The Federal Inland Revenue Service has sealed off two oil services companies in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The affected firms, Cetco Oilfield Services Company, located in the Trans-Amadi area of the city, and Aquashield Oil and Marine Services Limited, according to the FIRS, have tax liabilities of N9.7m and N49m, respectively.
A statement by the FIRS noted that at Cetco Oilfield, the Procurement Manager, Edotimi Ebikefe, begged for more time to enable the company to pay up, explaining that it had already commenced the payment of its tax debt.
“We are not saying that we won’t pay. But the way things are right now, we find it difficult. Let them give us some time. If we don’t work, we cannot pay what we are owing,” he reportedly pleaded.
The leader of the FIRS team, Umar Gana, was quoted to have said the enforcement drive was necessary because of the indifference of some of the companies to tax payment, explaining that this had persisted despite many attempts to ensure compliance.
“Before this enforcement exercise, government had made a lot of entreaties to them, but they have repeatedly defaulted and we have no option but to do what we have just done,” he said.
Gana added that the sealing of the two companies would serve a deterrent to others, which were defaulting in tax payment, adding that until the outstanding amounts were paid, the firms would remain shut.
“I feel for the workers of those companies, but that does not mean we should not do what we need to do,” he added.
Gana took the opportunity to appeal to corporate organisations in the country to be responsible by paying their taxes, as this was an important way of assisting the government to develop the country.
On Tuesday, an enforcement team of the FIRS, led by Anita Erinne, shut the office of AMG Petroleum Energy Limited located at 41, Usuma Street, Maitama, Abuja.
According to the FIRS enforcement warrant, the company has a tax debt of N27.3m, with Erinne saying the company would remain shut until the tax liability was liquidated.