent.
“There is no way government will deal with illegal taxes without also dealing with cultism because many of the boys are sent by their masters as a form of compensation and we say no to this”, he stated.
Accorsing to him, the governor is particularly concerned with the challenges the low income earners are made to go through and the agency is a melting point between his personal commitment/prayers for the welfare of people and that of the governor of the state.
He added that over seven thousand businesses have been relocated out of the state as a result of illegal taxes, insisting that the aim of the agency is to have these businesses and factories return to the state.
Mairoaning that the agemxy serves as a catalyst for the economic revival of Cross River, the Chairman said the long-term plan of the agency is to resettle and place some of the legal tax collectors in farms and state-owned plantations which is being envisaged by the agency so that do not return to the deed.