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FIRS shuts Lafarge office in PH, IGPES facility for tax defaults

As parts of renewed efforts to deepen tax collection, stern-looking enforcement officers from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Abuja stormed Rivers State yestderday and sealed off Lafarge in Onne and IGPES in Port Harcourt for alleged tax evasion.

The officers explained that the cement company was sealed for allegedly failing to pay over N10m in taxes; IGPES, an engineering firm, was shut for allegedly evading tax to the tune N1.2bn. FIRS team stated that while IGPES began to default in the remittance of taxes in 2011, Lafarge had not paid taxes since 2012.

Addressing reporters during the raids, leader of the FIRS team, Mrs. Ruth Mandeun, warned their managements to pay the outstanding taxes to allow for the reopening of the firms.

She further advised managements of the companies not to forcefully open the seals and padlocks used in locking up the premises.

She listed some of the taxes upon which the actions were taken to include non-remittance of their Value Added Tax, Company Income Tax, Withholding Tax, Education Tax and late return penalty.

According to “Breaking of our seals is a criminal offence and anybody involved in such act will be prosecuted for that act alone. It is either you pay every kobo you owe or we seal your premises. We have the mandate to do that.

“The purpose of this exercise is to seal off the entire offices of offending companies. If you are willing to pay within the next one hour, then you will be allowed to operate.”

Efforts to speak to Lafarge media department yesterday failed.