Benue State Internal Revenue Service has sealed off the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, over non-remittance of Personal Income Tax running into N2.3bn.
The Chairman of the Board, Mrs. Mimi Adzape-Orubibi, led the enforcement agents to the university located at north bank area of the state, where they sealed off the offices of the vice-chancellor, registrar and the bursar.
The institution’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities has described the move as a fraudulent attempt to commence another round of illegal deductions from the salaries of its members, a situation ASUU said might instigate crisis in the university.
Mrs. Adzape-Orubibi while speaking shortly after the exercise, said the BIRS had to make the move after the university failed to respond to several letters written to it to pay up the outstanding Personal Income Tax from 2007 to 2011.
”The BIRS got an interim order to restrain FUAM because it failed to deduct PAYE tax in some cases or deducted less in other cases. The institution would now have to pay almost N3bn, inclusive of penalties and interest,” she stated.
According to her, Benue State Government is very passionate about education, stressing that the decision to picket the institution became necessary owing to its continued evasion of tax.
But in a swift reaction, acting Chairman of ASUU, Mr. Bemgba Anjembe, insisted that PAYE was deducted monthly from staff salary and alleged that there is suspected connivance between BIRS and the university authority not to remit taxes already deducted from staff, thus denying them access to tax clearance certificate.
Anjembe said: “On August 27, 2014, BIRS wrote a letter to the VC in which it informed that the university was owing BIRS tax liability due to the failure to deduct PAYE tax to the tune of over N2bn.
“That was their claim, but we don’t agree with that figure. How did BIRS arrive at that value? The university is not a business outfit but a social service. This is fraud.”
The students of the university however besieged the BIRS office located on Gboko Road, Makurdi, to protest the closure of their institution and called for dialogue between the BIRS and the university authority.
When contacted, the university’s management which spoke through its Public Relations Officer, Joseph Fanafa, said it was maintaining a dignified silence on the matter until the outcome of a meeting with BIRS scheduled for Friday.