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TAX EVASION: COURT ORDERS ARREST OF HOTEL DIRECTORS OVER N44.10M

By NBF News
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For refusing to appear before the court on three different occasions over unpaid N44.10 million tax owed the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan yesterday ordered the arrest of four directors of the D'Rovans International Hotel in Ibadan.

The four accused persons, Francis Aiyegbeni, Dennis Aiyegbeni, Armstrong Aiyegbeni and Royce Aiyegbeni are being prosecuted on a four-count charge of non-payment of Company's Income Tax of N11, 416,338 and non-remittance of Education Tax on staff training totaling N756,800, failure to remit Value Added Tax totaling N31,930,909) and Evasion of Tax.

The presiding Judge, Justice Jonathan Shakarho, while granting the prayer of the FIRS counsel, Mr Ade Martins during yesterday's sitting said it was very disappointing that the directors had decided to shun the court, even when it became obvious that their presence in court was very important.

Counsel to the accused persons, Mr C.O. Ojei had earlier begged the court against the issuance of the bench warrant against the accused persons while promising that they would appear before the court at the next sitting.

Ojei explained that he was already negotiating with FIRS for out of court settlement of the matter before yesterday's sitting.

A visibly angry Shakarho declared: 'I hereby grant the bench warrant. Arrest all the accused persons and bring them here. If you like, you can appeal against it. You asked me to call up your case, yet your clients are absent.'

Speaking with journalists, Martins, FIRS counsel said the case was a criminal case and that there was no need for any out of court settlement.

He expressed satisfaction with the issuance of the bench warrant, adding that the only way to discuss with the prosecution was for D'Rovans Hotel to pay the taxes it owed FIRS.

'This is a new era in the country. People should realize that the government is serious about tax payment. Once they know they can go to jail for tax evasion, they will pay,' Martins said.

Ojei, in his reaction said he was not happy with the court order.

He said he had expected the judge to listen to his plea and promised to bring the accused persons to court.