Kwara Igbo Traders breaks silence on issues with KWiRS, Implore Gov AbdulRazaq to intervene


Members of the Kwara Igbo Traders Association (KWAITA) on Wednesday broke silence on issues with the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service that led to the shutting down of their business in Ilorin the state capital,

In a press statement signed by Festus C. Ezenwobi General Secretary (KWAITA) and obtained by Just Event Online TV on Wednesday

Text of press statement by members of the Kwara Igbo Traders Association (KWAITA), on the current disagreement with KWIRS and consequent shutdown of Igbo businesses in Ilorin

We the entire members of Kwara Igbo Traders Association (KWAITA), wish to explain our side of the ongoing disagreement between us and the Kwara Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS).

It is necessary to recall that our members have been paying taxes, not as a group, but as individuals through the Kwara Igbo Traders Association (KWAITA).

This arrangement started at the establishment of KWIRS in 2015 when they invited our leaders and sought out cooperation in the remittances of tax (Personal Income Tax, PIT) from our members.

Since 2015, we had an agreement to ensure that our people make themselves available for the payment of their taxes by the service and placed them in different categories of tax remittances for onward payment.

We have always encouraged our members to pay. When they do so, we help remit the money, PIT.

This arrangement continued till last year when we received a letter from KWIRS that our cooperation/services were no longer needed.

The service said that they intend, henceforth to engage individuals directly without a middle party or trade association.

KWAITA as an association has no issue, whatsoever, with the new arrangement as demanded by KWIRS.

It is on record that we have always encouraged our members to show cooperation in tax remittance. To wit, we were applauded and given an honourary plaque in 2018 as a Responsive association by KWIRS.

But it is important to note at this point that all our members have paid their tax (PIT) individually from 2015 to date and were issued with Kwara state revenue receipts for PIT individually after due assessment.

We have documents to back this up and we also state that nowhere in the said document we are told that we owed any tax obligation in arrears,

To our surprise, the KWIRS started writing to our members with new assessments, insisting that we owe PIT arrears from 2016 to date, years under which KWAITA helped in tax remittances.

In those years, KWIRS found our service valuable and was awarded 10 per cent of remittances as a tax agent.

We have approached the service on many occasions trying to make them understand that our members are not owing but to no avail.

So far KWIRS has insisted that the law permits them to re-access any taxpayer as far back as seven years or more and enforce payment despite the payments for those years. We believe that the law frowns on double taxation.

We have not found any references for any such law.

What we are familiar with, and which our legal representative has presented were extant laws of the State House of Assembly as enacted in 2015 and 2020 respectively; that is Kwara State Revenue Administration Law, No. 6 of 2015 (as amended) and Kwara State Consolidated Revenue Codes and Rates Regulations, 2020.

We had pleaded that KWIRS work within the scope of the said law.

We woke up on Ist March 2024 to see the KWIRS bring Mobile Court to the shops of two of our members and Carry out the trial in the absence of our members.

Our members were not given any notifications to the effect.

Consequently, they sealed their shops immediately. This was the cause of the 1% March 2024 shop closure of our members in Taiwo Road, Ilorin, Kwara State.

The Chief of Staff and SSA, in the absence of HE, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, didn’t hesitate but waded into the matter to help find a resolution. Both officers encouraged us to dialogue.

A truce was reached as two of our members were asked to pay a commitment amount of N250,000 each, while KWIRS wrote the revenue Court to vacate their order and unseal the shops.

We were set to have a final talk on 15th March 2024. But the next morning, the KWIRS wrote us unexpectedly deviating from the peace arrangement as initiated by the Chief of Staff and SSA to the Governor.

KWIRS insisted that:

1. KWAITA as represented at the peace meeting with the Chief of Staff are not allowed in the 15″ March 2024 meeting as agreed.

2. That the two persons directly involved should come only with their lawyer or tax consultant.

3. That the two individuals should come with their business bank statement of account from 2016 to date.

Their personal bank statement from 2016 to date. Their wife’s bank statement of account from 2016 to date Their B.V.N. and that of their wife’s.

And finally, without any of those requirements, the said meeting won’t hold. Given the tone of the said letter, we understood that KWIRS is not open for deliberation or dialogue.

Nevertheless, our two members were prepared with the lawyer for the meeting until when it became obvious that our counsel couldn’t make it that morning.

The lawyer wrote to KWIRS and sought a new date of either 21% or 22°¢ March 2024 when he will be around.

Within an hour we got a letter of rejection from KWIRS and a threat to seal up the shops the second time by 2:00 pm of the same day, the 15″ of March 2024, if the two individuals involved failed to pay at least 50% of the purported arrears.

This prompted our lawyer to apply the Order sealing the shops to be vacated for lack of jurisdiction.

But KWIRS rejected the summon from the Court’s Bailiff. The bailiff went to court and swore to an affidavit of rejection.

We were reliably informed that KWIRS requested the Bailiff of the Court for assistance for the resealing of the shops but they refused given the subsisting applications that are pending before the Court.

Based on this, the KWIRS requested for reload order of the vacated execution of mobile Court judgment on 1% March 2024.

They also went ahead to seal 00 amour two shops by S. 00 am with one police van and three KWIRS cars astaffreby locked up two staffs who slept in one of the shops up till this moment.

Given the foregoing, KWAITA reiterates that:

1. That we are not opposed to direct assessment of our members by the KWIRS as being alleged in the media.

2. ‘That we are not in any way insisting on paying our tax through the union and against the new directives of the KWIRS as being alleged in the media.

3. That we have told KWIRS even in the presence of the chief of staff to go about their duties of accessing and collecting tax directly 4
from our members according to the enacted law in the state of 2015 and in amended 2020.

4. | That our members have individually paid all their previous taxes up to 2022 and have evidence of the receipt.

5. | That our members who paid and have their PIT receipt without indication of any arrears on the tax receipt shouldn’t be taxed retroactively.

We state clearly that the point of argument is arbitrary retroactive taxation that has no basis in the state tax law and not in conformity laws of natural justice.

We are also using the medium to call on His Excellency, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, to come to our aid.

KWAITA has been law-abiding lawing, cooped rating with our host community and has paid our tax obligations.

We plead with His Excellency, the Executive Governor to urgently prevail on KWIRS who were bent on taxing us unfairly.

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