“Ogoja Amalgamated Traders Association Is Illegal”-Govt Insists

Rita Ayim, Ogoja LG boss.
Rita Ayim, Ogoja LG boss.
Local authorities in Ogoja Local Government Area, North of Cross River state, currently engaged in a war of words and actions with a group of traders who call themselves the Ogoja Amalgamated Traders Association, are insisting that the union is an illegal body bent on cheating government out of money she should earn as taxes, www.calitown.com can reveal.

While the association has orchestrated the locking of shops in most parts of Ogoja claiming that “council wants to collect taxes by any means necessary even if it means traders having nothing to sell afterwards”, council sources have informed www.calitown.com about “a systematic plan on the part of a few traders to deny government the collection of revenue”. Council sources were particular that the tax assessment of business premises was done with the active participation of the traders and further revealed that Ogoja Local Government Council is among the first set of councils in CRS to “come up with a data base of shops for easy tax assessment”.

It may interest the traders to know that, the “tax policy is in line with the directives of the state government, we are not doing anything to the contrary”, as the source insists. What is however worrying to local authorities as www.calitown.com investigations show, is the insistence of most traders to be categorised within the least tax categorization, even when it is clear that their volume of business cannot be accomodated in that category. “We did the categorization and had, small, medium, large and very large businesses. At the end of the categorization exercise, we gave the traders ample opportunity to look at the categorization we have done with them and objections raised were accomodated, it is however unfortunate that those with big businesses who want to short change government have constituted themselves into an illegal body, going round Ogoja and enforcing the shutting down of businesses and demanding a N10, 000 fine, an illegality by any standard”, the source submitted.

“Sincerely, whether the traders are locking their shops or not, they will pay. Because of the volatile situation in the country, we have been very tactical in engaging them head on, we have left that to security agencies, better trained and equipped to confront situations like this, but we need to get this clear, government cannot be held to ransome by a few individuals bent on enjoying security and infrastructure provided by government, while refusing to perform their civic responsibility. The so called Ogoja Amalgamated Traders Association is an illegality, there is no evidence anywhere to show that they are registered and soon the full weight of the law will be brought to bear on their activities”, our source concluded.

It is looking likely that unless local council authorities and the traders get together again, this may be drawn out and will not augur well for the economy of the LGA.

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