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Anambra: 30 UBA branches remain sealed over N7b debt

Owes 6 years unpaid tax remittances Negotiation enters Day 2 at a beer parlour!

The on-going face-off between the Anambra State government and the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc over alleged tax remittance irregularities has entered its second day with no services rendered at any of the bank’s branches all over the state.

Consequently all the nearly 30 branches of the bank scattered all over the 179 communities within the 21 Local Government areas of the state have remained sealed for the seven days.

According to our sources, the Legal Enforcement Unit of the Anambra State Internal Revenue Service carried out the action in order to get the bank to comply with the required remittances.

The ugly and unexpected situation visibly took the bank’s customers unawares and stranded, as even the Automated Teller Machines, ATMs in all the bank’s branches remained completely sealed and shut down.

While the shop-floor staff of the bank stayed away from the bank’s premises all over the state, those of the management cadre, including those from the zonal headquarters have been locked in heated negotiations with state government revenue officers for the second day today.

Sadly the top flight discussion was being held in a beer parlour(names withheld) along the Anambra State Secretariat road, Arroma junction Awka.

An apparent longstanding customer of the bank who gave his name simply as Chief Udeh, who went to the Arroma Expressway Branch of the bank Tuesday, Aug 28,2018 to effect some funds transfer for the clearing of his goods that arrived at the Apapa Wharf but met the bank marked “sealed by the Anambra State Internal Revenue Service” could not hold back tears.

Chief Udeh while bemoaning his fate lamented that he had tactically left the funds in his UBA Plc untouched in lieu of the expected arrival of the goods(motor spare-parts) he had been expecting from Antwerp, Germany.

Consequently, at each of the bank’s branches, stranded customers and staff members are greeted with court-backed seal-up stickers pasted on the bank’s gates, entrances and the ATM galleries, while security agents, and complaints monitoring officers from the state revenue office hang around the bank branches watching to ensure no one goes inside.

When contacted, the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Anambra State Internal Revenue Service, Dr David Nzekwue, said the Board was acting in line with order compelling the bank’s branches to be sealed off following non-remittance of six billion, nine hundred million Naira (N6.9 billion)tax revenue accrued from the personal income tax deductions from its employees.

Dr Nzekwe disclosed that the huge amount was owed between year 2006-2011. He also noted that the bank having failed to provide the necessary documents needed for an audit in 2017, was served a preceding Best of Judgement Assessment notice, of which it’s default has led to the on-going seal-off.

The Revenue Service chief pointed out that the Board exercises its powers in line with best legal standards, and regretted the inconveniences caused by the seal-off on the bank’s customers that would have been avoided. He however pointed out that the Board ever ready for negotiations.

When approached at the beer parlour, venue of the negotiations at Arroma Junction this afternoon, none of the bank managers was ready to speak. One of them stated that it was not in the practice of banks to address journalists except from the bank headquarters.

He however lamented the “huge revenue they have suffered as well as their customers”, but expressed optimism that the face-off would end today.

More customers of the bank including Chief Emmanuel Ejidike and Dr Julius Agada called for an immediate resolution of the stand-off, to reduce the adverse effects on the both the customers and states revenue generation machinery .

From Chuks Collins, Awka

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