By Edem Edem, Calabar
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Cross River State has sealed all branches of First Bank in Cross River over tax defaults.
The sealing which took place on Wednesday, DAILY NEWS gathered was at the instance of a Special Court (Revenue) order in Cross River State.
In a Suit No: MSC. NO. HC/SCT/MSC/BIR/02/2019 between the Applicant (Cross River State Board of Internal Revenue) and the First Bank of Nigeria Plc the court order the sealing of the Bank.
The bank was said to have owed the Cross River State Government accumulated tax revenue of over 211 Million Naira from 2005 to 2010.
The order was signed by the Chief Judge of Cross River State, Justice Michael Edem and Ekpo E. Archibong, the Chief Litigation Officer.
The ORDER stated that the Motion Ex-parte was filed and dated the 25th day of September, 2019 in pursuant to the Provision of Section 104 of the Cross River State Revenue Administration Law 2011.
The court ordered that the bank’s goods, Chattels lands, premises, bonds and securities be seized for non-payment of N211, 094, 450.00 (Two Hundred and Eleven Million, Ninety-Four Thousand, Four Hundred and Fifty Naira).
The amount was the outstanding tax liability which suppose to have been paid by the Bank in the state under the back duty Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) deductions, Business premises, Development levy and Withholding tax (Excluding Interest), liabilities for the period 2005-2010.
Patience Vouda Egwu, Esquire, the Head Enforcement and Monitoring Unit of the Cross River State Internal Revenue Service was the duly authorised person to execute the warrant against the Bank for non-payment of the amount.
The court further stated, that the First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Calabar being the Distrainee shall pay the outstanding tax liability amount of N211, 094, 450 into Cross River State Revenue Account, using Code: 1203000000/401007F and the sum of N100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) only is being awarded as cost
The order dated 3rd day of October 2019 and 20 branches of the bank in Cross River State were affected with Calabar having over 12 branches. Sadly, customers who visited various branches were stranded as the red ribbons were used in sealing the bank and the Court order pasted all over the premises prevented them from assessing their money.
A customer who gave her name as Mary while speaking with our Correspondent said, “I just arrived now to deposit money and I discovered the place was sealed and locked. I don’t know what to do because I don’t want to carry this money back – it is dangerous following the period we’re in”. Another customer who did not give his name said, “I came here to withdraw money to buy things from the Watt Market for my shop, only to find out that the bank is sealed, I don’t know what to do. I tried using the ATM, but it was sealed too.
“I am running out of stock. If this is true, a big bank like First Bank should not be owing tax in any form.” Efforts to speak with the General Manager of the Bank proved abortive as no one was allowed into the bank premises.
Security personnel at the gate of one of the branches told our Correspondent that, “As I came to work this morning I saw the people from the CRSIRS sealing the office. I don’t know what is going on and our main oga has gone out too”.