The Rivers State government has sealed-off the headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Port Harcourt over alleged N1.8 billion tax evasion.
Leader of the state Internal Revenue Board’s enforcement team, Ndenbo Manson, said the commission failed to remit taxes to the state government for several years.
The Guardian learnt that the revenue agency had obtained a court order to carry out the exercise, which prevented NDDC’s workers and contractors from gaining access to its headquarters on the Port Harcourt-Aba expressway.
“We are here to collect about N1.8 billion and also ask the NDDC to release their documents because this is self assessment. Over the years, the commission refused to allow us access to their documents.
“We made frantic efforts in the past to collect revenue from the NDDC, but our effort had not yielded the desired results,” he said.
He explained that the revenue board had no other option than to approach the court for an order to seal-off the commission’s premises, which had been struggling to pay contractors and media organisations for advertisements.
Manson also accused the NDDC of withholding taxes due the state from 2014 to date, explaining that if NDDC had obeyed the court order, there would not have been any basis to seal-off its premises.
Reacting to the development, its Head, Corporate Affairs, Chijoke Amu-Nnadi, accused the revenue board of acting in bad faith because the commission had already commenced the process of paying the taxes it owed the state government.
“We understate there is a court order, but it is important for us to restate that the NDDC, as a responsible corporate citizen, had begun to dispense all obligations raised,” he said.
Amu-Nnadi said following conversations with the revenue board last week, the commission had made the first tranche of payment the parties agreed to and the process to dispense the total amount owed the state had already started.
“It is a bit surprising to see that we come to work to find that officials of the revenue board had sealed our premises,” he lamented.