The Benue Government on Friday said it had lost over N800 million Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in two months as a result of dismantling of revenue points by police.
Mrs Mimi Orubibi, the Executive Chairman, Benue Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), told Nigerian Pilot in Markurdi that the state had witnessed sharp fall in revenue generation since the second week of March.
NAN recalls that the Inspector General of Police directed the X-Squad, a police team, to dismantle all road blocks and revenue checkpoints along highways across the country.
Orubibi said that the fall in the revenue was as a result of the activities of the special task force team of Nigerian Police Force named “X-Squad” who where dismantling all revenue checkpoints in the state.
“Last month, there were pockets of it, but this month they have driven all revenue agents away and dismantled the approved checkpoints.
“There was a sharp fall from March to April.
“Between March and April, we have lost around N25 to N300 million which represent 30 per cent decrease in the state IGR.
“But for this month of May, if the menace is not controlled or checked, we can lose around N450 to N500 million which is 50 per cent because they have already dismantled all revenue checkpoints in the state,” she said
Orubibi said that the board had officially written to the Inspector General of Police and copied the state Commissioner of Police to complain about the activities of X-Squad police team in the state for appropriate action.
She said that the board relied on the Joint Tax Board Schedule of Taxes and Levies Act, Cap. T12 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Amended order 2015) which domesticated 25 taxes to be collected by states.
The tax officer said that the law empowered states to set up structures for collection of her revenues for which the state government created 11 revenue inspection points designated by law and situated at exit points and distance away from federal roads.
NAN also reports that the Nigerian Police and Benue Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) Consultants Forum have been bickering over the police continuous dismantling of all revenue checkpoints in the state.
The President of the forum, Chief John Akperashi, had earlier accused the police of conspiring with officials of Nigerian Association of Agricultural Products Dealers and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to unlawfully collect between N2000 to N3000, depending on the category.
“They have resorted to wanton arrest and brutal intimidation of innocent revenue collection agents as well as continuous destruction of Revenue Inspection Points and their facilities (offices, houses, billboards, etc) meant to check revenue invaders in the state.
“We are aware of a letter earlier written by the Minister of Agriculture to the governor on “Congestion of Inter-State Control Post of Disease and Surveillance, requesting that revenue should not be collected at such points.
“We wish to state unequivocally and in strong terms that no one has prevented the Veterinary Doctors or Quarantine agents from carrying out their professional duties of inspecting animals for the purpose of disease control.
“It is rather disheartening to note that these doctors/agents have deviated from carrying out their professional responsibility and are more interested in the revenue which is due to the state government”.
Akperashi further called on the Inspector General of Police to immediately direct men of the X-Squad to stop the harassment of revenue agents.
In his reaction, the state Police Commissioner, Mr Bashir Makama told NAN that the command was yet to receive any report or petition of any nature relating to the activities of Operation X-Squad team in the state.
Makama also denied that no police officer was involved in the collection of revenue on check points across the state, adding that X-Squad was only implementing its mandate in the state.
He urged the BIRS and other stakeholders in the revenue sector to come together and resolve their difference or report for appropriate actions.
NAN reports that the major sources of internally generated revenue in Benue state are agriculture, forestry and livestock products. NAN