FIRS Shuts Costain W/Africa, Others Over N2.6bn Tax Debt

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) yesterday sealed the offices of construction giant Costain West Africa Plc, First Deepwater Discovery Limited, CAT Construction Group Limited and OPI International Limited, all in Lagos.
Costain West Africa Plc alone is alleged to be owing N2bn in Company Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT) and other taxes.

First Deepwater Discovery Limited, located at 20, Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, allegedly has tax liabilities of N230m, made up of withholding tax, education tax and VAT, while the tax liabilities of CAT Construction Group Limited, located at 20C Ogunlewe Street, off Ligali Ayorinde Street, Victoria Island, were put at N176m.
OPI International Limited, located at UBA House, Marina, owes N3m in CIT and VAT.
Daily Trust learnt that a top management staff of OPI pleaded with the enforcement team to grant the company an extension of the grace period for the resolution of its tax liabilities.
However, Anita Erinne, leader of the FIRS enforcement team, was said to have ignored pleas and ordered the office sealed after she had ordered the staff out of the office.
“I have to carry out the directive as I have been directed,” said Erinne.
At Costain, a top official told the FIRS team that the company had already opened discussions with the FIRS on how to defray its tax liabilities, but Erinne said she was unaware of such talks.
FIRS officials disclosed that in Onitsha, Anambra State, another FIRS team also shut down four business premises. At the Building Materials International Market, Ogbunike, the team closed down the offices of Shoelz International Limited over a tax debt of N32m.
Also affected by the enforcement exercise in Onitsha was Midfield West Africa Limited and Felixo International Hotel Limited, Oba.
Also in Onitsha, Ekwenibe and Sons Trading Company Limited was shut over a tax liability of N78m. Mr. Chibuzor Edeh, leader of the enforcement team in Onitsha, was quoted to have said that all the affected companies were served several reminders, which they ignored, leaving the FIRS without an option other than enforcement.

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