Controversy has trailed the clash that broke out between a team of Federal Inland Revenue Service and the management of Aridolf Resort Wellness and Spa, believed to be owned by the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, on Wednesday.
The resort is located in the Okaka community of Yenagoa.
While the FIRS’ enforcement team claimed it was attacked by suspected militants lodging in the hotel, the Aridolf management said the FIRS team was confronted by hotel customers who were annoyed by the manner the team was carrying out its operations.
It was learnt that the FIRS team, led by Mr Chinazor Edeh, had arrived at the hotel with a warrant signed by the Chairman, FIRS, Mr Babatunde Fowler, to seal off the facility for an alleged non-remittance of Value Added Tax to the tune of over N10m, covering a period of 2014 and 2016.
It was gathered that when the team arrived at the hotel, Edeh read the content of the warrant to the facility’s officials even as he informed lodgers and customers about the intention to seal the facility.
An eyewitness, who accompanied the FIRS team to the operation, said, “Some militants in the hotel took over the whole place. They threatened to shoot every member of the FIRS team, claiming that the enforcement was illegal.
“‘When one of the directors of the hotel, Mr. Victor Oba, arrived at the scene, Edeh also briefed him of the action.
“Oba told the team that the hotel owes only three-months VAT and that the employees of the hotel have not been paid for a number of months because of payment errors.”
Giving further insight into the matter, the source said that when the FIRS team got to the hotel and demanded to see any senior official, the receptionist claimed that no senior official was around.
He said, “The receptionist insisted that no senior person was there and that she was the only one in the hotel. The next thing the lady did was to run away. After some minutes, the team leader went to the gym and asked people there to leave the place. When they came out, he locked the place and placed a seal indicating that the place was sealed off.
“By the time we came to the reception, we never knew that the receptionist had alerted people. The team wanted to go inside to ascertain if people were there. What happened next was a group of youths came. One of them met the team leader to enquire what the matter was.”
But Oba, a younger brother to Patience, faulted the claim of the FIRS team, saying there was no attack on the FIRS team.
Oba, who said Aridolf did not habour militants, claimed that it was the FIRS team that came and attacked the guests and lodgers of the hotel.
He stated, “There was no attack on FIRS team. Rather, it was the team that came and attacked our customers. I was out of the hotel. I got a call that people were there to shut down the hotel. They held our receptionist hostage, went into the gym, used armed men to push people out of the gym, locked up the gym, went into the hotel and started knocking at doors that guests should come out. Some were in the bathrooms.”
Commenting, the police commissioner, Amba, dismissed the allegations that the FIRS team was attacked by militants.
He said, “Thank God I was there personally, so, you are hearing from the horse’s mouth. It was a little breach of communication and procedures.
“The FIRS team came in to recover what they called VAT payment and when they came, the management staff were not around but some sympathisers and those that believed there was a political colouration to the FIRS visitation blocked the road.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Inland Revenue Service on Thursday sealed the headquarters of Alliance and General Insurance Company in Lagos, as well as Delta Transport Service and Grand Hotels in Asaba, Delta State.
Alliance and General Insurance, which has its headquarters on Abibu Oki Street, Lagos, was sealed by the FIRS enforcement team over its Company Income Tax debt of N2,413,055,386.69.
The team also shut MYD Telecoms Company Limited in Onikan, Lagos, which allegedly owed N26,247,856.50; as well as Brick and Cable Limited, Lagos Island, for allegedly having Value Added Tax and Company Income Tax liabilities of N155,460,310.22.
In Asaba, the capital of Delta State, the FIRS team sealed the offices of the Delta Transport Service Limited and Grand Hotels Limited.
The leader of the enforcement team, Mrs. Ruth Mandeun, said the companies ignored notices sent to them and failed to take advantage of the one-month window offered by the FIRS for them to pay uo.
Delta Transport Service, according to the FIRS, owes N243,146,108, while Grand Hotels has liabilities of N14,402,762.75.
In Owerri, Imo State, the FIRS shut Macol Construction Company Limited over a tax debt of N2,938,069. 37; First Eye Resources Nigeria Limited, which allegedly owes N6,844,099.46; and Boko Nigeria Limited, said to be indebted to the tune of N250,000.
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