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As Tax Payers Rejoice Over Wike’s Tax Relief: Council Chairmen Defy Order – Sources

As tax payers in Rivers State rejoice over the tax relief and incentives granted them by Governor Nyesom Wike to cushion the hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, investigations have revealed that some local government council Chairmen are unhappy with the development which apparently shut them out from carrying on excessive tax collections.

Some Local Government Chairmen, according to a source who pleaded anonymity, risk suspension and may go the way of Hon. Victor Ihunwo, the Chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area and some top officials of Abua Odual local government Council who were suspended on Thursday by GovernorWike for collecting what the state deemed illegal taxes.

The Brick House, according to our source is not leaving any stone unturned and has reportedly beamed its searchlight on the remaining Councils for more scapegoats.

The source who hailed from one of the LGAs in the Rivers East Senatorial District, told National Network that the tax relief package which was announced by the governor through the Executive Director of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Mr. Adoage Norteh on Wednesday, did not go down well with the Local Government Chairmen said to be already adapted to the ‘system’.

He noted that the ‘system’ which the Council Chairmen were used to is, in his words, ‘like a cancer that is almost impossible to eradicate’.

“It came as a rude shock to them because they weren’t anticipating such executive order.  It is a killjoy. It’s like ‘putting sand in their garri’ as they are used to collecting both legal and illegal levies from residents and those doing business in the LGA.

Worst hit, according to investigations are the transport sector where some local government councils are still selling tickets to tricycle and okada operators. Even markets at some rural communities are tasked to pay unreceipted levies through third parties.

However, National Network reached out to some councils to get reactions and readiness to comply with the governor’s directive on the tax relief.

The Chief Press Secretary of Ikwerre Local Government Area, Mr. Chris Omodu said the governor’s directive was explicit and not cumbersome, adding that the council would only collect tenement rates as instructed by Governor Wike.

“Tenement rates include fencing permits and that’s what we are permitted to collect.  We are not collecting any levy from transporters and markets”, he said.

Similarly, Chief Press Secretary of Gokana Local Government, Mr. Maxwell Dukori said the council does not operate any informal tax system and assured that the governor’s directive would be applied to the letter.

Meanwhile, the governor’s tax relief/ incentives package was greeted with appreciation from tax payers especially artisans and small business operators in the state.

A shop owner in Rumuchika Street, Elioparanwo in Obio Akpor Local Government Area, Mrs. Adline Ebrika described the gesture as one of the best things to happen to the business community, and commended Governor Wike for his good heart.

She said her business suffered immensely as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown as her family had to eat up the little capital, she uses to run her shop.

“It had been endless struggles ever since but this palliative is worth millions to me.  The Obio Akpor local government should now go and rest with the numerous levies coming from left and right.  May God bless Governor Wike for putting smiles once more on our faces”, she intoned.

Mr. Kelvin Otikpo who runs a motor mechanic garage in Ahoada Town also expressed appreciation to the governor over the tax relief package.  He however urged the governor to assist private school owners and teachers who had been out of work for the past five months.

“My wife runs a private primary and secondary school in Ahoada.  We have been surviving from the little I make from my workshop but my heart goes to her workers especially the teachers.  I appeal to our golden governor to assist these teachers and the school owners with some stipend to cushion the effect of the Covid-19”, he said.

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