The leadership council of the Onitsha South Local Government Area of Anambra State has alleged that the National Inland Water Ways Authority NIWA and the Julius Berger Construction Company PLC owe the sum of N5,299 billion.
To this end, the Council have approached the Revenue Court in Onitsha which has already delivered judgment in favour of the Council compelling Julius Berger to pay the sum of N99 million owed to it.
Similarly, the Council area has concluded arrangements to recover the sum of N5,2 Billion owed by NIWA through every legal means possible.
Secretary of the local government area, Paul Onuachalla Esq; stated this during a press briefing held at the council headquarters in Onitsha, the commercial town of the state.
He disclosed that the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) is indebted to the local government area to the tune of N5.2 billion which constitutes of revenue it illegally collected that is due to the council from 1999 to date.
Similarly, the construction giant, Julius Berger Construction Company Plc owes about N99.9 million being judgment debt to the council, being years of unpaid taxes, adding that this has been a rip-off on the revenue of the council.
Onuachalla pointed out that the activities of the staff of the trio of Julius Berger Construction Company Plc, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and one Chief Ngozi Okpagu, who runs a motor park which he allegedly claims to have acquired from NIWA, have “threatened the staff of the LGA and a Court bailiff who were directed by law to do their lawful duties to serve the trio court process.”
He urged the Nigeria Army, a body that has well-defined roles in the Constitution of protecting the territorial integrity of our country not to allow itself to be used as an instrument of recklessness and rascality by those meddlesome Interlopers.
It lamented what he described as shocking the level of disregard for the laws of the land by not just private individuals but also corporate bodies and organizations that ought to have been well informed about the workings of the law and government.
According to Onuachalla, it is on record that Julius Berger Plc has been owing the Onitsha South local government arrears of levies due to the council for at least four (4) years now. In view of this fact, the council sent a demand notice to them in September 2022, and further reminders for them to pay what they owe.
“This is against the fact that we have sufficient evidence of service of demand notices before now yet the entity failed to heed our notice.”
“Consequently, the council was compelled to approach the Court and obtained debt judgment against Julius Berger Plc. The execution of the judgment was due on 25th of August 2023 and the High Court Onitsha division was led by the bailiff in the company of staff of Onitsha South Local Govt Council.”
“The Chief Security officer of at the premises of Julius Berger Plc resisted the bailiff and refused to allow him to perform his duty and he consequently invited the Nigeria Army and on their arrival, the army and chief security officer were shown copies of the judgment under execution but they bluntly resisted alleging there was non-service of demand notice,” Onuachalla said.
“The army contended that they had an order from Abuja to stop the execution of Onitsha High Court judgment and no particular reason was given to that effect. As law-abiding citizens of Nigeria, the duo of the bailiff and staff of Onitsha South local government area managed to carry out their lawful duties but with a threat to their lives.”
“On the said day while executing the judgment of the Onitsha High Court, both the bailiff and the staff of the Council area were beaten blue black and ultimately tear gassed.”
“Against all odds and at the risk of their lives, the bailiff and our local government staff eventually managed to seal off two machines but were unable to move them out of the premises because the personnel of the Nigeria Army allegedly threatened to kill them as ordered by Abuja, except themselves and Julius Berger staff.”
Onuachalla explained further that it is not only Julius Berger Plc that has been found neck deep in act of recklessness in alleged land Grabbing and abuse of payment of revenue, their co-traveller, Nigeria Breweries Plc were found to be also involved in the entire mess.
He stated that the brewery company is also involved in encroachment into public space of Onitsha South local government area with a breach of the building line by about ten meters.
The council therefore warned all owners of illegal structures, land grabbers and criminal speculators that their days are numbered as the council would ensure that the laws of the land reign supreme as nobody is above the law.”
The council commended the state governor Prof. Charles Soludo for his doggedness and resoluteness in restoring purposeful and populist local government administration in Anambra state.