Activities at 12 banks’ branches located in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, were disrupted early on Monday when the state’s Board of Internal Revenue sealed their offices for non-payment of Environmental Development Levy spanning over three years.
The affected banks are located in Dugbe, Ring Road, Challenge, Jericho, Bodija, Mokola and Iyaganku areas of the city.
Two enforcement teams from the board stormed the banks to carry out the order, but officials of some of the banks prevented them from sealing their premises. Some of them refused to leave the gates of the premises, thereby provoking a confrontation with the law enforcement officers.
It took the intervention of a combined security force that went with the teams to ensure that the order was carried out. In some of the branches, the order was stepped down in order to avoid violence.
The amount owed by the banks, according to the board, range from N800,000 to N5m. Our correspondent gathered that the banks owed the state more than N70m in levies.
Many customers were unable to access the premises, while those inside had to leave through back doors and fire escape routes.
When contacted on the development, the Chairman of the revenue board, Mr Bicci Alli, told our correspondent that the banks were given enough notice and time to pay what they owed the government.
He said, “The exercise was not outside the law. We went after some banks that failed to give to Oyo State what is due to it after giving due notices to them. We went to their offices this morning to seal their premises, because they failed to pay. It is going to be a continuous exercise this week and next week.
“It will be a part of our operation in the board until people learn to do the right things. We were able to lock about 11 banks for owing Environmental Development Levy. Some of the banks owe up to three years. We wrote letters to them and gave them a long time to comply.”
Alli said many of the banks had been reopened after they paid the levy, adding that it was sad that they waited until action was taken against them.
He stated, “It is sad that we had to do this for them to pay. As we speak, the level of compliance now is about 90 per cent. They have been coming forward to pay. The only penalty is that we prevented them from getting access to their premises this morning.