By Nsan Ndoma-Neji, Calabar
No fewer than 20 persons are to be prosecuted in court by authorities of the Cross River State Anti-Tax Agency, following their arrest by by the agency’s brigade for allegedly extorting money from very low income earners, against government directives which had given tax relief to very low income earners engaged in petty trading in the state.
The Anti-Tax Agency Chairman, Bishop Dr. Gospel Emmah Isong, stated this yesterday while speaking with media men after the arrest of the illegal tax collectors in Calabar metropolis.
The financial expert-turned preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ stated that the agency is to implement the directives of the state governor, Prof. Benedict Ayade, on zero taxation policy for low income earners, small and medium scale enterprises, as well as the transportation sector.
The was a fall out of the operation of the Anti-Tax Brigade, which went round the various tickets and tolls’ points located at popular Watt Market, Mayne Avenue by Fosbery axis, Ette Agbor, Marian and MCC junction, where some of the culprits were arrested.
Decrying the increased rate of illegal taxation, Isong warned that the state government would not fold its arms and watch illegal tax collectors trampled upon the privileges of others.
He said that the agency has perfected it plans to clamp down on illegal tax collectors, who take delight in making life unbearable for residents of the state, just because they are desperate to make quick cash.
The agency, which made the arrest alongside other security agencies like the Police, the Nigeria Civil Defense Security Corps, NCDSC, and the state security apparatus, Homeland Security, attached to the Anti-Tax Agency, which had previously warned those involved in “illegal toll collection” to desist forthwith from extorting money from petty traders and other low income earners or be ready to face full weight of the law, said that those caught in the act shall be handed over to the appropriate authority for prosecution, to serve as a deterrent to others.
Isong insisted that the agency is acting based on Governor Ayade’s orders against illegal taxing of poor citizens, who may have been struggling at all cost to put food on their tables, stressing that the government would stop at nothing until the right thing is done.
He added, “The enforcement of Governor Ayade’s Anti-Tax Law has aggressively taken effect and you can see we were on the streets to arrest those still flouting the government’s order on illegal tolls.
“Those arrested would not escape the long arms of the law, as they are going to be immediately prosecuted at the Special Court, as provided for in 2015 and set up for such purpose.
‘‘There are so many multiple taxes imposed on the people and the governor is angry, Cross Riverians are angry, the agency will not relent to maximize its efforts to curb this menace.”