Writer, Poet, Social Commentator
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, 1979, as amended, or in any other enactment or law, no person other than the appropriate tax authority, shall assess or collect, on behalf of the Government, any tax or levy listed in the Schedule to this Act, and members of the Nigeria Police Force shall only be used in accordance with the provisions of the tax laws.
(2) No person, including a tax authority shall mount a roadblock in any part of the federation for the purpose of collecting any tax or levy.
A person who –
(a) Collects or levies any tax or levy; or
(b) Mounts a road or causes a road block 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 N50,000.00 or imprisonment for three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.
The above Sections of the Law were taken from the Taxes and Levies Act, CAP T2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and contrary to your expectations, it has nothing to do with the Nigeria Police Force, who have in no way contravened these sacred provisions of our hallowed Laws which is currently being ignored by the raucous dismissal of many miscreants backed by legal authority. The Nigeria Police have, on the other hand, created for themselves a whole new Law, for which there is no rule, no procedure and hence no crime; something made possible by virtue of a very effective cocktail of ignorance, authority and threat. The grim specifics of thie effect of this cocktail I will leave to the suppressed voices of its colossal number of victims; the masses.
My focus therefore is on the subtler and yet deadlier crimes; one or more for which perhaps even the most docile Nigerian is guilty.
Having had the wild pleasure of travelling to every geo-political zone of this country by air, land and thankfully not by sea, I came directly faced with the menace of Local Government Tax Collectors in their various forms and modus operandi; from violent and ignorant attempts to stop moving vehicles with the aid of spiked planks, or laying siege at remote and uninhibited locations for unsuspecting motorists, to finally, and my personal favourite, the more pseudo-corporate approach of ‘gentlemen’ armed with ‘sweet tongues’ carrying out their legally authorised duties, while demanding all manners of regulatory stickers, drivers’ permits, vehicle approval sticker, pilot badge, basket permit, travel license, interstate permit etc.
To anyone who has been faced with any of the above scenarios and who has had to part with some money as a result, let me break it to you gently: you were robbed!
The Taxies and Levies Act above is clear as to what taxes and levies anyone or any authority can impose from time to time within the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This Law further provides that it is a crime for anyone to mount a blockade or refuse anyone right to movement, for the purposes of collecting taxes or levies.
I can conservatively estimate that this daylight robbery is committed an average of One Hundred (100) times daily in all the states in Nigeria, not by persons armed with deadly weapons of any sort, but by Local Government Officials, proudly flashing their respective Local Government issued Identity Cards, before proceeding to ‘rob’ innocent and unsuspecting motorists of their hard earned monies and sometimes with the aid of the Police too! These miscreants target lone drivers, visitors into their respective towns, vehicles laden with goods and remote areas. Their aim is to isolate the victim from information and rescue, as this illegitimately brewed cocktail is best served in ‘private and controlled environments’ where the victims are entirely at their captors’ mercies. These victims are more victims of ignorance and circumstance than of the alleged breach of any Law in force.
Speaking of victims of Ignorance, another erroneous ‘criminal right’, is the widely accepted use of the police in debt collection. A civil contract between two parties involving the conscious transfer of monies from one person to another ‘usually’ has no criminal bearing and thus requires only Civil Dispute Settlements. Regardless of this lack of criminality however, we often find very worrying misuse and abuse of the position of the Nigeria Police Force by individuals and body corporates from the lowest to the highest cadre of the community. More disturbing still, is that the Police have successfully failed to distance themselves from such issues. My advices: don’t borrow money to anyone you cannot afford to let go of, or retrieve in a civil manner.
It is said that the people get the government that they deserve. Thus an ignorant people will get an ignorant government. Not only does ignorance of the law refuse to be an excuse for wrongdoing, it will also translate the unenlightened and eventually their possessions, from ordinary ignorant folk to victims of potentially ugly circumstances. The ultimate result of this intense air of ignorance pervading the governors and the governed is intense suffering.
I am sure we have all either committed or been victims of several criminal acts as a result of a combined cocktail of ignorance, ranging from traffic law offences, to corruption, to debt collection etc.
What are some of these acts? Kindly drop a comment.