Programme transmission at the Benin Zonal office of Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, has been off air for the past 24 hours after the shutting down of its corporate headquarters located along TV Road, and transmission station located at Aduwawa by the Edo State Board of Internal Revenue over alleged unpaid tax.

The outstanding debt is said to be several millions of naira.

Other federal establishments operating in Benin City that were also shut over tax debt include the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) on Benin-Agbor Road, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Benoni Road, GRA, Benin City as well as the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), located at Airport Road and Akpakpava Road respectively.

Activities in the affected establishments were grounded Thursday as workers were barred from entering following a notice of restraining order placed at the entrance.

Workers and customers who arrived early in the morning to carry out one business or the other were helpless, just as they expressed surprise and dissatisfaction over the matter. They advised the companies to redress the issues between them and the revenue board.

A staff of NIPOST who would not disclose his name faulted the exercise, maintaining that since NIPOST was a government establishment, there was no reason why it should be shut, adding that they ought to have reached a common ground through dialogue over the issue.

“I see no reason why our offices should be sealed off since it is an issue that concerns government agencies. They should be able to talk to themselves and understand themselves,” he said.

Director of Tax Intelligence and Enforcement of the Internal Revenue Board, Mr. Victor Okube said a court order empowering them to seal off the defaulting establishments was obtained by the board, adding that a month notice was served on the establishments, after which two months’ grace was further given before they decided to embark on the exercise.

“A period of 30 days was given to them which had since lapsed, after which a two-month grace period was also granted them. If you add the two months to the one month notice, it sums up to about 90 days, yet there was no response from them. That is why we  went to court and obtained an order to restrain the establishments from operating until they pay up their taxes. This is just the beginning, we will continue tomorrow (today). We will not relent until they pay up their tax arrears,” he said.

Okube appealed to the management of the affected establishments to pay up what they owe to enable them continue their businesses.

There was indication that more federal offices would be sealed off if they failed to comply with notices served on them to pay up their tax arrears as officials of the Board disclosed that the exercise continues.

NTA and other federal establishments were also shut last year over similar issue.

—Jethro Ibileke/Benin