The Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, says it is battling against unscrupulous individuals hiding under its cover to extort money from businesses and residents under the guise of tax collection. The Chief Revenue Officer of AMAC, Hon. Danlami Awaje disclosed this while responding to allegations first published by the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, that the activities of some of the council officials are having negative impacts on businesses in Abuja.
He was speaking on PUBLIC CONSCIENCE on RADIO, the anti-corruption radio program produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Awaje, who alluded that the tales of taxation fraud in AMAC has been a recurring issue, however, revealed that AMAC has set up a task force team moving round to fish out individuals who pose as AMAC officials to defraud the unsuspecting Abuja business owners and residents through taxes and levies.
His words: “AMAC has set up a task force that is moving around, checking and looking out for individuals who are not AMAC staff but are extorting and collecting revenue from business owners and residents.
“Following outcry from the public, the council also disbanded a group set up to bring sanity on the roads but were now harassing and extorting money from car owners on the road.”
Awaje warned that AMAC does not give out personal bank account numbers when collecting taxes but uses the government-approved platform ‘REMITA’ in order to promote accountability.
He stressed that: “AMAC’s revenue officers who go out to collect revenues undergo training and retraining from time to time, we have REMITA platform where we ask all our taxpayers to pay into, generate RRR, pay through REMITA, come with the evidence of payment and obtain official receipt from our office.”
He revealed that AMAC is mandated by the constitution to collect no fewer than 21 different taxes from business owners in Abuja annually while urging taxpayers in Abuja to be conscious of who approaches them to collect taxes.
On her part, an Abuja-based food vendor identified as Chef Nneka whose business has been affected by the arbitrary taxes decried the lack of impact in the form of infrastructure despite the numerous taxes collected by the AMAC administration.
“I pay my own taxes in January because if you don’t pay they will keep harassing you until you pay, but they (AMAC) are not doing anything for us.
“In a year, I pay for bikes, health, environment, business premises, outdoor signage, radio, and television licenses and it goes on and on. And just yesterday I was served another paper to pay three hundred thousand Naira for gas emission,” She lamented.
Earlier, senior lecturer of Law, Base University, Dr. Sam Amadi explained that people living in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) risk paying multiple taxes because most of the taxes that apply for federal workers also apply for people working under FCT.
Dr. Sam Amadi cautioned that FCT is going to have problems dealing with navigating between federal taxation and that of the councils.
“Now think in terms of Julius Berger you will be shocked that maybe it might not be paying anything to the area council but might be paying directly to the federal government and because there is no capacity to compel them the council will leave them and go to the small or micro-enterprises and overtax them”, He said
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
This project is supported by MacArthur Foundation.