The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has been enjoined to always cross-check its records before sealing up business premises for alleged tax evasion. Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc in Ovia Local Government Area of Edo State, said this in a statement issued in Benin City by its communication officer, Mr. Fidelis Olise.
The company’s managing director, Dr. Graham Hefer, was quoted in the statement as saying “FIRS illegally sealed its premises located at Okomu Village, near Benin on Wednesday February 14.’’
Olise said that FIRS Head of Enforcement Unit, Abuja, Mrs. Anita Erinne, “unilaterally sealed up the company after refusing to speak with themanaging director to verify if the company owed tax or not.’’
He, however, said that the company was unsealed after FIRS, Benin office confirmed that it had never defaulted in payment of its taxes to government.
“We are deeply saddened and angered by the manner in which this illegal sealing was done, and more especially by the brazen attitude of Mrs. Erinne who refused to speak with the MD on the phone,” he stressed.
According to him, the action caused the company great embarrassment, as banks, investors and shareholders have been on the phone consistently asking questions on the development.
“FIRS action could affect the future income of more than 14,000 Nigerian shareholders, aside from soiling its good reputation with financial institutions,’’ he stated.
Olise said although, the revenue agency had issued a verbal apology for its action, “we demand a written apology from the chairman of the board of FIRS, an apology letter from Erinne and a full retraction of the article placed by FIRS in the social media to stem the negative impact of their action on the company.”
According to him, the company will be forced to take legal action to the tune of N5 billion against the FIRS for the damage to its reputation and loss of income to shareholders’ for the illegal sealing of its premises.
He, however, expressed confidence that FIRS would do the needful to avoid legal action.
Mr. F. Muktar, Head of FIRS office in Benin, reportedly confirmed that the company had been unsealed after the error, but refused to speak further on the matter.
“I advise you get in touch with our headquarters in Abuja,’’ he said.