“I missed the opportunity because the U.K. Embassy discovered that my TCCs were forged.”
A monarch in Bayelsa, Emmanuel Emberru, has been banned from entering the U.K. for 10 years.
The monarch, who is the Amaowe of Aduku in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Tuesday, narrated his ordeal to a Federal High Court, in Yenagoa.
A prosecution witness, Mr. Emberru told the court that consular officials at the British Embassy insisted that the ban remains in force unless the court case involving the forgery of his Companies’ Tax Clearance Certificates (TCC) exonerates him.
The case was filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, which slammed a 16-count charge against four accused persons bordering on forgery of Companies TCCs, forgery of signatures of officials of the tax agency, and forgery of official rubber stamp of officials of the agency.
The documents were allegedly forged to enable the monarch travel abroad but were detected by the British Embassy officials.
On Tuesday, the Court adjourned hearing on the case to November 4 and 5.
The 61-year old traditional ruler, who is FIRS witness in the case, lamented that the Embassy denied him access to the U.K. to attend the wedding ceremony of his daughter because he tendered the two fake TCCs which were procured for him by the four accused persons.
Mr. Emberru claimed that he approached the revenue authority for TCCs but did not know that the TCCs issued to him by the accused were fake.
The FIRS had told the court that the four accused conspired and counterfeited Companies Income Tax Certificates for 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The TCC number 05076637 and file reference number 02626328-0001 were purportedly issued on January 9, 2013 in favour of Kofaben International Limited of Yenazue-Gene, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, and Seebemm International Limited, contrary to Section 49(1) of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act No; 13 of 2007.
The trial judge, Justice I. E. Ekwo, Tuesday, commenced accelerated trial of the accused persons who were earlier arraigned before the court and remanded in prison pending the determination of the suit.
The Counsel to FIRS, James Binang, told the court that he wanted it to swiftly determine the case so that it would serve as deterrent to people who have intentions to forge TCC and also for taxpayers who are fond of patronizing touts.
Mr. Binang also said that the FIRS would diligently prosecute the case so that it would send a strong message to the general public.
“This is a very important case. The Federal Inland Revenue Service is interested in prosecuting the case to send some strong messages to the general public,” he said.
“One, taxpayers should avoid patronizing roadside people and touts who claim to be working for the revenue authorities.
“Taxpayers should learn to always go to the tax authorities, and follow due process to file their taxes; two, no fraudster will be able to escape the long arm of the law.
“Once someone is caught to have forged any tax document or defraud the government in any way, that person must surely be prosecuted thoroughly and justice meted out on him,” Mr. Binang said
Narrating his ordeal, Mr. Emberru said that he had gone through a lot and lost a lot of opportunities as a result of his encounter with the accused persons.
“Look at my hair, I am about 61, but I am made to go through this ordeal. I could not attend the wedding ceremony of my daughter in the U.K. and you know that it is the joy of every parent to see their children wed.
“I missed the opportunity because the U.K. Embassy discovered that my TCCs were forged. Yesterday was my birthday but I marked it in court. You can imagine how I feel.
“But I have a message to other taxpayers. ‘Do not ask just anybody for your TCC. Always go to the Tax Controller and request for the TCC.
“They told my son that under normal circumstance, my TCC would not be ready in a day but that they could give it to me in one day. But these people are not real people.
“Our people have an idiom that “it is the rat in the house that knows where the fish is”, Mr. Emberru said.
After adjourning the case, the Court granted the bail applications of the four accused person for N1 million and a surety each, who must be traditional rulers.