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Tax Default: AKSG Goes Tough On ExxonMobil Over N24.5bn Debt

By Ekemini Simon


The Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service has taken its tax enforcement/ recovery drive to the oil rich community of Ibeno, issuing warning notice to oil giant, ExxonMobil over non remittance of taxes into the coffers of the Akwa Ibom State government.

According to AKIRS, ExxonMobil has defaulted in remitting the actual tax deductible from its employees’ salaries.

It could be recalled that there are still lingering issues over oil blocks sold to ExxonMobil in Nigeria by the Federal Government.

In an interview with Okoi Obono-Obla, a former aide to President Muhammadu Buhari who headed a special panel on the recovery of government property, he was quoted according to Premium Times of saying that Mobil had purchased oil block below the actual worth.

Obono-Obla noted “I was also leading an investigation into the oil block that was sold to Mobil Nigeria and Mobil paid only 650 million dollars instead of 2.5 billion dollars. In this particular transaction, the eminent human rights activist, Femi Falana, wrote a petition against it and we began asking questions.”

AKIRS also issued warning notices to Guarantee Trust Bank (Abak Road and Udo Udoma branches) whose tax debt is allegedly put at N184 Million and Fortune Schools which are all operating in Uyo, the capital city of Akwa Ibom.

The Notices by AKIRS read that the organizations “have not been remitting the actual tax deductible from its employees’ salaries and other relevant taxes due to the State; hence failed to comply with the provisions of relevant tax laws.”

The Notices add that the organizations served have seven days to comply else the Board will take legal actions at the expiration of the seven days’ notice.

The Executive Director, Enforcement and Recovery of the Board, Mr Leo Umana who led the AKIRS team to issue the notices of default and none compliance to the defaulters said the business outfits of which notices are served are tax defaulters who have deducted taxes from their employees but refuse to remit to the State Government.

He said the board is poised on recovering to the State coffers taxes which have accumulated to billions of naira.

According to him, “We engaged a consultant to investigate tax liabilities. So it was the investigation that revealed that these companies have been under-paying. We don’t want companies to cheat the government and we don’t want to cheat any taxpayer.”

“Our consultant said Mobil was owing about N53billion but during reconciliation, it was resolved to N24.5billion, Mobil was part of the reconciliation. After then, we have been meeting with them but it has not produced result. They have been playing hide and seek, we have asked them to produce document of payment if they say they are not owing but they have not done so, so they have not disputed our figures.”

Umana said the notice was served on the organisations after exhausting all negotiations. “We have had series of meetings with their representatives, and we have exhausted all avenues of discussion and negotiation; so the notice today (Tuesday) is just a warning.”

The Executive Director, Enforcement and Recovery of the Board appealed on tax defaulters not to delay in visiting the AKIRS office to remit their taxes and ask questions on issues they do not understand.

AKIRS team, according to him, will continue to carry out enforcement drive in the state in line with international best practices.

ExxonMobil was yet to react to AKIRS’ demand notice.

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