The Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service has sealed the two branches of Keystone Bank and another one belonging to Heritage Bank for their alleged failure to remit outstanding tax liabilities of N228.6m to the state government.
The banks were shut down on Thursday during an exercise conducted by the board’s Enforcement and Recovery Department, following an order of Notice of Distrain from the Akwa Ibom State High Court, Eket Judicial Division.
The board stated that if the affected banks do not settle the debts within 14 days, it had to mandate of the court to dispose of their property to recover the amounts owed.
The affected banks include two Keystone Bank branches, at Abak Road and Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo, and Heritage Bank, located at Aka Road, Uyo.
The Executive Director of Enforcement and Recovery, Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service, Leo Umana, while speaking to journalists, said Heritage Bank failed to remit its N100,270,910 tax liabilities to the state while Keystone Bank tax liabilities run into N128,413,882.
According to him, the board had given notices and exhausted reconciliation and negotiation opportunities with the organisations, hence the action.
Umana further stated that since the banks refused to remit taxes accruing to the state despite the long period of time given them, the board was left with no option but to get an exparte order to recover the revenue.
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According to him, banks served the Notice of Distrain, under the law, have 14 days to negotiate with AKIRS and vacate the order, adding that “If after 14 days, they do not comply, we have the mandate of the court to sell the property and recover the tax owed the state.”
Umana further stated that in the ongoing enforcement drive, the revenue board is poised to recover state government revenue, thus helping the government realise its agenda.
The Warrant of Distrain earlier received from the High Court of Akwa Ibom in the Eket Judicial Division, signed by Justice Effiong Effiong, which orders that access to the bank premises and its facilities be restricted, read: “A Warrant of Distrain is hereby issued upon any land, premises, or place of business in respect of which the Respondent is the owner or occupier at 39 Abak Road, Uyo Akwa Ibom State in satisfaction of outstanding tax liability of N128, 413, 882.20 established against the respondent.
“A Warrant of Distrain is hereby issued upon any land, premises or place of business in respect of which the respondent is the owner or occupier at 41 Aka Road, Uyo Akwa Ibom State in satisfaction of outstanding Tax liability of N100, 270, 901.62 established against the respondent.”