Construction giants, Julius Berger Plc and Dangote Cement, in Akwa Ibom State, have allegedly been accused of non-payment of tenement rates and other levies for a period of two years, by the Itu Local Government Revenue Consultants.
The revenue officials on Wednesday, grounded activities at both companies and blocked the main gates with vehicles protesting non-payment for a period of two years.
The revenue officials, who stormed the Julius Berger at 12:30pm, drove a Hilux vehicle and parked across the main gate, restricting all vehiclular movements into the premises for more than three hours, then proceeded to Dangote cement depot, a few metres away, where they also carried out similar action for about 30 minutes.
Our correspondent gathered that while Julius Berger was yet to pay their tenements and levies, amounting to over N81million, Dangote Cement Depot had an outstanding debt of over N53 million to remit to the council.
The Manager, Eggheads Tax Practitioners, the consultants to the lMr. Dominic Williams, who spoke with our correspondent expressed disappointment that despite demand notices served on the companies they had refused to pay a dime to the local government coffers.
He disclosed that the council in its wisdom granted a waiver in 2020, because of the COVID-19
pandemic, but regretted that subsequent entreaties in 2021 and earlier in 2022, to make the companies pay their dues, including an invitation by the commissioner of police fell on deaf ears.
He said, “We are here because of tax evasion that has been committed by Julius Berger and Dongote Cement. In 2020 because of COVID-19, the council in itS wisdom granted waiver, but in 2021, there was a demand notice that was served to them.
“Before the demand notice was served the council employed the services of an estate valuer, who was assisted with a surveyor and they went around the whole place for valuation and assessment.
“Thereafter, we gave them demand notices based on assessed amount and besides this there were other levies and fees that accrued to the council which was also assessed on them.
“We came here serverally, we served demand notices and followed up with a reminder and they gave deaf ears. Based on this the council chairman in his peaceful disposition reported the issue to the police commissioner who invited them for a brief but they refused to attend. Invitation was served twice but none of them turned up.
“It is based on this that we decided to come here today, to tell the whole world that Julius Berger and Dangote Cement Depot, have been evading taxes and levies in Akwa Ibom state.”
Our correspondent gathered that none of the Julius Berger’s representatives came out to address the revenue officials except for the security officials who hid their identities because they were not authorised to speak.
The development resulted to a clash between the officials and the security officers as they hauled abusive insults against themselves.
At the premises of Dangote Depot, however, the Inventory Officer, who identified himself as Abubakar Sani, pleaded with the revenue officials to wait for the depot manager, whom he said had gone out for an official engagement, adding that he was not aware of the claim that they had been coming to the company but didn’t get any result.
“I have always been here and if you have been coming here as you have said there is no way the security will not allow you into the yard. I don’t know anything pertaining to what you are saying because the person who is supposed to attend to you is not here. You can come back to see him,” Sani pleaded.