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Igbo traders appeal against KWIRS, take tax dispute to court

By Ahmed Ajikobi

The Kwara State Igbo Traders Association has taken action against the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) by filing an appeal over allegations of tax evasion.

In a telephone interview with National Pilot, Igbo Zonal Chairman and Coordinating Chairman for the Task Force on Tax Issues, Mr. Aloysius Nwora, announced that the association has filed a motion at the revenue court to appeal against the KWIRS judgment to lock up their shops.

Nwora explained that the KWIRS had sent a letter threatening to lock up the shops of Igbo traders, prompting the association to seek legal redress.

“We the Igbo traders too decided, to compel the chamber of our lawyer to go to court and filed a motion at revenue court to appeal for against the judgement of KW-IRS.

“By doing that, they are fighting the law of the land. If they go ahead illegally to locked up the shop, they are going against the law.”

Despite the appeal, the KWIRS lawyer rejected the court summons, leading to further threats of shop closure.

“We gave the KW-IRS the summons and the KW IRS lawyer rejected the summon of the court. And they are threatening to move on with their actions.”

The association is urging KWIRS to come to court and defend their allegations legally, rather than resorting to threats and illegal actions.

“We have appeals to the court. If they feel they have case, they should come to the court and defend the allegation. While are they going through the back door. Why do they obtain experte to lock our shops without hearing from us?

“The court summon them, they refuse to entertain the summon. Our appeal came out at about 1:45pm on Friday. But arrogantly, the KW IRS decided to shun the summon and said they close the will of our member shops by Monday morning.

He said the Igbo traders are contesting the tax amount demanded by KWIRS, stating that they have receipts to prove they have paid their taxes and are not in arrears.

“They said, the shop owners should pay. One of them is going to pay N9.3m, and they said the shop owner should pay half of the money which is N4.6m between Now and Monday or else, they are going to lock the shop again. The money they are claiming is arrears which our members are not owing the KW IRS. We have all our receipts, we paid our tax.”

Nwora also criticized the revenue court for issuing a judgment without fair hearing and jurisdiction, asserting that only the high court has the authority to make such decisions.

“ The only court that has the power is the high court.”


The Clamp down 

On Friday March 1st 2024, traders under the aegis of Igbo traders association in Kwara state hurriedly closed up their shops and business outfits following a clamp down on tax defaulters by the Kwara State Internal revenue agencies KWIRS .

The traders were protesting the sealing of some prominent shops by a revenue mobile court over alledge default in tax payment.

The revenue agency had constituted a mobile court to try tax defaulters but before the mobil court could convict as many as possible, the remaining traders hurriedly closed up their shops for business .

The traders under the aegis of the Igbo traders association directed it members especially in places such as Taiwo, Agaka, Baboko, Ita-Amodu and other areas where there are heavy concentration of Igbos within Ilorin metropolis to shut down business activities over closure of some of the shops of their members in Ilorin.

Chuppet, one of the cities’ oldest stores, Ejide and Top Biz proprietors were among the shops sealed by KWIRS over over Personal Income Tax.

Our correspondent who monitored the development reported that many customers were caught unware as the traders and business men were stranded in such locations as Oko Erin, Ibrahim Taiwo Road and General Hospital area, among other places in the state capital.

The Igbo traders said that the revenue agency stormed their shopping complexes at about 10:00 am with revenue mobile court to prosecute them and lock up their business premises without being represented.

The people, who said that they are not indebted to the revenue agency, added that they are up to date in payment of their taxes and rates, describing action of the revenue agency as unfair.

Ethnic agenda

And while kwarans were awaiting the resolve of the traders and government face off, a new twist was however introduced to the narration weekend as some persons within the folds of the association alledged ethnic agenda in the matter.

The proponent of this thought accused the KWIRS of acting a script to frustrate the businesses of the igbo traders as a fall-out of their role in the 2023 elections.

On another hand, some persons also accused the leaders of the Igbo traders of executing a plot by the Igbos to ground the nation’s economy to a collapse for denying them the opportunity to be President in 2023 elections.

Tax Law 

While the accusations and counter accusations lasted , the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, KW-IRS Monday declared that its efforts at ensuring tax compliance in the state is totally devoid of any ethnic motive.

It described those peddling such claims as mischief makers who do not mean well for the government of Kwara state under the leadership of governor

A statement by the legal unit of the service debunked the claims of ethnic motive in the discharge of the statutory duties of KW-IRS

The Service reiterated that tax assessment and payment by groups or associations is not acceptable by law as already published by the Service on all its social media platforms on 9th of May, 2023.


In a related development, a leading Pro-Democracy group, Kwara Must Change has cautioned Igbo traders in Ilorin, against weaponizing ethnicity in their dispute with state authorities over enforcement of tax laws in the state.

