The Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service (AKIRS) has closed the gates of Keystone and Heritage banks for failing to pay their taxes, amounting to over N228 million. Our correspondent gathered that the two banks, located along Abak road and Ikot road, respectively, were sealed by the revenue agency on Thursday as they could not settle their arrears of tax liabilities in the state.

According to the Executive Director in charge of Enforcement and Debt Recovery at the Revenue Board, Mr. Leo Umana, the closure of the two banks was in compliance with its enforcement drive.

Umana said Heritage bank has failed to pay N100,270,910, while Keystone bank has refused to pay N128,413,882 owed to the state  government as tax liabilities.

He said the two banks were sealed after an ex parte order of Notice of Distraint was obtained by the State Revenue Service from the Akwa Ibom State High Court, Uyo Division.

“The Court Order was signed by Hon. Justice Effiong Effiong, who ordered that access to the bank premises and its facilities be restricted.”

The Court Order, which was sighted by newsmen in Uyo, stated that the two banks have not been remitting the actual tax from employee salaries as well as other taxes meant for the state.

The court order reads, in part: “The banks have not been remitting the actual tax deductible from their employ-ees’ salaries and other relevant taxes due to the State; hence, they failed to comply with the provisions of relevant tax laws.”

Umana said the banks were given warning notices but failed to comply after several months. He explained that the Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service had exhausted reconciliation and negotiation opportunities with the organizations before resorting to this action.

He also pointed out that since the banks’ management has refused to remit taxes accruing to the State despite the long period of time given to them, the revenue agency had no option but to secure the ex parte order as a move to recover State Government revenue.

Umana noted that, for the banks served with the Notice of Distraint, under the law, they have 14 days to negotiate with AKIRS and vacate the order.

“If, after 14 days, they do not comply, we have the mandate of the court to sell the property and recover the tax owed to the State.”

He said that the ongoing enforcement drive of Akwa Ibom Revenue Service is aimed at recovering State government revenue and assisting the state in realizing its A-R-IS-E agenda. Culled: Daily Times. 

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