By Dipo Olowookere
Traders in Abia State have secured a court ruling directing the state government to reduce the number of taxes and levies it collects from them.
On October 18, 2018, the traders approached Abia State High Court sitting in Aba, seeking to stop the state government from further collecting what they described as illegal fees.
They claimed that the Abia State government forces them to pay Armed Forces Remembrance Day levy, sanitation levy, sweeping levy, environmental levy, clean-up levy, scooping levy, ASEPA levy, fire extinguisher levy, shade numbering levy, security levy, market development levy, infrastructure levy, Bakassi levy and tax.
In the suit, the traders joined the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Commissioner for Solid Minerals and Environment and the Aba South Local Government Chairman as co-defendants.
Ruling on the matter, Justice Uche Enwereji ordered the state government and the traders at Ngwa Road Market (Ahia Ohu), Aba, to sit together to agree on what levies should be collected.
Giving judgment also on counsel to the traders, Mr Victor Agwu’s plea to stop further collection of the levies by the state government, the judge ordered the traders to continue paying the levies they believe were legal pending when the case would be determined.
Mr Agwu had argued that despite the fact that the matter was in court, the traders were still being forced to pay the “illegal levies.”
He had urged the court to give an order stopping the collection of any form of levy from the traders by government agents pending the determination of the case.
But the defence counsel, Ogwo Uko, argued that since the plaintiffs approached the court to seek relief from what they described as illegal levies only, it would be wrong for the court to grant them a relief they never sought by granting a blanket order stopping the collection of any form of levy.
He prayed the court to order the traders to continue paying the levies they believe were legal.
Meanwhile, Justice Enwereji has adjourned the matter to June 28 for further hearing.