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ONE year after ICIR-funded investigation on how thugs in Rivers State are used by local governments in Port Harcourts to collect illegal taxes from small businesses, governor Nyesome Wike has suspended the council Chairman, Hon. Victor Ihunwo.
Wike also suspended tax collection for SMEs including shop owners such as hairdressers in Rivers State for the year 2020.
He directed traders at the Ogbum-nu-Abali Fruit Garden Market to stop dealing with anyone who claims to be acting on behalf of Port Harcourt Local Government Area.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said in a statement that the state government has also removed JAAC Accounts from all the banks that gave loans to some local government councils without the authorisation of the state
In July 2019, freelance journalist Kelechukwu Iruoma visited six popular markets in Port Harcourt, including the Ogbum-nu-Abali fruit market and exposed thugs who forcefully harassed and collected illegal taxes from small businesses.
The report, which won the 2019 tax reporting category of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Media Excellence Awards showed how illegal tax collection has created stumbling blocks to local businesses in the state.