N25bn tax liability: Akwa Ibom drags Total to court

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The Akwa Ibom State government is determined to drag Total E&P Nigeria Limited to court over a tax liability of N25bn.

A revenue consultant to the state government and Chief Executive Officer of Rom Flex Networks Limited, Mr. Eyo Bassey, said this in Uyo on Tuesday.

According to him, the Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service has expressed displeasure over the continued indifference of the French oil conglomerate to clear the alleged tax liability it owes the state.

Explaining the situation to our correspondent, Bassey said TEPNG has been found to be serially negligent on its tax liabilities to the state government, noting that tax evasion is a criminal case.

“The Akwa Ibom State IRS has taken a firm decision to embark on a series of legal actions against Total E&P until our calculated tax liabilities are fully settled.

“We have given them from now a 7-day ultimatum to settle the liabilities or face the dire consequences of its increasing default of the state revenue laws,” he said.

Justifying the legal action, Bassey said the IRS has no other option, but to resort to legal tussle after making several representations to TEPNG by the state government in demand of settlement of its outstanding tax liabilities, without securing a corresponding response.

He said, “TEPNG have turned many well-intended efforts in settlement of the liability by the state government down, and this has offered the state no alternative option but to take a stringent step toward prosecuting the oil giant for its serial tax default to the state government.”

Bassey said that if the oil multinational had paid the money, there would have been evidence in the books, adding that there has never been any evidence pointing to tax payment in the state revenue books from TEPNG.

TEPNG is said to have claimed that it does not owe the state any outstanding sums in tax arrears, and as such it is not subjected to the state revenue laws.

It was learnt that the multinational had said it does not maintain any operational fields or offices in the state.

Investigations, however, said to be carried out, revealed that the French oil giant operates three Oil Mining Licence in several fields located in Akwa Ibom territory.

It was gathered that TEPNG has been in oil exploration in the area for over 30 years since it began operations in Nigeria 61 years ago.

Attempts to speak with the Public and Corporate Affairs Officer, TEPNG, Ms Francisca Makolo was unsuccessful as she neither answered calls made to her telephone nor responded to text message sent to her.Punch


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