Benue has concluded plans to harmonize all locally approved levies collection on the state’s highways, the management of Benue Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) has said.
According to Jacinta Bernard, the media assistant to the BIRS chairman, the board does not collect presumptive taxes on the roads.
Mrs Bernard, who spoke with reporters in an interview on Sunday, said that even cars that often convey passengers were not taxed because haulage was a tax paid by cargo vehicles.
She insisted that no personnel of the board were permitted to demand or harass any motorist, private or commercial, for any type of revenue while on the road.
“Cars that take passengers do not pay haulage fees; they pay presumptive tax of N200 for smaller vehicles and N500 for buses, and this is usually collected at the park, not on the road,” she explained.
A legal practitioner, Maureen Igyor, also explained that the only authorised body responsible for collecting levies from motorists in the state was the BIRS.
Mr Igyor said it was illegal for anyone other than an agent of the service to collect levies, adding that BIRS had their payment points and would never set up roadblocks for revenue collection.
“All those mounting roadblocks, obstructing the free flow of traffic, and causing accidents are engaging in illegal activities because the government is not aware of such deployments.
“Those people are unauthorised revenue officials and do not remit payments to government coffers because BIRS does not collect levies through crooked methods,’’ she explained.
She suggested that government officials and security agents should check the points where such illegal operations were taking place, with a view to ending the harassment of road users.
On his part, another Makurdi-based lawyer, Sunday Okpale, said that asking owners of private space buses to pay haulage was not just illegal but a violation of the rights of the owners.
Mr Okpale maintained that government officials in charge of the collection of these levies should know the difference between private and commercial vehicles.
He pointed out that private and commercial vehicles had different car number plates.
“Private buses are different from commercial buses; ordinarily, revenues collected from commercial vehicles should not apply to private.
“It is illegal to demand documents meant for commercial vehicles from those using their vehicles for private purposes because the officials should know they do not have such documents.
“Most of these officials who mount roadblocks are criminals and do not remit these monies forcefully collected from vehicle owners to the government.
“‘These monies are collected for personal use, and that is why they delay, harass, and even rough handle private vehicle owners if they refuse to pay them,” he stated.
To address the menace in Plateau, Samuel Gwott, the general manager of Plateau Express Service, said that the state government had banned unauthorised revenue points on the highways.
Mr Gwott decried the situation where motorists with valid vehicle particulars obtained from one state were being detained in another state.
The general manager, therefore, advised private car owners to acquaint themselves with the extant laws guiding the operations of all legal authorities manning highways.
That way, according to him, motorists will not be shortchanged or surcharged by illegal persons while plying highways.
Audu Daspan, a Jos-based legal practitioner, decried the rising trend, saying it was illegal to stop private vehicles on the highways for unauthorised stickers and licences.
“I call on affected persons to challenge such acts of gross illegality in a competent court.
“It is completely unfair and wrong to extort money from private bus drivers on federal highways,’’ Mr Daspan said.