Seven construction workers of G-Complex Nigeria Ltd were on Wednesday brutalised by officials of the Abuja Municipal Area Council over claims that the company failed to pay annual vehicle permit levy.
The workers were beaten to stupor by the AMAC Revenue collectors along the popular Gwarimpa junction in the Federal Capital Territory during an official assignment.
The workers were said to have been attacked with matchets and other dangerous weapons while two vehicles belonging to the company were confiscated.
They were inflicted with serious injuries on their heads, hands and other parts of their bodies and had to be rushed to Maitama General Hospital for treatment.
Confirming the development, the Managing Director, G-Complex Nigeria Ltd, Abdulhamid Mahmud Zari described the action of the revenue collectors as illegal in view of the fact that it contravenes the law.
Section 3 of the Levies Act of 1998 stipulated that no person including a tax authority shall mount a road block in any part of the federation for the purpose of collecting any tax or levy.
The Act states, “A person who collects levies or tax or mounts a road block or causes a road to be mounted for the purpose of collecting any tax or levy in contravention of section 2 of this Act is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of N50,000 or imprisonment for three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”
Zari said that as a construction company, it was wrong for the revenue collectors to be demanding sticker permit when the company is already fulfilling its obligation to the government in the area of taxes.
He said, “The Company was registered in 2012 for the purpose of employing Nigerians in environmental projects, construction and other businesses in the FCT,
“We have contributed to many projects such as waterways projects in Jahi, we have constructed a road that leads to Gishiri village and we are also working on a road to AP filing station. As a construction company, you must have service vehicles and these are some of the vehicles here at Utako Police station.
“These vehicles on daily basis move staff and materials from one point to another and this company has employed more than 2,000 workers.”
Explaining how the construction workers were attacked, he said, “Yesterday I was called by the driver of this pick-up that on his way to convey materials and take staff from Idu to our yard in Jahi, hoodlums blocked him at Gwarimpa junction and demanded that he should provide daily receipt of Abuja Municipal Area Council and he said he works for a construction company and there is no need for him to have such receipt.
“From that point, these people insisted that it is either he pays the money or they will confiscate his vehicle and because they are in large number, he succumbed that he would pay the money.
“They demanded N200 and as soon as he brought the money out to pay, they demanded the particulars of the vehicle. As soon as he showed them, they said the car does not have a sticker which they said is being sold for N35, 000.
“So he was now forced to call superior officers of the company and when those officers left from Idu to where the issue was happening, before they got there, they had towed the vehicle to their office in Jabi.”
He said when the senior member of staff of the company arrived the AMAC Office to find why the vehicles were impounded, they were attacked by revenue collectors.
He added, “When this staff got there, it was already late in the evening. The moment they saw the company staff coming, they started harassing them. They used cutlass to cut seven of our workers. Some had matchet cuts on their heads; others had their hands chopped off.
“Luckily for us, there was a police team on patrol that went there to intervene and helped to bring the vehicles here. There is one particular sad statement made by these people when I came this morning which is that the police is their own and that nobody can do anything to them.
“And this appears to be true because as at this moment, none of the operators have been arrested by the police.”
He called on the FCT Administration to call to order the Local Government Chairman, alleging that the chairman is the leader of those harassing people under the guise of revenue mobilisation.
He added, “This should stop. The FCT Minister may not be aware of this development and there is need to bring his attention to it.
“It is painful for somebody to wake up and go to work and end up going back home with one hand and nobody is saying anything about what happened. We are calling on the government to take prompt action and bring this people to book.
“These thugs are behaving like terrorists in the FCT. No law is backing these people to do what they are doing. The law is clear that any person that blocks government road in the name of collecting levy or taxes is liable of three years imprisonment or fine of N50,000 or both.
He lamented that despite the fact that the matter has been reported to the Utako Police Station, the police had yet to arrest the perpetrators of the act.
He said, “My people are in Maitama General Hospital now. The police said they will invite the AMAC people and up till now, they have not been invited. These people are not supposed to be invited, they are supposed to be arrested and prosecuted.
“These people go about with dangerous weapons and inflicting injury on people under the guise of mobilising revenue.”
He threatened that if nothing is done by the Police or the FCT Administration, the Company will have no other option than to go to court.
“We will write to the government, if they don’t do anything, we will take legal action,” he added.
When contacted, the Head of Operations, AMAC Task Force on Haulage, Light and Heavy Duty Vehicles, Douglas Badi, told THE WHISTLER that it was the construction workers that started the attack on the revenue officials.
He said, “When the driver was brought to the office I told him he should not pack as I didn’t want a situation where you’ll start having physical contact.
“He now talked to the boss who told them that he is going to send his boys. I sat with some of our staff and I saw some boys numbering about 30, they were coming from the other side of the road where their vehicles were packed.
“We now sent two of our staff to the other side to do surveillance there. We traced them there and when we saw them, we asked the security to detain them. We came back to this place and the next thing we saw was that one of their staff struck our staff with a shovel on the face and on his hand.
“Right now, the doctors at the Gwarimpa General Hospital are going to carry out a major corrective surgery on his hand because the thing affected his vein that he cannot move his hand.
“When this happened we held their boys and in the process, the police said we should tow the hilux because we deflated the tyres.”
He said the vehicles had already been moved to the Police Station in Utako for further investigations.