The Ondo State Government is set for battle with two federal government-owned higher institutions located in the state, the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) and Adeyemi College of Education (ACE), over allegations of tax evasion amounting to N2.454 billion.
While FUTA is said to owe the state sum of N2.1 billion, ACE, which is located in Ondo town allegedly owes N354.585 million in backlog of taxes. Already, the state Board of Internal Revenue (OSBIR) has served the two institutions with notices of non-compliance, copies of which were posted at the gates of the institutions.
The unpaid taxes were said to be deductions from the salaries of workers of the two institutions, payable to the coffers of the Ondo State Government. While FUTA was said to be owing the government from 2003 to 2009, ACE’s debt was said to be for 2010 alone. The notices pasted at the entrance of the institutions, had become a subject of discourse within the institutions, as the people were attracted to read it.
The notice, which read in parts: “Take notice that the owner/operator of the company/business premises has failed to comply with tax obligations under the relevant federal and state laws. Any officer or agent involved in this contravention is punishable by fine and/ or imprisonment under sections of the personal income tax act 1993, as amended by order of OSBIR.”
Although attempts to get reactions from officials of the two institutions in charge of the issue were unsuccessful, a lecturer at ACE who asked not to be named lamented over the recent increase of tax by the state government. He wondered why such huge amount of money would be imposed on the institution as tax.
His words: “Thank God, the COEASU is on strike and presently our students are not around because by now they may be planning to stage a protest against the government action and you know the usual result of students’ unrest.”
When the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of ACE, Mr Moses Akinfolarin was contacted on phone, he said he could not speak on the matter, saying only the Provost or the bursar could comment.
In the same vein, the FUTA PRO, Mr. Adegbenro Adebanjo said he was not aware of the matter and promised to meet the school’s bursar and call back. However, the FUTA spokesman did not call back as at the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, a senior staff in the Bursary Department of ACE, who also craved anonymity said the amount claimed by the government that the school was owing, was outrageous, insisting that the institution had not been evading taxes as alleged by the state government.
He noted, “the said money is too outrageous and the college has been paying but the argument is that the college has not been paying the right amount of money, but if the government accuses the college of not paying, on what basis would that be, how did they calculate it to arrive at the bill they brought.”
“As far as I know, ACE has never defaulted, if you check through all higher institution in the South-west, you will discover that we are the ones paying the highest amount of tax, so if the government could come with N354million, they should be able to tell us how they calculated it and arrived at that amount,” the staff said.