The Gombe State Internal Revenue Service (GIRS) has sealed off two branches of Access Bank Plc., in Gombe metropolis over non-remittance of over N118.05 million Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE).
The Service media team reports that the bank branches, located along Biu Road and that of Market Road were sealed-off in the early hours of Monday, February 14, 2022.
Mal. Abubakar Inuwa Tata, the Executive Chairman who personally led the enforcement team comprising the Executive Director, Other Revenue and Head, Legal Department told newsmen shortly after the exercise that Access Bank branches would remain closed till the bank pays all tax liabilities to Gombe State Government.
“The Service conducted an investigation over PAYE remittances of the then Diamond Bank Plc which was acquired by Access Bank Plc sometime in October 2019 and came of with a liability of about N118,045,098.20 against Access Bank Plc and a demand notice was written and served in that regard sometimes on the 27th January 2020.
“The Bank blatantly refused to either object or reply to the said demand notice, on the 28th February 2020, the Service wrote and served its final and conclusive letter on the said Bank.
“The Bank later rushed to Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) Bauchi and filed a petition sometime on the 4th March 2020, which the Service through its legal representatives filed and served their reply sometime on the 19th March 2020. Both parties each call one witness and closed their case. Addresses were filed and served.”
The appeal was heard and determined, and judgment passed in favour of the Service by dismissing the Bank’s appeal No.TAT/NEZ/005/M/2020 on the 10th February 2022.
“Having passed the judgement, and there is no appeal against the said judgment up to this moment, the Service decided to obtain a distrain order in accordance with s.38 of Gombe State Revenue (Codification and Consolidation) Law, 2021 for enforcement of the said demand and recover the said sum of N118,045,098.20 owed to the Government of Gombe State by Access Bank.
The Executive Chairman advised all corporate entities, including professional bodies operating in the state to come forward and settle all tax-related issues with the government or risk being sealed off.
“We are going to be fair and just to all taxpayers, but we will remain firm and decisive in ensuring that all taxpayers pay what is due to the state government,” he said.
“We have experienced lots of challenges in 2020 and 2021 due to lack of effective legal framework for the enforcement of the law to tax defaulters, which necessitated the review of Gombe State Revenue Law in 2021 which further empower the State Chief Judge to constitutes “Tax Recovery Tribunal” for adjudication on tax matters. This would go a long way in ensuring compliance by tax-paying entities.”
While the Service is open to reconciliation through Tax Audit Reconciliation Committee (TARC) meeting, we would not hesitate to seal off any business establishment and corporate organization that was not willing to pay taxes to the state, the Chairman concluded.
Access Bank has yet to release a statement regarding the matter as at the time of filling this report.