The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has expressed surprise that a company owned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo is on the list of over 19,000 tax defaulters recently released by the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS).
BMO says this is because of Obasanjo’s status as a national leader who has, since leaving office in 2007, been actively speaking on the imperatives of responsible leadership and nation-building.
The group said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, that the fact that Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited (OFN) is on the list of tax defaulting companies is a major indictment on the former President.
“It is a big surprise that a company owned by a former President who sees himself as the father of modern Nigeria is on a list of companies that have run foul of the nation’s tax laws.
“We also consider it a thing of shame for General Obasanjo not to pay taxes as at when due, especially as he is known to pontificate either at public fora or through open letters against societal ills, aside from launching scathing attacks against all sitting Presidents after him.
“We do not see why he should stop writing letters or speaking out against societal ills, but it would be hypocritical for him not to pay his company’s taxes as at when due. So our message to former President Obasanjo is-Keep writing open letters to Nigerians but do not forget to pay your taxes,” BMO said.
The group recalled that this is not the first time that Obasanjo Farms would run into trouble over unpaid tax.
“Sometime in 2018, the Oyo State Board of Internal Revenue shut down Obasanjo Farms in Ibadan because, according to it, ‘the organisation did not pay what it was supposed to pay as tax’.
“This move forced the OFN management to pay up before the farms’ premises were reopened for business.
“What is instructive in the action of the Oyo Revenue Board, almost exactly one year ago, is that it was after it had forcibly shut down the farms owned by the former President that the management deemed it fit to meet its tax obligations.”
BMO also hailed the FIRS for the bold step of naming the defaulting companies, not minding that many of them are linked to some of Nigeria’s influential persons. “It is a good step in the right direction and it will send clear signals to other high profile Nigerians about the seriousness of the agency to ensure that tax defaulters do not go scot-free.
“We see it as an act of infamy that a former President should be associated in this, and we know that in other climes, people associated with any of the 19,100 companies on that list of ignominy would be in court.
“We, however, hope it won’t come to that and that the former President would be mindful of Section 49 (2) (a- d) of the FIRS Act and ensure that his company pays the tax due within 30 days of the notice.
“Payment of tax is one civic responsibility that high profile individuals are expected to take seriously, like all other Nigerians, so it is gratifying that FIRS has refused to be intimidated by the political clout of General Obasanjo.”