Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, on Tuesday ordered the arrest and detention of a former Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Chief Abia Onyike, over alleged tax evasion and economic sabotage.
Onyike, The PUNCH learnt, was arrested by policemen and was detained for some hours at the Command Headquarters, in Abakaliki.
The governor, it was further gathered, had through his Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Chief Stanley Emegha, written a petition to the police in the state, alleging that the former commissioner refused to pay his tenement rate and other taxes to the state government.
The PUNCH reports that the former commissioner was in charge of the Media Directorate of Umahi’s Divine Mandate Campaign Organisation in 2015 and had been a constant critic of the current administration since he left the government in 2019.
Confirming the arrest, Emegha said the government would ensure that the former commissioner was prosecuted.
He said, “You can’t own such a place and then you won’t be paying tenement rate or something to the local government.
“Security is key in every society. If you don’t pay tenement rate, tell me how government would raise money to take care of the state in terms of security.
“If tomorrow, armed robbers storm the place because there is no security, he will start complaining. Tell me why someone would not want to pay his or her taxes or tenement rate. This is why we went on to enforce it.
“Before I wrote that petition, I had to find out from the Board of Internal Revenue about his tax payment status. I didn’t just write to him alone. I wrote to so many others.”
When contacted on the telephone, the former commissioner said, “I was arrested and detained for hours, for unjust reasons. The idea is to silent me from exposing the ills of the current administration in the state.”