Gov Adams Oshiomhole reads riot act over illegal taxes

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Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has asked the Chairmen of Local Governments in the state to put a stop to the collection of illegal taxes in their council areas saying only legitimate and approved taxes must be collected.

adams oshiomole edo

The governor who also warned against double taxation, said it amounts to extortion of the taxpayer if he is made to pay tax to both the State Government and Local Government on the same matter.

Speaking during a meeting with the Chairmen of the eighteen Local Government Areas of the state in his office, yesterday, Oshiomhole said “our local governments must be careful on the issue of revenue collection. I recognize the legitimacy of tax collection. Everywhere in the world, taxes are paid. Government needs it to run and provide services to the people.

“I know as local governments you have obligation to pay salaries, you have obligation to provide and maintain markets and there a couple of areas where you are supposed to be active. You also have a number of health centres and several other purposes that you need tax to operate.

“The oil theft that has been on for quite some time has affected all ties of government. Edo state for example lost one billion naira. The difference between the budget and what the federal government released to us last month was about one billion naira and I know that would have also affected the allocation to each of your local governments”, he said.

“However, for too long, many people have been masquerading as tax collectors. I think we have done enough sermonizing and enough awareness campaign. I have spoken with the traffic Management officials, I believe it is time after this lengthy warnings that we now begin to invoke the law and that is why I have invited the Commissioner of Police, the Directorate of State Security Service to be present at this meeting so that I can now, here and publicly remind the Chairmen and encourage them to join us in maintaining the law.

“If someone who is not authorized by the law to collect tax goes about extorting money from the public, the police and the SSS would ensure that he is arrested and prosecuted by the mobile court and if found guilty will be sent to prison.

“Local Governments must desist from illegal tax collection of taxes. Where the state is supposed to collect taxes, local governments should not interfere, where local government collects, the state should not collect because the law is clear. Where we have a memorandum of understanding to streamline tax collection so that we have one box where taxes are collected and distributed, that must be adhered to.

“Anybody outside that MOU who chooses to collect taxes will be arrested and prosecuted. I also want to add that nobody has immunity. I probably have some, I am not sure how far it can take anyone but the truth of the matter is nobody has immunity.”

Oshiomhole reminded them that they have a responsibility to maintain law and order in their councils, saying “As chairmen of Local Governments, it is true you have responsibilities for the security of your local government area but you can only discharge that responsibility when you liaise with the stakeholders in your local government because somehow these criminals live among us.

“So I want to encourage you as you go back to your local governments, you have to try and work with the police and the SSS, Traditional rulers and community leaders so that they can share information.

Responding on behalf of the Chairmen, Mrs Itohan Ogbeide said “the state government is not against collection of legal levies and taxes. What we are bothered about is the illegal collections at road blocks where spurious demands are made from road users.

“We condemn illegal radio levies, advertisements and all kinds of tickets among others. We support the state government in all its developmental efforts”, she said.