Abia Government Denies Sealing Of EEDC Offices
This is to let the general public and Abians in particular, to know that the sealing of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) formerly Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) offices in the state was a judicial matter caused by the refusal of the EEDC to remit all Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes deducted from its workers salaries.
The Abia State Board of Internal Revenue BIR, whose statutory responsibility it is to handle taxation matters in the state audited the EEDC and from 2006 till date the EEDC has a PAYE Tax liability of Six Hundred and Twenty Three Million Naira ( 623 Million) which has been duly communicated to all relevant authorities including the Federal Ministry of power. However, the judgment debt from 2006 to 2011 as allowed by the extant laws and established a tax liability is four hundred and seventeen million, (N417million) naira against the EEDC and it was for this that demand notices were served on the company which it refused to pay.
The company was taken to court by the State Board of Internal Revenue BIR, as has been the case with other organizations. The High Court granted the Board an Order to seal their offices in order to recover the said amount.
On the 23rd of November 2013, the BIR attempted to seal the EEDC (PHCN) then, but it used the military and the police to resist the sealing.
However, the company came to a meeting with the BIR on the 5thof December 2013 and it was resolved that the Board should grant the EEDC two weeks from the 5th of December 2013 to enable it to liaise with the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company for the payment of the outstanding liability.
The EEDC further asked for the 20th January 2014 as the date for the payment of the liability failure which the law will take its course, but, in an apparent display of bad faith, the EEDC went behind to file a suit in the High Court for Stay of Execution Order.
The Board of Internal Revenue followed the EEDC to court and it was not until the 2nd of October 2014, when the court rejected the request of EEDC for a stay of execution of the earlier order that BIR moved to enforce the court order, hence the sealing of the EEDC on the 9th of October 2014.
The Abia State Government, wishes to state that it has no hand in this obviously legal matter as the BIR is a statutory body with extant responsibilities and rights. We would rather advice the EEDC to act as other responsible corporate citizen and pay its taxes or alternatively act in good faith and approach the BIR for amicable resolution of the issue in the interest of our citizens.
Abia citizens will bear witness that this is not the first time an organization was sealed by the BIR for non remittance of PAYE taxes and this shall not be the last.
However, based on solemn promises made by EEDC Board and management His Excellency, Governor T.A. Orji has magnanimously waded in and directed that BIR suspend the sealing of EEDC premises in the state to avoid any hardship such legal tussle may cause Abia citizens and other residents. The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) is advised to reciprocate this gesture by expeditiously pay-off its outstanding debt with the BIR as promised to avoid further embarrassment.
Dr. Eze Chikamnayo
Commissioner for Information
& Strategy, Abia State.