From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Cross River State Anti-Taxation Agency Chairman Bishop Emmah Isong has revealed that council chairmen are behind the collection of illegal taxes and tolls in Cross State River.
Isong, who also serves as the publicity secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), said it was high time traders stood up to illegal tax collectors who come and harass them for levies.
Speaking at the agency’s second anniversary activities held in Calabar over the weekend, he said: ‘Council chairmen are the main perpetrators of illegal taxation.
Politicians use picking points as settlement of boys (thugs) after elections. So you can see that illegal taxation has been institutionalized.
He said Governor Ben Ayade set up an anti-tax agency to prevent the collection of taxes and levies from low-income people, adding that “two years after the agency was created, it reduced illegal taxes by 40% and promised that the agency must ensure that illegal taxation is eliminated from Cross River State.
“We will continue to preach against those who frustrate and exploit our state for their selfish gains. This agency is the first of its kind in Cross River State and in Africa.
“We know that other government agencies have also infringed on our constitutional duty and now we face threats. We therefore call on traders to reprimand illegal tax collectors who come to harass them. Once there is a mob action against illegal tax collectors, their activities will stop.
“In addition, some politicians who engage in illegal taxation should be punished and not allowed to hold public office.
“We are not yet where we are supposed to be but we are no longer where we were. Ayade’s tears will not have been in vain. We are not just a food agency on the table. We are a palliative post-COVID-19.
“We therefore call for adequate funding of the agency and the recruitment of more workers as most of them are volunteers so that the agency can do more.”
He noted that taxation is the oldest form of revenue generation in the world, but regretted that most people hide under government agencies and public offices to abuse taxation.
To combat the illegal tax threat, Isong
siad the agency is not deterred by this and is becoming well positioned to deal with the threat.
He added that local government officials were employed and deployed to all 18 local government areas in the state and we also liaised and interfaced with other branches of government.
The agency was established in 2020 to prevent illegal taxation to promote small business and entrepreneurship in Cross River State.