Tax collection agencies have been urged to desist from utilizing violent methods in effecting compliance to the law.
The Chairman of the Cross River State Anti-Tax Agency, Bishop Emmah Isong made the call at a ceremony organized to mark the second anniversary of the organization in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, southern Nigeria.
Bishop Isong, who is the Publicity Secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and founder of the Christian Central Chapel International, decried the level of violence deployed by touts contracted by certain government establishment to enforce compliance with existing tax laws.
Isong, who is also the patron of the Nigeria Union of Journalists,( NUJ) Zone F, condemned the method of tax collection and vowed to continue the implementation of the governor, Professor Ben Ayade’s exemption law for low income earners.
He stated, “we have achieved a lot in 2 years. This is the first of its kind agency in Africa because it was one of the post COVID-19 measures set up by the governor to ameliorate the effect of the lockdown on micro and small businesses in Cross River State. We have intervened in hundreds of cases involving petty traders and small business owners, who have been oppressed and over charged by greedy tax agencies.
We have reduced the rates of incidences in multiple and illegal taxation in the state by 40 percent. We have an Anti-Tax Brigade, which we use to enforce the tax exemption law and in some instances apprehend offenders that are handed over to the police for prosecution. We have our secretariat and operational vehicles as well as liaise effectively with other agencies to achieve our mandate,” said Isong.
The Anti-Tax Agency chairman suggested that there was need for the young people engaged as touts and used in perpetuating illegal taxation to be redirected, reoriented and rehabilitated to embrace agriculture and given other employment opportunities.
On the next phase for the agency, the chairman urged the state government to provide more funding and expand its legal framework to enhance service delivery.
“We want to see the state government give us more opportunities, more funding and more attention. We want to see the cooperation of other government agencies not in conflict with our mandate, but cooperating with us. We urge our sister agencies across the state to kindly crosscheck with our establishment before imposing taxes, levies and rates on those on the exemption list,” he appealed.
Also speaking, the agency’s legal Adviser and former state chairman of the Cross River State branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. William Anwan told journalists that a proposal for an amendment to the existing law establishing the organization was already before the State House of Assembly.
In separate goodwill messages, the Commissioner for Commerce, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong and State Manager of the Bank of Industry, Mr. Pius Neji commended the agency for its commitment to duty, which they noted was yielding positive results for micro and small scale entrepreneurs.
The anniversary featured a parade by the Anti-Tax Brigade and a thanksgiving service held at the Great Saint Charles Lwanga Parish in Calabar.
Bishop Emmah Isong Chairman of the Cross River State Anti-Tax Agency inspecting a guard of honour mounted by the Anti-Tax Brigade.(VON)