Nigeria: Blackout Looms in Benue As Govt Seals Jos Disco Over Unpaid Taxes

The Benue State Government through its Internal Revenue Service, BIRS, has sealed up the offices of the Jos Electricity Distribution Company, JED, in the state and a cement manufacturing company over N634.1million unpaid accumulated taxes.

Leading the enforcement team, yesterday to shut the organisations, the Executive Chairman of BIRS, Mrs. Mimi Adzape-Orubibi, explained that the action was in compliance with the provisions of the Personal Income Tax Act of 2011.

According to her, “enforcements become necessary when you have followed all due processes and the tax is not being paid. An audit was carried out on the cement company (name withheld) that letter was dated January 9, 2021 and it was N474million. Since then we have been on the issue. We did reconciliations and virtual reconciliations and we came down to the final amount of N218million.

“The Personal Income Tax Act, section 58 clearly states that if you are given an assessment, and the amount is stated in the assessment, you are at liberty to object within 30 days if you are not okay with the assessment, failing that assessment becomes final and conclusive. The cement company did not object to the assessment. We followed suit with 14 days notice and we also did another seven days notice and at that point nothing was done.

“We even went outside the statutory period of 30 days, calling them, and they visited the office when I resumed office in November. The court order which we are enforcing today was issued April 13, 2022. We did not come immediately to seal them because we wanted to exhaust all means of diplomacy which all failed. After that time I made calls to their Lagos office and it yielded nothing so we decided to carry out the enforcement.

“We had approached the High Court with all the documents and our correspondences. They paid over N16million out of N218million. We acknowledged and told them that they have a balance of N201million to clear up. It is not as if they are not aware, they know that a day like this will come.

“But when we work we do it with human face, that is why when I got to the office, I told them that they have an option of paying in three tranches which they will specify on their own and we will take the commitment to the court in case they default.

“I spent three hours in their office but as we speak nothing has been done and we have no choice but to seal them and place the court order side by side with the seal. They can approach the court or transfer the money into the Benue State Consolidated Revenue Account. I will then confirm and unseal the premises.”

On JED, which had its offices in Makurdi and Gboko sealed by BIRS, Mrs. Adzape-Orubibi explained that “they were in default to the tune of over N433.1million and after several discussions and notifications as well as being served the mandatory notices to pay up, they failed to do so necessitating a court restrain warrant obtained in April which we enforced by sealing the company.”

Reacting to the development, the JED Director of Corporate Services, Dr. Adakole Elijah appealed to the management of BIRS to reconsider the action saying, “they did not seal our injector sub-stations but our operations start from our administrative offices. Our energy management is in those admin offices.

“So, if we are not able to access the offices, we will not be able to manage and keep tab of our supply. The implication is general blackout in the state. That is why I am saying we should adopt diplomacy and dialogue to resolve the issues.”

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