In continuation of its efforts to recover unpaid taxes, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), yesterday, sealed the offices of Costain West Africa over N2billion in company income tax, Value Added Tax (VAT) and other taxes.
Also sealed were First Deepwater Discovery Limited, CAT Construction Group Limited and OPI International Limited, all in Lagos.
First Deepwater Discovery Limited, located at 20, Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, has tax liabilities of N230million, made up of withholding tax, education tax and VAT. CAT Construction Group Limited, located at 20C Ogunlewe Street, off Ligali Ayorinde Street, Victoria Island, is owing N176million in taxes. OPI International Limited, located at UBA House, Marina, is also owing N3 million in company income tax and VAT.
A top management staff of OPI pleaded with the enforcement team to grant the company an extension of the grace period for the resolution of its tax liabilities.
However, Anita Erinne, leader of the FIRS enforcement team, ignored pleas and ordered the office sealed after she had ordered the staff out of the office.
“I have to carry out the directive as I have been directed,” Erinne said.
The FIRS team arrived Costain West Africa Plc’s office, located at 174 Funso Williams Avenue, off Apapa/Oshodi Expressway at about 1pm. About half an hour later, the company was sealed.
A top official of the company told the team that the company’s chairman was not available to attend to the team. The official also claimed the company has already started discussions with the FIRS on how to defray its tax liabilities, something Erinne said she was unaware of.
In Onitsha, Anambra State, the FIRS team shut down four business premises. At the Building Materials International Market, Ogbunike, the team closed down the offices of Shoelz International Limited over a tax debt of N32million. Also affected by the enforcement exercise was Midfield West Africa Limited, which defaulted on a tax obligation of N11million. Felixo International Hotel Limited in Oba was sealed for owing taxes totalling N15million.
Also in Onitsha, Ekwenibe and Sons Trading Company Limited was shut over a tax liability of N78million. Mr. Chibuzor Edeh, leader of the enforcement team in Onitsha, said all the affected companies were served several reminders, which they ignored, leaving the FIRS without an option but enforcement.
The renewed crackdown on tax defaulters began on Monday, when FIRS enforcement teams shut the premises of four companies in Lagos and Owerri, Imo State. In Lagos, Capital Oil Plc had its offices shut over a tax debt of N30million. In Owerri, the FIRS sealed two eateries and a hotel. The affected eateries were De Mange Eatery and City Chef, which owe N20million and N2.1million respectively.