Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, has sealed companies in Lagos, Abuja, Owerri and Kaduna over unremitted taxes.
The action, which came a day after FIRS closed down some of the offices of telecommunications company, Globacom Limited, in Lagos for failure to remit N24.3 billion in Value Added Tax, VAT, affected two companies belong to National Mirror publisher, Jimoh Ibrahim.
In Lagos, the FIRS sealed the premises of Swift Networks, an internet provider, and Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria Limited, for failing to remit huge amounts in VAT.
Swift Networks, which has its office on 31, Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, allegedly failed to remit N702 million to the government.
It’s office was sealed by FIRS officials led by the Director of Enforcement, Emeka, Obiagwu.
Chief Operating Officer of Swift Networks, Chuma Okoye’s pleading against the shutdown order, were rebuffed by Obiagwu who insisted that the company ought to have complied with the rules governing business in the country.
“Several notices have been served on the companies and I believe several moves were also made to compel the companies to remit their taxes. But most of these companies turn deaf ears; that is why we usually give them long rope,” he disclosed.
At the office of Pan Ocean Oil Corporation, the enforcement recorded some drama, with the company’s security men attempting to prevent FIRS officials from carrying out their duty.
It took the intervention of some members of the company to restrain their security men against preventing FIRS officials from enforcing the shutdown.
Efforts to get FIRS officials to give another period of grace were futile. The management of the firm was told to send representatives to the FIRS office to discuss how to remit the $29.2m owed in VAT.
At Century Energy Services Limited, members of staff were told to vacate their offices and the building was sealed up.
The Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, tax enforcement team also sealed off two erring companies in Kaduna, where it sealed the office of System Properties Development Company limited, SPDC, located at Shehu Crescent in Kaduna North Local Government Area.
The company had failed to remit over N20 million.
The same fate befell Mutunci Company Nigeria Limited located at plot 5 Kudenda Industrial Layout Kaduna. The company failed to remit over N42 million.
The owner of the company, an Indian whose name was given as Mr. Vora, insisted that he was up to date in the payment of all his taxes and went ahead to show his 2016 VAT clearance certificate due to expire in December.
His explanation, however, was deemed unsatisfactory, as he was told by the enforcement team that there are discrepancies between the expected payment and the actual payment of over N42million.
Speaking on the exercise, the enforcement team leader, Suleiman Abubakar, said, the exercise was to get defaulting companies to remit VAT.
He disclosed that the tax enforcement exercise was going on across the federation.
In Abuja, the FIRS team sealed off two companies owned Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim.
Led by Miss Ruth Mandeun, the enforcement team gave the management of the companies over one hour to pay up before executing the distrait warrant on them.
The first point of call was the NICON Luxury Hotel located in Garki, Area 11. The hotel, according to a warrant of distrait used by the FIRS team to seal it off owed about N392, 623,765.00 in unpaid tax liabilities.
The amount was made up of unpaid/unremitted liabilities of the hotel in Company Income Tax, Education Tax, Withholding Tax and Value Added Tax between years 2009 to 2013.
The management team of the hotel, led by Mrs. Ogunlusi Abimbola, initially insisted that that the company does not owe government such a huge sum, putting the tax arrears of the company at N24 million out of which she said the company has paid N6million.
But when the enforcement team insisted, she agreed that the hotel is aware of the tax liability, but claimed that a tax consultant to the company had written the Chairman of FIRS to complain about the liability and that the hotel is already discussing with the Service on how to resolve the dispute.
But when she couldn’t produce copies of her correspondence with the FIRS, the leader of the team insisted that nothing but the payment of the full tax liabilities would stop the execution of the distrait warrant.
When the hotel insisted that it did not have such funds to pay, the enforcement team shut it down, after six hours of resistance by the management.
The sealing off of the hotel led to the closure of the other offices and three bank branches located within its premises.
Members of People Democratic Party, PDP, holding a stakeholders’ meeting in one of the halls in the hotel were forced to park their vehicles outside the premises as the enforcement team locked the gates while workers of the hotel had to close abruptly.
Next was NICON Insurance which, according to the warrant, owes N182,685,036 million in unremitted Withholding Tax and VAT from 2008 to 2012.
The team sealed off only the third, fourth and ninth floor of the building being used by NICON insurance following appeals by other occupants, including Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, that the sin of the other occupant should not be visited on the other occupants. Companies were similarly sealed in Owerri

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