In a significant move to recover outstanding tax liabilities, the Governor of Akwa Ibom, Umo Eno, ordered the closure of three banks within the state, owing a collective sum of N228.6 million to the government.
This decision was made following the failure of the banks to remit their tax obligations to the state government.
The affected financial institutions include two branches of Keystone Bank, situated at Abak Road and Ikot Ekpene Road in Uyo, and Heritage Bank, located on Aka Road in Uyo.
The enforcement action was executed by the Board’s Enforcement and Recovery Department, prompted by a Notice of Distrain issued by the Akwa Ibom State High Court, Eket Judicial Division.
The closure was officially implemented on Thursday, marking a dramatic step in the government’s pursuit of unpaid taxes.
In an interview with journalists, Mr. Leo Umana, the Board’s Executive Director of Enforcement and Recovery, revealed that Heritage Bank had failed to remit N100,270,910 in tax liabilities to the state, while Keystone Bank’s tax liabilities amounted to N128,413,882.
These figures had been accumulating over time, and the Board had previously issued notices and attempted negotiations with the banks before resorting to the extreme measure of shutting them down.
Umana stated, “Since the banks refused to fulfill their tax obligations to the state, despite the ample time provided to them, the Board had no option but to seek an ex-parte order to recover the revenue.”
Under the law, banks served with a Notice of Distraint have a 14-day window to negotiate with the Akwa Ibom Internal Revenue Service (AKIRS) and vacate the order. Umana emphasized, “If they fail to comply after the 14-day period, we have the court’s mandate to sell the property and recover the taxes owed to the state.”
This aggressive move by the revenue board is part of the ongoing enforcement drive aimed at recovering state government revenue, thereby supporting the government’s ambitious ARISE agenda.
The Warrant of Distrain, issued by the High Court of Akwa Ibom in the Eket Judicial Division and signed by Justice Effiong Effiong, authorizes the restriction of access to the bank premises and its facilities in order to satisfy the outstanding tax liability of N128,413,882.20 owed by the banks.
As of the time of filing this report, none of the affected banks could be reached for comments on the matter.
This action underscores the government’s commitment to ensuring that all entities fulfill their tax responsibilities to support public services and development within the state.
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