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Bayelsa shuts Chinese company over N109.5m tax default




The Bayelsa State Board of Internal Revenue, on Wednesday, sealed off a Chinese company, Hilong Oil Services and Engineering Company Limited, over alleged tax default of N109.5m.

It was learnt that the company, which carries out services for oil companies, including Shell Petroleum Development Company, had allegedly been owing the state government for five years.

The enforcement team of BIR, with full complement of security operatives drawn from the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, stormed the premises of HOSEC located at Elebele, Ogbia Local Government Area of the state, about 9 am, to carry out the sealing.

However, the enforcement team was not immediately allowed entry into the premises by soldiers guarding the company until an unnamed official of the company came and after some disagreement, allowed them to carry out their operation.

In an interview after the operation, the Director of Compliance, BIR, Mr. Robert Lokoson, said the team was at HOSEC to recover a tax debt of N109.5m owed the state government by the company since 2013.

Lokoson said the operation was in pursuant of Section 104 of Personal Income Tax (Amendment) 2011 and an ex parte order granted by the High Court of Bayelsa State, in the Sagbama Judicial Division, holden at Yenagoa.

He stated, ”This operation is part of Bayelsa State Government’s efforts in improving Internally Generated Revenue in the state and pursuant to Section 104 of Personal Income Tax 2011.

”The Bayelsa State Board of Internal Revenue, having obtained the necessary court orders, hereby pasted the Warrant of Distrain on the property of Hilong Oil Services and Engineering Company Limited for a tax debt of N109.5m owed the Bayelsa State Government.

”The debt has been on since 2013 and we have written a series of letter to them to pay but no response from them. A few weeks back, we came here, though not with court orders, with the intention of having them to see reasons to come and comply, but no response. So, we have to take this last resort of getting court orders.

”Tax matter has laws binding it and as a law-abiding board, we have gone through the necessary processes to arrive at carrying out the sealing.”

On the next step, Lokoson said after 14 days, if no response came from the company, the board would go back to court and institute a case against them.

He said the sealing of the company was to show the seriousness of the state government in recovering the money, stressing that the government needed money in financing its projects.







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