Banks threaten to shutdown operations in Imo

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Gov. Rochas Okorocha
Gov. Rochas Okorocha

Commercial banks operating in Imo State are threatening to close shop if government and its agents fail no stop the harassment, which has engineered the face-off currently raging between them.

The feud between government and the management of the commercial banks arose from the alleged non-payment of certain fees and charges by the banks.

Government is alleging that the banks are not remitting withholding taxes they collected to the Board of Internal Revenue, but the management of the commercial banks vehemently denied it.

The banks are rather protesting what they termed “sundry exorbitant taxes and levies slammed on us by the Board of Internal Revenue”.

Some of the bank executives, who spoke under anonymity lamented that the charges ranging between N250 million to over N650 million was affecting their operation.

“Apart from being a blatant lie, these demands are arbitrary and possibly designed by some people in the system to defraud the banks”, a bank executive told our correspondent.

While insisting that none of the banks is in default of payment of any form of tax due to government, he urged government to feel free to come and painstakingly scrutinize their books with a view to resolving the issue.

“Instead of responding to this invitation, the state government went and secretly obtained a court order restraining some of us from discharging our duties to the citizenry”, the bank executive said.

He lamented that on the scheduled date for another meeting; BIR officials were absent and only said that “Government House had taken over the issue”.

Our correspondent however gathered that since the Governor and the State House of Assembly were yet to reply their letters, there are indications that the banks may opt to shut down on their own.

The Commissioner for Special Duties, Sir Jude Ejiogu, who doubles as the Chief of Staff, urged the banks to tell Imo people the truth.
According to Ejiogu, “some bank refused to pay their statutory taxes to government for reasons best known to them”.

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