The Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, South East Zone has written Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano over issue of levies, double taxation, extortion and daylight brigandage all in the name of pursuing Internally Generated Revenue for the state in Onitsha as it affects commercial activities in the state.
CLO in the letter signed by its Zonal Chairman, Comrade Aloysius Attah cited the plight of the Traders at the Uba Planks and Joints Ltd, UPJA, (Ogbo Osisi) and the Amalgamated Timber Dealers Association, ATDA, all at the Bridge Head axis of Onitsha who recently sent a Save our Soul , SoS, distress message to Governor Obiano over multiple levies.
The traders had lamented the excess expenses they incur on their goods within Onitsha while conveying them from Sapele where they normally source for them noted that the accumulated charges from different government revenue agents is crippling their business.
The CLO noted that some of the affected traders like Kenneth Okereke, Victor Iwuoha and Emma Nweke revealed that they are forced to pay the cash sum of N9, 000 per vehicle to one revenue agent known as Jekwu before such truck load of timber is allowed to pass through the down bridge and proceed for offloading inside the market.
The affected traders also presented various other receipts of taxes/levies they are forced to be paying.
The receipts included : “Government of Anambra State of Nigeria, Ministry of Trade, Commerce, Market and Wealth Creation Commerce Fees, Agent, C.J Ventures, Division of Pascmary Intl Investment Ltd”, “Anambra State Government of Nigeria, Road Maintenance Daily Motor Ticket, Lorry /Trailers N,1500, Trucks/911 N500, Semi Truck/608 , N200,” “Government of Anambra State of Nigeria, Anambra State Internal Revenue Service, Onitsha South Heavy Duty, Loading and offloading ticket , IGR, N4,000”
“Other payable tickets includes : Anambra State Government , Ministry of Transport, Route Identification Ticket for commercial road users in Anambra State.”, “Government of Anambra State Daily Ticket, Haulage Fee for all vehicles operating in Anambra State, N1,500, N,1000, N500, N200, Office of the Honourable Commissioner for Transport”, “Unified Anambra State Local Government Daily Tolls Ticket, operational in every local government of the state”, Government of Anambra State , Ministry of Environment in collaboration with Calidimma Ventures Nig, Forestry Produce, N2000” among others”.
The CLO noted that there is no clear cut distinction between local government revenue and the state revenue while the ministries of transport, agriculture, environment and commerce have no defined terms of payment of levies even as the citizenry are not educated or informed of any accredited revenue agent for the state, local government or ministries.
While calling on the government to urgently address the anomalies, CLO stated that the multifarious revenue collectors have not only portrayed the image of the state in a very negative light but have also scared away many business operators from coming into Onitsha.
“We are not talking about the cart riders, tricycles, and other traders across different markets who are not only forced to pay as they convey goods within the market but are also molested along the road if they are doing intra-transport conveyance of those goods.
“While we know it as a fact that government has to pursue its internally generated revenue in order to meet up with its fiscal obligations instead of relying on the monthly federal allocations, it is a different ball game entirely if such revenue drive is done in so much duplicity and in an unharmonised way.
“The situation has led to a case of the jungle where might is right while the traders and the citizens are forced to bear the brunt of such anomalies even as government is also crying about diversion of revenue and activities of fake revenue agents.
The CLO therefore calls on the government to urgently address these anomalies. A town hall meeting for traders and transporters should be convoked in the state where the right information about revenue and mode of payments should be conveyed to them.
The local government administrations of Onitsha North and South should be summoned for them to identify their own revenue windows and those appointed to collect such.
The Commissioners of Transport, Commerce and Environment should also be made to come clean on their own revenue windows and contractors too.
The market leadership of the timber union and the bridge head market union in general should also be invited for questions on what they know about these levies more so as the traders accuse them of having some cuts in the deal.
In all, the CLO is asking that sanity should prevail in the state as it concerns revenue collection and IGR issues. The proliferation of touts, stick wielding revenue collectors reeking of alcohol and other hard substances is a serious blight to the state that goes with the sobriquet-The Light of the Nation” the CLO said.