Benue revenue collectors cry out against constant police harassments
Benue State Government is said to have lost over N500 million damages as a result of continuous harassment of revenue agents by men of the Nigeria Police Force.
This revelation was made last week by the President, Revenue Consultants’ Forum, Chief John Akpetashi, while briefing journalists on the negative development in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Akperashi particularly pointed accusing fingers on the Nigerian Police Force X- Squad, whom he alleged is behind the harassment, arrest and destruction of revenue agents and offices in the state, thereby resulting to such huge losses.
He also alleged that the police X-Squad has conspired with officials of the Nigerian Association of Agricultural Products Dealers, in partnership with Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, to unlawfully collect between N2,000 to N3,000 as produce from individuals on the highways depending on the category.
He lamented that the situation has drastically affected the state IGR, stressing that the state major strength of IGR lies in agriculture and forestry products and called for a stop.
“They have resorted to wanton arrest and brutal intimidation of innocent Revenue Collection Agents as well as continuous destruction of Revenue Inspection Points and their facilities (such as offices, houses, billboards, etc) meant to check revenue invaders.”
He called on the Inspector General of Police to immediately direct his men of the X-Squad team to stop the continuous harassment of revenue agents as well as to stop them from unlawful collection of revenues on the highways from unsuspecting individuals.
He also urged the Minister for Agriculture to redirect men of Quarantine services and other agencies of his Ministry charged with the responsibility of surveillance and disease control to do their professional jobs and stop collecting revenue on the highways.
The Chairman, Benue Board of Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), Mrs Mimi Orubibi, who was not ready to speak on the issue at the time of filing this report, however, confirmed that the consultants were engaged by the board to assist in the collection of revenue in the state.
But reacting to the incidence, the state Police Commissioner, Bashir Makama, told journalists that the Command was yet to receive any report or petition of any nature relating to the activities of Operation X-Squad team in the state.
Makama also said no police officer is mandated to get involved in the collection of revenue at check points across the state, stressing that the X-Squad is only mandated to dismount all illegal revenue check points in the state.
He urged the BIRS and other stakeholders in the revenue sector to come together and resolve their differences or report to the Police for appropriate actions.