“It is highly insensitive, and it has shown how detached the government has become, to the plight of IMO people”.
THE CURE IS MORE THAN THE DISEASE
His Excellency Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s led APC government face off with eight commercial banks operating in Imo state is best described as a move against the people of the state. The move is “anti-people”.
It is to the effect that the affected banks remains under lock and key since it has been sealed up some days ago, subjecting the people of the state to untold hardship as businesses and economic activities in the state have suffered unfavourably. When banks cease to work, it affects people directly, people will be unable to cash in money or withdraw cash to pay for their goods and services, pay bills, and buy drugs for their ailments. This is a very terrible situation that will even lead to death, by so, every reasonable government should do all within her powers to avoid it, than, making the situation more maiming for people.
It is alleged that Imo state government in her revenue derive secured Court Order to seal off the affected banks in Imo state.
According to the Commissioner for Internal Resources and Pension Affairs, Mr. Nick Opara-Ndudu, in a press conference, explained that ‘’the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), in exercise of its statutory powers, sealed the premises of eight commercial banks in Imo State for their failure to pay to the withholding tax on interest paid to customers’.
According to the commissioner, the action was taken in compliance with a court order granted the BIR, authorizing it to seal the affected banks after their failure to heed the repeated demands to fulfil their statutory obligations to the state.
“The action of the BIR is intended to send a clear signal to all organizations and institutions operating in the state on the need for them to meet their statutory obligations to the state and its citizens”, the commissioner said. While noting that the action was taken in a very civil manner, Opara-Ndudu also revealed that the amount owed the state government was roughly N2 billion.
“I’m not in any shape or form against government genuine effort in her revenue derives, but I will be looking at the bigger picture of this action by the Government and indeed credible alternative approach without inflicting injuries on the people I tend to protect, and the state economy”.
It is obvious that the people and the affected businesses must have suffered and are still suffering huge losses on even date as a result of Governor Okorocha’s approach.
I placed a call to Imo state and many were complaining of their inability to do basic things of life, for example, paying prescriptions, hospital bills, food and shelter as their money were locked up in those banks.
Cash at automatic teller Machine (ATM) have run out, people are unable to cash money through (ATM). I’ am also a victim of this dumb approach.
The question therefore is whether this stalemate is avoidable in the circumstances and whether a different approach towards the same could achieve a better result without inflicting injuries on the people and the businesses around. A well negotiated approach to tax collection may save a lot of problems in a way of give and take approach.
WHAT I WILL DO:
“The moment the amount due is ascertained, my government will enter in business dealings with the banks with a view to balance books at the end of financial year or quarter”
I consider Okorocha’s action to be insensitive and disproportionate in all the circumstances. Governor Okorocha’s action is irrational and unreasonable in the Wednesbury sense, in that, the ultimate end sought to achieve – “Welfare of the people” has been defeated.
His action is lopsided in all the circumstances; it is like killing an ant with a large hammer.
If elected as Governor of IMO state in 2015, I will achieve better results without inflicting injuries on the people and state economy.
My government will approach this situation differently; I will consider approaching the Court with a different APPLICATION. My application to the Court will be to obtain an order for disclosure of transactions, then, I will hire professional accountants to ascertain their tax liability over the period to obtain the actual figure owed by these banks.
“Sadly, Okorocha is not aware of the tax liability of the eight banks in the state; the amount quoted about is nothing but unreliable estimate”.
Having ascertained the actual figure owed, I will then make a formal statutory demand to the affected banks for payment of the taxes owed to the state government.
If the banks failed to make payments as requested and also failed to negotiate with the government. My government may commence proceedings against the affected banks seeking for “Debt judgement” to be entered against the banks.
A further step will be taken to get enforcement orders of the Court asking the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) to pay the state government from the banks’ reserve funds.
It is instructive bankruptcy proceedings against defaulting banks may be considered in all attempt to draw home my government’s demand.
With the approach above, I strongly believe that the banks taken into account the nature of their product and services may have no other option than to come to negotiation table with the government.
Unfortunately, Governor Okorocha and his handlers have no idea on how to go about on collection of taxes owned by corporate organisations like banks without inflicting injuries on the masses and to the state economy.
Looking at the bigger picture, Governor Okorocha’s action is more than enough to discourage potential investors coming to the state.
Ejike Ikezuagu is a publisher, he lives and studied in United Kingdom.