From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

For evading Personal Income Tax to the tune of over N1.7billion, the Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) yesterday (Thursday) sealed some banks in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

Some of the affected banks are two branches of Zenith Bank located on High Level and Wurukum, Skye Bank at High Level and Wurukum, and Unity Bank located on Bank Lane, New Otukpo Road.

Chairman of BIRS, Mrs. Mimi Adzape-Orubibi who led a team of members of staff on the enforcement said the decision to picket the banks became necessary after several letters were written to them on the need for them to pay up their Personal Income Taxes between 2009 to 2015 were not honoured.

She explained further that the taxes, when finally paid, would assist the Samuel Ortom led state government to offset part of the salary being owed workers in the state.

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Armed with a court warrant obtained from a High Court, Adzape-Orubibi personally ensured that all customers and staff of the affected banks were ejected from the banks before placing the BIRS seal on the doors and locking the gates with chains.

She added that the debt figure given so far was based on best of judgement stressing that after now, it is expected that a proper audit would be carried out to ascertain the actual amount owed by the banks.

According to the court warrant made available to Daily Sun, the decision to distrain by sealing the banks was in compliance with section 104 of the Personal Income Tax Act 2011 (as amended) and Section 41(1),(3) and (4) of the Benue State Internal Revenue Administration Law 2015.

Efforts by the management of the affected banks to prevail on the BIRS team failed as the BIRS boss insisted the banks had to be put under lock before any negotiation can commence to serve as a deterrent to other tax defaulters in the state.