Edo tax defaulters risk jail term, Oshiomhole warns

Rt Rev Peter Imasuen, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Edo State branch and Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State at the 2012 plenary session of Edo CAN in Benin City

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has warned that the state government will no longer treat tax defaulters with kid gloves, saying tax offenders in the state risk jail term.

The governor said while the poor and low-income people were willing to pay their tax, those who could easily afford to pay preferred to flout the tax law.

Comrade Oshiomhole gave the warning yesterday while speaking as Special Guest of Honour at the Plenary session of the Christian Association of Nigeria at the St. Mathews (Anglican) Cathedral, Benin City.

According to the Governor “in Edo State, we have tried to emphasise that we must re-invent the concept of tax. We must properly manage the taxpayers’ money. Today the University of Benin Teaching Hospital is on strike over the issue of tax. The tax issue is a Federal law not made by me.

“Those people who believe that because they are working in sensitive places is an excuse to evade tax need to rethink. If a sick person is brought to the hospital, the fact of his being sick does not preclude the person from paying for his treatment”.

He noted that he had, a couple of times, paid the hospital bills of indigent patients at UBTH who had been treated but were no discharged by the hospital on account of bills owed.

“If you can detain the poor on account of his being unable to pay for his treatment, who are you not to pay tax?

“We have also at one point sealed up the PHCN, the PPMC for tax evasion. If a motor mechanic pays his tax, Okada rider pays his tax, then there is no reason why a federal agency would think that because they come from Abuja, they would not pay their tax.

“It is very fashionable in Nigeria for people to spend N50 million on weddings, N100 million on birthdays and even much more to celebrate the dead, but for such persons to pay even five percent as tax, he is not ready to pay. In such a situation, it is better to send them to prison, just to remind them that the prison is not meant for only the poor; the prison is meant for those who break the criminal law,” he said.

Comrade Oshiomhole noted that fifty-two years after independence, the people are getting poorer, attributing this to the quality or absence of good governance.

“The state must create good environment for the people to operate. If the politicians try to divert attention the church must stand on the side of truth.

“In Edo State, we have tried our best, first to regain our self-confidence that Edo State is viable and we have made some modest efforts to halt the drift and restore hope. But what we have done is nothing compared to what we need to do to get to the level that we deserve”, Oshiomhole noted.

Earlier, the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria Edo State, Rt. Rev. Peter Imasuen said this year’s plenary session with theme: “Fostering Good Governance” is most appropriate.

According to him “Good governance is all about accountability and transparency. Despite increasing democracy and stability in sub-saharan Africa, corruption and conflict remain serious barriers of ending extreme poverty”.

He lamented that the nation’s multifarious woes are effects of bad governance over the years.




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