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Uproar in Rivers over supporty levy

Source: pointblanknews.com

CITIZENS and small-scale businesses in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State, are protesting against an imposition of a Development Support Levy on them.

The N5,000 levy is, however, coming on the heels of Governor Chibuike Amaechi's indictment of the local government council for failing to deliver tangible dividend of democracy to citizens in the area.

Before the current disturbing taxation, the council revenue agents had collected N5,000 as Development Levy, the same amount for Sanitation Fee, N4,000 for Sanitation Basket, and N5,000 as Business Permit.

For those who are able to bargain with the rampaging revenue agents, businesses often part with between N2,500 and N3,000 without receipts to show for it.

Mr. Elechi Ugochukwu, who claims to be the Co-ordinator of the Development Support Levy, and Mr. Good Lucky Ogbonia, who claims to be the council's Revenue Facilator said they were acting for the council Chairman.

But, in a demand notice dated June 18, 2010 with U.Y.A as as the Council's Reference, businesses were requested to call a cellphone with this number: 08038974347 to play ball.

The council is claiming that the development support levy is in pursuant to section 170 Law No.4 of 1980 Amended 1992, the Tax Board Decree of 1982.

For those who refuse to pay the levy, the revenue agents have threatened to impound and demolish their property.

Commenting, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, told AkanimoReports that the development support levy smells a rat.

According to the commissioner who reacted via a text message to our correspondent on Thursday, ''the Rivers State Government has not and did not instruct any local government to impose any levy. Right now, in a bid to stop the rampant multiple taxation, government is working on harmonising taxes in the state, and has directed that collection of all taxes should stop until further notice''.

Already, Governor Amaechi has expressed disappointment over the performance of the Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Council, Precious Oforji in delivering dividends of democracy to citizens.

The governor who spoke during a recent Town Hall meeting held at the Community Primary School, Obeama-Asa in the council area, said his anger with the chairman was basically on his inability to deliver quality projects to the people in spite of the funds available to him.

Amaechi noted that despite taking over the burden of funding of primary school education from the local councils, some of the council chairmen, including that of Oyigbo, have not justified the funds saved from the takeover of primary school by the state government.

According to the governor, ''Oyigbo chairman disobeyed an earlier directive given to him to construct a road to Umuagbai community, after he agreed to do same two years ago''. Amaechi who was visibly angry with the chairman, directed the Commissioner for Works to start the process of awarding the road contract to redeem his image before the Umuagbai people.

He regretted that in spite of this spate of events, Oforji did not show any remorse for not carrying out the directive which he had earlier agreed upon, and berated him for not being able to separate his friendship with him from his relationship with him as governance.

The governor has warned youths and community leaders to stay away from harassing businesses working in the area particularly around Saipem contracting firm, the company constructing the new Open Cycle Power Plant for the state government, as a law which stipulates three years imprisonment for such offences was now in place in the state.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Rivers Command, Mr. Suleiman Abba, says he has directed his men and officers to keep tap in the troubled council area in a bid to abort any security breach.