Activities in the Benin station of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Radio Nigeria Bronze FM, have remained grounded for two weeks after the radio station was shut by the Edo State Internal Revenue Service over an alleged indebtedness of N6.7m tax.
The revenue service agency claimed that the figure represented unpaid remittances of income taxes spanning two years by the radio station.
It said the station owed N2,583,344.60 in 2011, including an interest of N443,000 at 21 per cent, and N4,185,912.17 for 2012, which also included interest and a penalty of over N800,000.
As part of efforts to ensure the payment of the outstanding tax obligation, the revenue agency sealed off the Benin station of the broadcast outfit on September 28.
It was learnt that the enforcement had grounded services at the station, leaving the workers stranded.
The station was off air when our correspondent tuned to the 101.5 FM megahertz frequency on Tuesday.
The management of the station refused to speak on the shutting down of the station, but a top official said the management of the zonal network centre had taken steps to intervene in the development.
It was also gathered that a meeting with the revenue service agency would hold on Wednesday (today).
But a member of staff of the station, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the claim by the revenue agency as “doubtful and outrageous.”
The worker argued that the Benin station had few employees since it commenced operation on December 25, 2010.
“The figures are doubtful and outrageous because even if the station has 200 personnel, which is not even up to that, that means one person will be paying over N50,000 as tax.
“The closure is making the station to lose its clientele and revenue, beside the sponsored programmes and adverts that have been paid for,” the source added.
The source stated that the payment of taxes had been regular ever since workers’ salaries were paid through the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Integrated System by the Federal Ministry of Finance in May, 2012.
“As a Federal Government’s only radio station in Edo State, the EIRS is denying the good people of the state (access to) listen to the popular programmes and in-depth news of the station,” the source said.
The Executive Director of Income Tax at the EIRS, Mr. Charity Amayaenvbo, however, explained that the station was rightly sealed following an order of the court to enforce the payment of the outstanding tax obligations.
Amayaenvbo said the enforcement would subsist until the debts were paid.
He stated, “The obligations we have against them (Radio Nigeria) today is as a result of back-duty assessment for 2011 and 2012; and these notices were communicated to them (but) they failed to pay.
“This was even a reverse assessment; the first assessment was given to them, they (officials) made some presentations and we had an agreement. That agreement formed the reverse assessment.”
According to him, the amount payable by the station is determined by the penalties and interest.
“The solution is that they pay up their obligations for them to operate in Edo State,” he added.