In a bid to put an end to illegal revenue collection in Imo State, the police, in conjunction with the Department of State Services, have arrested 16 suspects for offences bordering on illegal revenue collection.
The suspects were said to have being involved in vehicle licence racketeering, touting, production/issuance of fake vehicle licences and production/issuance of fake driving licences.
Those arrested include, Chioma Anyanwu, 23; Chiamaka Adindu, 25; Salome Chibogwu, 40; Kelechi Anyanwu, 28; Kingsley Onwuzugha, 40; Chidimma Uwakwe, 37; Chinedu Chimezie, 36; Mbalisi Emeldah, 31; Donatus Onyenze, 35; and Matilda Anyanwu, 43.
Others are Obinna Okoro, 30; Anderson Anugwara, 32; Esther Anozie, 21; Justina Onyewuchi, 39; Ogechi Iwuji, 29; and Ijeoma Udechukwu, 36.
Briefing journalists, the Special Adviser to Governor Emeka Ihedioha on Security, Mr Raymond Nkemdirim, said that the suspects were arrested on Thursday, July 4, 2019, around 11.15am based on an intelligence report.
Nkemdirim stated that the arrest was ordered by the state government with a view to sanitising the revenue collection system in the state.
He said, “Owing to incessant illegal revenue collection in the state and in the bid to rebuild Imo State, the administration of Governor Emeka Ihedioha directed that those involved in the illicit business should be arrested.
“It was on that premise that the joint operation of the police and the DSS was carried out, which led to the arrest of the 16 suspects. They will be arraigned in court in accordance with the appropriate laws.”
The governor’s aide stated that the illegal revenue collectors loiter around the premises of the licensing office under the State Board of Internal Revenue to defraud motorists.
Nkemdirim stated, “They collect old motor documents from the owners and arrange with the licensing office workers to validate them. They divert money, which is supposed to be paid into the state government’s coffers, into their private accounts.
“The illegal collectors also arrange with the workers to issue new vehicle documents to motorists.”
He added that Ihedioha’s government would not condone any form of illegal revenue collection in the state, adding that it was determined to re-build the economy of the state to an enviable height.
Nkemdirim called on residents of the state to shun the patronage of fake and unauthorised issuers of vehicle documents, just as he added that anyone caught would face the full wrath of the law.
However, one of the suspects, Chibogwu, stated that she went for “capturing” of her vehicle documents as was directed by the Federal Road Safety Corps before policemen arrested her.
Chibogwu, who said she was a pastor’s wife, added. “The capturing had already taken place and on my way to another office as the workers of the licensing office directed me, a group of armed policemen ordered me to stop.
“They told me that I was under arrest. They carried me and other arrested innocent citizens, who came for other legitimate business, to the state police command headquarters and charged us with illegal revenue collection. Since that Thursday, July 4, 2019, they dumped us in various cells and are now parading us.”
Another suspect, Onwuzugha, stated that he was an employee of the Owerri West Local Government Area of the state, adding that he came to photocopy some documents and was arrested outside the licensing office.