The Imo State government has been recording more than N1billion as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) monthly since February this year, an official of its revenue agency, Olurunfemi Adedeji has disclosed.
Adedeji, Head of Corporate Communication of the Imo State Internal Revenue Service (IIRS) made the disclosure in a statement obtained by our correspondent on Thursday.
Adedeji was reacting to a report in an Owerri-based newspaper, Nigeria Watchdog which claimed that the IGR of the state has dropped significantly since the advent of the incumbent management headed by Dr. Ifeanyi Okeke.
The spokesman of the agency added that the more than N1billion IGR mark does not include the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) of the state ministries and departments which were part of the IIRS collections in the past years.
He accused the newspaper of engaging in a mission of systematic disinformation instead of providing reliable information for members of the public as the fourth estate of the society.
Adedeji denied that the IIRS had singled out the newspaper for intimidation and harassment as it alleged in one of its editions, saying that the demand for tax payment was sent out not only to media outfits but also other business concerns in the state.
He stated that Nigeria Watchdog newspaper has no single record of tax payment with the IIRS for all its years of doing business in Imo State.
According to the spokesman, up to five different notices, audit invitations and reminders had been served to the publisher of the newspaper by the IIRS without the agency receiving a single response.
He submitted that the management of the newspaper company has not shown itself to be either responsible or law-abiding as it had claimed.
Instead of showing itself to be a responsible corporate citizen, Adedeji said the newspaper rather resorted to making a bogus claim that the service wants to plant dangerous and incriminating objects and substances in its office.
Adedeji dismissed the claim by the newspaper as not only false, typically malicious and unfortunate but also an attempt to sensationalize a serious matter of tax evasion against the government of Imo State and reduce the conversation to gutter journalism.
He insisted that it is within the statutory rights of the IIRS to visit businesses in Imo State, serve notices and conduct audits where applicable.
The spokesman of the agency further accused the newspaper of maintaining a sustained, reprehensible character assassination and name-dropping in its articles.
According to him, the newspaper has since March 10, this year yielded its pages to gossip, unsubstantiated reports on the operations of the IIRS, name-calling and what amounts to a clear case of character assassination of the Commissioner for Finance and Coordinating Economy, Imo State, Dr Doris Anite.