The group said that, turning dispute over tax liability into ethnic protest is the height of insensitivity by the igbo traders association and an attempt to blackmail the Kwara State government.

In a statement by the Convener of Kwara Must Change, Abdulrazaq Hamzat, the group said that tax laws in Kwara state are enforced on all businesses in the state, not on the basis of tribe, sex or religion, but on the basis of business and volume of transactions and turning tax related dispute into ethnic protest is the height of insensitivity.

According to Hamzat, businesses making money in the state should pay their fair share of taxes, so that they can hold the government accountable to its responsibilities.

“All businesses in the state are benefiting from infrastructure and enabling environment provided by the state and it is improper to attempt to scandalize the state government through malicious ethnic protest, in an attempt to evade tax or shortchange government”.

Hamzat explained that, tax underpayment amounts to shortchanging the government and by extension, the people of Kwara state and this will affect the pace of development in the state.

He admonished the traders to operate within the ambit of the state law to seek redress over any tax related dispute, rather than resort to unnecessary ethnic blackmail, saying group solidarity will not erase individual tax liabilities.

“Traders associations don’t owe taxes, neither can they dictate tax liabilities of their members, individual businesses are taxed based on law and if the state authorities says certain businesses are owing taxes, those businesses should engage the authority inline with laid down rules and regulations, not create their own rule and attempt to coerce the authority into succumbing to their dictate through ethnic blackmail”. He concluded.

Igbo traders kicks 

In another narration, the leadership of the Igbo traders association had said that the recent disagreement between the revenue agency and traders was prompted by the decision of the revenue service to start collection of tax from individual members against existing agreement with the agency to get the tax collectively.

The first vice president, Igbo traders association, Chief Nathaniel Nwogu, who led other leaders and members of the association to the revenue court premises and state house of assembly to register their grievance, said there was an existing agreement between the traders association and revenue agency on gow they remit their taxes.

Existing agreement.

According to him , “For years, we’ve had this arrangement with the state tax office to be collecting our taxes collectively and submit to them. In that way, we as a union have been able to identify our members who do not even have shops, or those who are three or four in a shop, and submit to the tax office.

“Once we submit that money, the tax office would issue receipts based on individual names we submit to them. The taxes are in categories of N7,000, N14,000, N25000, N45,000 like that annually.

“This continued until last year when our members started to receive letters individually and demanding for another tax ranging from N700,000, N1.5 million etc. Most of the people written to had already paid with their receipts from tax office. Some of us have tax clearance certificate in three years interval.

“When they tell staff of the tax office that they had paid. The staff told them to subtract what they’ve paid before from the new bill they gave us, thereby calculating like tax of previous 10 years of outrageous sums like N10 million, N15 million etc.

“We went with our lawyers to explain to them that we’re only owing 2023 tax which is supposed to be paid November last year based on our agreement with them, and which we’re already gathering because we closed our meeting November and opened February this year.

“Unfortunately, they wrote our members to pay N9.7 million within three days, threatening that failure to do so, they’ll bring mobile court, judge him and prosecute him in his shop. Most of the owners of the affected shops are not even around. They refused to listen to plea by shop assistants, locked up the shops. That’s why all members locked all their shops in solidarity to say we’re not okay with the verdict passed by the court.

“There is a special court for tax and not mobile court. We even have cases there”, he said.

Nwogwu said some of the business premises locked up deal in perishable goods.

He however suggested a roundtable discussion among representatives of the revenue agency, the state government and the leadership of the Igbo traders association for amicable solution, saying that there would not be business growth and development in any unfriendly environment.

KWIRS faults traders claims 

Responding to the allegations, the corporate affairs department of the KWIRS, on behalf of the executive chairman, Shade Omoniyi, said that the revenue agency conducted the mobile court on Friday to prosecute recalcitrant tax payers in the state to ensure tax compliance.

“As part of efforts to ensure tax compliance by residents and business owners in Kwara State, Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KW-IRS), today Friday, 1st March, 2024 conducted a mobile court within some business premises in Ilorin to prosecute three recalcitrant high net worth business owners who hide under associations to pay lesser taxes than what is due.

“Having exhausted all necessary measures to ensure that taxpayers remit the appropriate taxes due to the state government without any positive results, KW-IRS resorted to enforcement on the recalcitrant taxpayers in the early hours of Friday as provided under the relevant State Law.

“Speaking during the legal action at their respective business premises, the magistrate pronounced that the business facilities be sealed following the evidence before the mobile court that the accused taxpayers defaulted in exercising their civic obligations.

“Taxpayers are enjoined to pay their tax liabilities as and when due to avoid being caught on the wrong side of the law.”

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