The Chairman of Cross River Anti-Tax Agency, Bishop Emmah Isong has accused Nigerian Politicians of imposing illegal and multiple taxes on the poor masses and turn back to use the proceeds for political empowerment.
He said this on Friday in Calabar during a workshop organised to mark the one year anniversary of the Agency.
Isong advised the people to shun such empowerments by politicians saying that the money was forcefully taken from them.
“Many Nigerian Politicians are wicked. They impose illegal and multiple taxes on the poor masses only to turn around and use the proceeds to purchase sewing machines, dryiers, clippers to distribute to the same poor in the name empowerment.
“I advise people not to collect such empowerments because it is evil. They send their tugs to beat up poor people in the name of Revenue drive. This is pure exploitation, ” Isong said.
He lauded the vision of Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River for setting up the agency to ensure that the poor in the state were exempted from payment of tax.
“It is a unique experience and the first of its kind in Nigeria, Ayade needs to be commended for this vision.
“The State House of Assembly also needs to be commended for coming out with a legislation to support the governor’s initiative, ” he said.
The Chairman said that based on it’s mandate, the Agency has made some achievements since it’s inauguration a year ago.
According to him, some of the achievements include, encouraging the growth of Small and Medium Scale enterprises in the state by taking the tax budden off them.
Also, creating an enforcement team known as, Anti-Tax Brigade, having regular interface with relevant agencies to harmonize, monitor implementation of tax exemption policies.
He appealed for increased funding for the agency to enable it acheive it’s mandate.
Speaking, the Administrative Secretary of the agency, Rev. Fr. Julius Ada said the agency had chosen representatives in all the 18 Local Government Areas of the state in furtherance of its activities.
“We are moving into the local government areas gradually, apart from having representatives, we are also carrying out sensitisation across the 18 Local Government Areas, ” he said.
A petty trader, Miss Majesty Odiong told Journalists that she had been a victim of illegal and multiple taxation in Calabar.
“For me, this anti tax has helped me, before I used to pay N800 every day and my business is not even upto N3000.
“This one will come and say local government levy; another person will say Union levey just like that.
“But since the agency started they are no longer coming to disturb us, ” she said.
Another trader, Mr Joseph Eric said he was once rescued by the agency.
“I was once a victim of this illegal taxes. They came to my little phone accessories shop and packed everything in the shop unless I paid them N2000.
“They claimed to have come from the local government office so, one of my neighbors gave me the phone number of the agency and immediately I called they responded and traced the illegal tax agents and arrested them and returned my goods, so I really appreciate the governor for creating the agency, ‘ he said.
Speaking further, the Head of Legal Services, Dr Williams Anwan said that, over 40 illegal tax agents have been arrested by the agency, adding that they would be prosecuted inline with anti tax agency law of 2015 as amended.
He blamed the menace of illegal tax in the state to the local government authorities who hide under their power to collect levies to subject the gullible public into untold hardship.
According to him, the law of the state supercede that of the local government.
It would be recalled that the governor had said during his inaugural speech in 2015 that his administration would ensure that the poor and the vulnerable were exempted from paying any form of tax in the state.
The categories of those exempted from tax included: Okada riders, keke NAPEP operators, Taxi drivers, hair salon operators, Barbers, hawkers etc.