The businesses of Igbo traders in Adamawa State are under threat, following an alleged plan by the state government to shut them down, following their refusal to pay tax that was not approved by the Adamawa House of Assembly.
The Guardian investigation reveals that the purported tax introduced by the Ministry of Transport, asking motor parts dealers to pay N90,000 annually was not backed by state law.
It was revealed that some state government officials invited some leaders of Igbo traders for a meeting at the Ministry of Transport chaired by the permanent secretary, Mr. Cornelius Dedan Nyari, last month. After the meeting, representatives of the Igbo refused to sign the purported agreement paper.
It was alleged that Igbo traders were told at the meeting that Igbo businesses would be tax free if they agree to support the candidature of governor Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow and president Mohammadu Buhari; but the traders insisted that they prefer to pay tax that are approved by the state laws.
When The Guardian visited the office of the permanent secretary, Mr. Nyari, he admitted taxing Igbo motor parts dealers N90,000 yearly, but failed to produce the copy of state law that empowers his ministry to carry out such duties of collecting tasks on behalf of government.
He admitted that issuance of business operational permit is under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, but insisted that he has powers to collect tax from motor parts dealers.
Nyari in a letter to the leader of Igbo traders dated October 15, 2018, after the aborted meeting said members of your association are therefore advised to come to the Ministry of Transport to register and pay all their outstanding annual dues, if they have not done so before now. This is the only way they can guarantee the continuity of their businesses in the state,” the letter read.
When The Guardian contacted the Adamawa state chairman of automobile spare parts dealers Mr. Chukwudi Obika, he said that he was invited to the ministry last month to attend a meeting, but that after the meeting, he refused to sign a document the officials prepared before him and his team.
On why he refused to sign the document, he said: “What was contained in the document was first not what we discuss and two the document was not made available for us to read it before signing, so we suspected a foul play in the matter.”