Revenue collectors engaged by the Benue Government on Wednesday decried incessant harassment by Policemen, and claimed that they had lost more than N500 million to such attitude.
The tax collectors, under the aegis of the Consultants Forum of Benue State Internal Revenue Service, told newsmen in Makurdi that the activities of the security agents had consistently frustrated revenue agents.
Chief John Akperashi, President of the forum, alleged that officials and men of the Nigeria Police Force X- Squad had harassed and arrested revenue agents, and also destroyed revenue offices.
He further alleged that the policemen had conspired with officials of Nigerian Association of Agricultural Products Dealers, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, to unlawfully collect monies from revenue agents.
“The situation has drastically affected the state’s internally generated revenue because agriculture and forestry products are the major revenue sources.
“The security agents have arrested and intimidated innocent revenue collection agents; they have also destroyed revenue inspection points and their offices, houses and billboards,” he said.
Akperashi called on the Inspector General of Police to order his men to stop harassing revenue collection agents, adding that personnel charged with surveillance and disease control had no business collecting revenue on highways.
Mrs. Mimi Orubibi, Chairman, Benue Board of Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), recently said that the consultants were engaged by the board to assist in the collection of revenue.
Orubibi revealed that the board was already aware of the activities of the X-Squad police officers and had officially complained to the relevant authorities, including the Inspector General of Police.
Reacting, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Bashir Makama, said that the command was yet to receive any report or petition over the alleged vices of Operation X-Squad team.
Makama also dismissed reports that police officers were involved in the collection of revenue at checkpoints across the state.
“The X-Squad is only carrying out its mandate. BIRS and other stakeholders in the revenue sector should try and resolve their difference or report any unwholesome attitude of security agents for appropriate action,” he said.