PORT HARCOURT/Nigeria: A non-governmental and advocacy Organization, Citizen Quests for Truth Initiative, has expressed shock over the sealing of the gate of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The group in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Francis Udoka Ndimkoha said, it appears there are undercurrents to ensure that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is incapacitated in the discharge of her statutory duties. If it is not the issue of threats from some segments of the youths, it is that of some stakeholders trying to hoodwink the populace into swallowing the bait that the Commission lacks good leadership. Just coming out from what seemed a furnace of trepidations, occasioned by threats of possible total breakdown of law and order in the region, the Commission is, yet again, encased in what observers may describe as a thorny tax issue with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).”
According to the National Secretary, “Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative was shocked to learn that Workers at the Headquarters of the Commission were today, locked out from gaining access into their offices as the FIRS sealed up the gates of the establishment allegedly over non-payment of arrears of tax.”
The statement reads: “It is common knowledge that before business premises are sealed by tax authorities, proper tax assessments are carried out after obtaining the financial records of the establishment. While no right thinking Nigerian would like to stand in the way of the FIRS in collecting what is the nation’s rightful taxes, it stands to reason that the Federal Inland Revenue Service, must operate in line with established procedure. The NDDC has neither been assessed nor given a demand notice to that effect.
“Accepted, without conceding, that there was an assessment, is it not shocking that the FIRS, by this action of sealing the Commission, is pretending not to know the challenges of the Commission for 20 years which led to the Forensic Audit as ordered by the President? The Forensic Auditors are expected to not only to identify the reasons for the poor performance of the Commission in 20 years, but to prepare a strategic framework and pathway for a more efficient running of the Commission.
“With the Audit winding up, expectedly at the end of July 2021, it smacks of total disregard for the President who is expectant of the report.
“The FIRS is also not unmindful of the Commission’s huge account domiciled in the EFCC by oil companies, due mainly to the unbridled corruption tales that trailed the NDDC before the present leadership came on board.
“Would it not have made more business sense and save the region this unwarranted hiccup, to wait for the outcome of the audit exercise and the recommendations therefrom? After all, the President has said the report will form part of the Terms of Reference for the new Board in chatting a way forward. Any action now, therefore, that will disrupt the activities of the Commission is not in the best interest of the Niger Delta people.
“We observe the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob in the actions of the FIRS.
“While we support the need for accountability, we also urge the FIRS to consider the backlash their action may have on the already fragile tension in the region.
“We advise the Management of the FIRS to approach the pending issues through other means that will avert unnecessary crisis and a downturn on the economy, should those seeking to frustrate the Audit and the appointment of a new Board decide to leverage on this avoidable face-off.”