Court issues bench warrant against six banks, seals hotel premises
A Chief Magistrate’s Court in Aba has issued Bench Warrants against six banks for their absence as defendants in the suits brought against each of them by the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Also an Abia State high Court in Umuahia, the state capital, last week sealed the premises of a popular Hotel in Umuahia for failing to remit the sum of N1, 727, 970. 75 to the state government.
The amount was said to be the Hotel’s Staff Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax deductions due for remittance to the state government but which the hotel did not remit after demand notice to do so was served on it within the time allowed by the State BIR Law No 7 of 2008.
The Order to seal the Hotel premises dated, December 15, 2016 and signed by Justice K. O. Wosu was sequel to Suit No HU/. MISC/ 24 / 2016 which was filed by the BIR against the hotel.
The Aba Chief Magistrate Court presided over by U. U. Uche issued the bench warrants separately against the six banks after hearing the submissions of the Prosecutor, Chief K. E . Nwazue, an Assistant Chief State Counsel for the BIR.
Nwazue had prayed the court for an order of bench warrant on each of the six banks after they (six banks) were duly served both the demand notices for their Property and Land Use Charges and the summons in line with Sections 21 and 22 of the Abia State Property and Land Use Act 2014.
While the Plaintiff was in court, the six defendants namely, FCMB at Brass Street Aba, Stanbic IBTC at Factory road, GTB Aba/Owerri road/Abia Poly, Ecobank at Factory Road, Sterling Bank at Eziukwu road and United Bank for Africa, Factory road were not in court or represented by Counsels.
Consequently, the court ordered that in view of the application of the prosecuting counsel, bench warrants be issued against the absentee Defendants/Banks to show cause why they should not be punished under the law.
In furtherance to the said orders, the defendants premises were ordered to be sealed until all the outstanding charges, penalties and taxes are paid.
The Court also ordered the six banks to individually pay 25 per cent increment of the assessed charges in accordance with section 23 (1) of the law and additionally pay a N 100, 000 fine each in accordance with section 22 ( b ) of the law and that compliance be reported to the court at next adjourned case.
The court further ruled that the order shall apply to all other absentee defendants in the suit except those listed as No 56, 62, 105, 112, 113 and 117.