The Bayelsa Board of Internal Revenue, BIR, on Wednesday sealed off a Chinese company, Hilong Oil Services and Engineering Company Limited over alleged tax default of N109.5 million.
The enforcement team of BIR comprising armed police officers and personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence, NSCDC, sealed off the company’s premises located at Elebele, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that soldiers guarding the premises had initially prevented the enforcement team access until an official of the company intervened.
The Director of Compliance, BIR, Robert Lokoson, who led the enforcement team, said the state government authorised the operation in order to recover a tax debt of N109.5 million owed it by the company since 2013.
Mr. Lokoson said the operation was in pursuant of Section 104 of the Personal Income Tax (Amendment) Law 2011, and an ex parte order granted by the High Court of Bayelsa State.
“This operation is part of Bayelsa State Government’s efforts in improving Internally Generated Revenue in the state and pursuant to Section 104 of Personal Income Tax Law, 2011.
“The debt has been owed since 2013, and we have written series of letters to them to pay but no response from them.
“A few weeks back, we came here, though not with court orders with the intention of having them to see reasons to come and comply, but the company failed to respond.
“So, we have to take this last resort of getting court orders.
“Tax matter has laws binding it and as a law-abiding board, we have gone through the necessary processes to arrive at carrying out the sealing,’’ the director said.
According to him, after 14 days, if there is no response from the company, the board will go back to court and institute a case against them.
He said the sealing off the company was an indication of the state government’s determination to recover the money, adding it needs money to finance its projects.
“If a company owe this much, we have to do everything possible to recover the money. It will go for one project or the other.
“This action will send a strong message to other companies that we are not joking. Companies have been taking us for granted in this state.
“Now, we want to enforce the law to the letter so that those other companies that are not complying will see reasons to comply,” Mr. Lokoson added.
However, an official of the company, who had earlier allowed the enforcement team into the premises, declined to comment on the development.
According to him, he has no authorisation to speak on behalf of the organisation.