Access Bank branches in Gombe state have been shutdown by the government.
The decision was made over the inability of the bank to settle N118 million unpaid taxes. The financial institution was locked after a 30-day warning notice from the Gombe State Internal Revenue Service (GIRS). GIRS had accused the bank of failing to pay income tax of it’s employees to the tune of one hundred and eighteen million accumulated liability over 10 years. The Executive Chairman of GIRS, Abubakar Inuwa Tata, who spoke with newsmen on Wednesday, said the service decided to seal the branches after a 30-day notice issued to the management of Access Bank expired without any form of correspondence from them. Mr Tata said, “According to the state’s laws, the bank or any tax-paying entity have within 30 days to comply or object with the demand notice if they are comfortable with the amount they are asked to pay. But Access Bank didn’t object, neither did they reply to the demand notice.“Instead, the bank took the GIRS to the Tax Appeal Tribunal in Bauchi State and we followed the case to its legal conclusion and the tribunal dismissed the case. And by law after 30 days whatever served to you becomes binding, final and conclusive, which means the bank has no option than to pay the amount of N118m on the demand notice.” Tata stressed that the bank was careless after the expiration of the 30-day notice as it blatantly ignored GIRS’s letter, therefore, “we got a court order to seal the bank, which was approved.” He explained that the figure arrived at the after-tax investigation of on Pay-as-You-Earn (PAYE) of the bank personnel covering over 10 years. Tata added that the branches would remain close until the money was paid to the state government to have money and provide social services to people living in the state. He revealed that other banks operating in the state had taken GIRS to courts over issues of tax evasion, saying they would take appropriate action when the cases were determined by the courts.