– Demands demurrage of N140 million on late payment of taxes
United Bank for Africa (UBA) Nig Plc Mbari street and other branches in Owerri branch have been under lock and key since Wednesday December 13, 2017. This is following the order of the Governor of Imo state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
This was sequel to a court judgment in favour of a certain contractor who pleaded anonymity, when the branch went ahead to garnish Imo government account thus granting him immediate payment of the sum of Twenty Eight Million Naira, (N28 million) which the court ordered the bank to pay on behalf of the government of Imo state. According to court pronouncement, the account of Imo state government domiciled in United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc Owerri, should be garnished to enable the creditor get paid by the Imo state government. On receipt of the court judgment, the management of UBA at Mbari Street Owerri, which account was cited by the contractor, rushed to government House Owerri where they intimated Rochas Okorocha of the development. They made a representation that suggested that they are compelled to honour the ruling of a court of competent jurisdiction.
The Governor in his characteristic attribute of ignoring the rule of law advised the United Bank of Africa (UBA) officials against tampering with any government funds domiciled in the Bank or honouring the aforementioned court ruling. However, when the court sealed up the Bank at Mbari road, the management instantly garnished the account in favour of the creditor following what a source said was “total disregard of the Bank’s request for the Governor’s approval to pay the debt”, on behalf of Imo state government.
When the government learnt of the payment, they ordered the entire UBA branches, one at Mbari street by Mbonu Ejike, another along wetheral road and the other at Port Harcourt Road, Owerri, immediately closed. The source said he used armed policemen and officials of Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) under Mrs. Henrietta Jacobs to close down the branches. When the management protested, the agency allegedly demanded a demurrage of N140 million Naira accruing from the non remittance of taxes and vats collected on behalf of the Imo state government, thus accusing the bank of delay in doing so.
When our reporter visited the branches early Monday December 18, 2017 morning, they were still under lock and keys but customers were directed to go into the banking hall through the back door.
However, our source at the bank, disclosed that though the entrance gates were locked, the bank was using their mobile and marketing unit to attend to customers and that normal cash deposits and withdrawal of money were transacted over the counter without let, encumbrance of hindrances.