Firm reopens dredging site sealed for tax evasion

Sand dredging
Sand dredging used to illustrate the story [Photo credit: Smithsonian Ocean Portal]

The Azikel Group, an indigenous sand dredging firm, has resumed business in spite of the sealing of its site by Bayelsa Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) on December 15, over alleged tax evasion amounting to N30 million.

A News Agency of Nigeria correspondent who visited the premises of the firm on Friday reported that the gates had been forced open.

Azibapu Eruani, the President of Azikel Group, had on Thursday in Yenagoa, said that the allegation of non-remittance of pay-as-you-earn tax against the firm was false.

Mr. Eruani said in a statement by his Media Assistant, Tari Ebibo, that Azikel Group was not indebted to the Board of Internal Revenue.

He said that the alleged tax debt was not only misleading, but also aimed at maligning the Group known for its unblemished record and excellence in the state and Niger Delta.

The president urged the board to stop ‘misleading the public’ and address the substantive suit in court.

“Azikel Group has continued to contribute to the human capital development in the state as an indigenous company owned by a Bayelsa person.

“It has brought hope to the people of the state by bridging the unemployment gap.

“Majority of the people we employ in our sand dredging operations and our subsidiary companies are people of Bayelsa origin.

“While Azikel Group has continued to receive commendation within and outside the country for successes recorded in job creation and the industrial deficit in the state, only unprogressive mind would be blinded to the innovation that Azikel Group has brought to the state.

“Our resolve to give our state, Bayelsa, a pride of place among comity of industrialised states in Nigeria remains on course,’’ Mr. Ebibo said.

Officials of BIR on December 15, sealed the dredging site operated by the Group and the Yenagoa liason office of Federal Polytechnic Ekeowe, after a court order from a state High Court.

An official of the board, who craved for anonymity, told NAN that forceful removal of the board’s seal was illegal because the group failed to approach the revenue board for any discussions on the outstanding tax.

The official said that the federal polytechnic, sealed alongside the firm on December 15, had been reopened following the visit of the rector to the board with a pledge to work out repayment plans.

“It is already to the notice of BIR that Azikel has forcefully resumed operations and as a law abiding organisation, we shall approach it within the law; we have reopened the Federal Polytechnic liaison office; the Rector led a delegation to BIR and talks are underway,” the official said.


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