Lagos Shuts Computer Village Over Tax issue
Lagos has shut down its famous computer village in Ikeja over alleged failure of the marketers to pay personal income tax. Officials of the state Board of Internal Revenue on Thursday banded together with the Task Force and the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) to seal up the market that thrives in mobile telephone hand sets and computer accessories.
All the entrances were barricaded with government and police vehicles, including an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), in an operation that began at about 5 a.m.
The shops bore signs of "Sealed on the order of Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue pursuant to Section 104 Personal Income Tax Act, Cap 8 Laws of the Federation 2004."
An eyewitness said many of the computer vendors who did not know what had befallen them and had attempted to gain entry into the market were prevented from doing so. They initially resisted the invasion but were overpowered by the combined team of state officials and policemen.
A Revenue Official, Akin Ariyo, confirmed that "the place is shut down because the operators of this village failed to pay their taxes. Fewer than 10 per cent of them have responded, so we are waiting for more than 90 per cent.
"We are here on the directive of Governor Babatunde Fashola, and until he says otherwise, we will be here. There is no room for pleading this time, the government needs money."
Another official, Sunday Ige, lamented that the marketers have failed to respond to several enlightenment campaigns to pay tax. But the spokesman for the operators, Suleiman Kushimo, pleaded for more time, saying: "We have heard the Governor saying he would not borrow money to run the state's affairs, and would depend on internally generated revenue.
"As a member of the executive of the market, I assure the government that the market task force will work jointly with the government task force to ensure 100 per cent compliance before this month runs out."
Others kicked against the action in a democracy, arguing that those who have paid their taxes should not suffer with defaulters. "Let the fewer than 10 per cent who have complied open for business," one marketer said.