- Biz man threatens Court Action Against govt, Others.
- Revenue thugs kill lorry driver.
By Ononye VC
The much touted mantra of “Ease of doing Business” and “the most Secure state in Nigeria” by the Anambra State Government came into serious question and doubt as businessmen have continued to cry out over incessant harassments,intimidation and extortion by various revenue groups across the length and breadth of the state.
With the various claims by the state government that it was taking necessary steps to curb the nuisance as announced over the mass media,a different thing appears to be playing out at the various parks,roads and highways as well as markets.
The ugly scenario has failed to abate due to allegations that some government officials are behind the huge fraud and extortion which generate millions of Naira,weekly to the officials.
The aiding and abetting stance of the people in government has allegedly emboldened the thugs used in perpetrating the illegal activities to unleash mayhem on innocent business men and women on daily basis.
One of such numerous cases is the pathetic case of the owner of a warehouse and parking lot at No 223/240 Obodo-Ukwu Road, Ogbaru local Govt Area,Mr Patrick Ezeifo who narrated his ordeal to Journalists,lamenting that his entire business has been liquidated by revenue collectors who claim to be working for the state government.
According to him,since after Governor Willie Obiano released him from the clutches of some highly placed officials of the government who closed his business illegally and carted away his property worth several millions,another group masquerading as revenue agents of government have completely crippled his business with multiple taxes and inexplicable charges as government revenue.
For instance he said,some people posing as government revenue contractors under the Anambra Internal Revenue Service(AIRS)compel him to pay N60,000 monthly which he found extremely difficult to pay.
And whereas he struggled to pay the N60,000 and hardly made enough to feed his family added to his inability to pay his staff most of whom he has sacked,the members of the Board of Trustees(BOT)of Ogbaru Relief Market led by one Chief Victor Akirika allegedly forced him to be paying into their private pockets the sum of between N5000 and N7000 daily,an action according to him,they perpetrate with with red eyed thugs and brutality.
Ezeifo showed journalists various documents with which he paid the illegal fees.
He also showed journalists a petition he wrote to Governor Willie Obiano on 22nd June 2020 delivered to the Governor’s office same day but was never acted upon,a suspicion that some people never allowed the petion to reach the governor.
He buttressed his suspicion with various threats issued to him from the various illegal revenue collectors who he alleged dropped names of highly placed officials as owners of such illegal revenue Windows.
While the BOT of Ogbaru Relief Market terrorise the entire area with thugs and illegal revenue collection, some business owners in the area,namely,Samuel Ani,Anthony Ozoezi,Ifediora Francis among many others, on 11th July 2020,wrote a petition to the BOT members expressing concern and disgust on the repressive illegal fees.
The general atmosphere of illegal taxation,toll collection and intimidation of businessmen in Anambra particularly Onitsha,took a new direction during the week when illegal toll collectors chased a lorry driver to his untimely death when after the driver hadn’t enough money to pay his way through, the revenue thugs pounced on him while in motion and his lorry crashed into an embankment and killed him.Instantly,the thugs disappeared causing a huge protest and barricade of the Niger Bridge by protesters who were angry with the revenue collectors.
In reaction through a public service announcement by the Anambra State Commissioner for Information, Mr C.Don Adinuba, the state government immediately banned all forms of toll collection on the roads.
But in a reaction,a public affairs Commentator Mr Victor Ibemesi chided the state government for dilly dallying on the persisting illegal revenue collection in the state.
In his Facebook comment, Mr Ibemesi said,
“We have heard this type of public service announcement but nothing practically has changed positively, rather things are degenerating into anomie.
The fact remains that the state government is not sincere in its handling of the nefarious activities of revenue agents in the state.
Many lives have been lost in Onitsha due to beastial activities of these touts.
The state’s top government functionaries know the sponsors of these touts so this holier than though attitude means nothing to me. It is very unfortunate that things have degenerated to this low under this administration.
Let us pray that the state police command will rise up to the challenge and do the needful. But the fact remains that I don’t trust this state government again”, he said.