Osun denies extortion, double taxation allegations by plank sellers

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…Closes two Forest reserves

By Sunday Oguntuyi, Osogbo

The Government of the State of Osun has denied the allegations of extortion and double taxation made by the Irewole and Isokan local government areas associations of plank sellers.

This is even as the State Government has temporarily closed the two forest reserves at the two Local Government areas over some series of illegalities, contraventions, and corruption being perpetuated by the plank sellers associations.

Recall that some plank sellers in Ikire and Irewole Local government area of the state had on Thursday, staged a protest against multiple taxation and alleged extortion by agents of the state.

The protesters lamented that their businesses have suffered serious setback as a result of what they called ‘fraudulent activities’ of the government agents.

Addressing journalists on Friday, Special Adviser to Governor Aregbesola on Natural Resources, Prince Tunde Ajilore, said the closure was to ensure that loopholes are blocked and to also checkmate some illegal operations in the forest.

According to him, some plank seller associations have continued to shortchange the state which has affected its Internally Generated Revenues (IGR), with millions being carted away by the plank sellers through illegal means.

In his words, “my department has not subjected them to any double taxation, what we charge is in consonance with the laws on revenue generation. Our primary responsibility is to mobilize revenue for the State in order to boost its IGR and we know what the law says about double or multiple taxation, we cannot act above the laws and cannot place unnecessary burden on our people, we only charge what the Federal Government and the State House of Assembly approved.

“The agitation is politically motivated and it is an attempt to force me and my staff to soft pedal on the series of illegalities, contraventions, and corruption being perpetuated by the plank sellers associations of Irewole and Isokan LGs which is not possible, we will not allow them cheat the government.”

Ajilore noted that until there is dialogue and the plank sellers associations show remorse over their illegal acts and also complied with the laws of the state, the government would not hesitate to deal with anyone caught.

“We have done our findings and we discovered that there is nothing like extortion from any of our staff. If the plank sellers have any evidence, let them come up with one instead of maligning or disparaging other people’s image.  At most, they can approach Court to seek redress.

“We are strongly appealing to the association to toe the most honourable part of peaceful engagement to resolve issues, not displaying any form of gansterism or rascality as we are open for negotiations and dialogue at any day or any time if they comport themselves,” Ajilore added.

In the same vein, the State Task Force Officer in the Ministry, Mrs Yemisi Adetipe, reiterated the SA’s stance, adding that the prank sellers are really short-changing Osun State Government.

She explained the ministry had not gone against the revenue mobilization committee in the collection of money as agreed with the associations.

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