Monday 1 January 2018

SARS Operatives Accused Of Killing Cross River Revenue Collector On Friday

Men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in the Cross River State Police Command have killed a revenue collector, identified as Edward Inyambe, and arrested another on the alleged orders of the  state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. Anthony Eneji.

Southern City News learnt on Sunday that the incident, which happened on Friday in Gakem, Bekwarra Local Government Area, was alleged to be an attempt to take over the collection of revenue of ‘non-cocoa’ produce from a consultancy firm appointed by the state Internal Revenue Service.

As of Saturday, aggrieved youths had burnt down some houses in reaction to the death of Inyambe and the arrest of another collector, Edward Idiege, by SARS operatives.

An eyewitness, Solomon Odey, alleged that the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Eneji, brought in some SARS operatives in a van to arrest some revenue collectors, who were said to have opposed his taking over the collection point in the area.

He said, “When the commissioner came in, some youths resisted the arrest of the collectors and blocked the area, not allowing the SARS operatives to leave with any of them. The situation angered the SARS operatives, who shot into the air and in the process, a stray bullet hit Edward. He died instantly.

“As soon as the news of Edward’s death filtered in, the youths went berserk, pulling down buildings and targeting the commissioner’s house, but for the quick intervention of the police that saved his house from being razed.”

The Principal Partner of Eraye Ventures, Prince Joseph Enu, the revenue consultant, said the commissioner had tried to forcefully introduce another consultant to the same revenue point with the aid of SARS operatives when the incident happened.

Enu, who claimed that he was legitimately appointed by the state Internal Revenue Service as collector in the Northern Senatorial District, said the commissioner had, without success, made many attempts to bring in another firm (Adaoshi Nigeria Limited) to take over the same job.

He said, “We are Eyare Ventures, revenue consultant appointed by the state Internal Revenue Service on produce inspection fee (non-cocoa) in the Northern Senatorial District. Our letter of award was dated September 18, 2017.

“We signed our consultancy agreement with the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice on October 26, 2017. A letter of introduction from IRS was written to the Commissioner for Agriculture on October 11, 2017.

“But since then, the commissioner, Prof. Tony Eneji, has resisted our move to take over the produce job. We were only able to take over the job about one week before the incident and since then he had made many attempts to forcefully take back the job.    He has been collecting money for almost two years now.

“The commissioner sent some SARS operatives there last Thursday and they shot dead one of my boys at the checkpoint. His name is Edward Inyambe. They also arrested another collector, Edward Idiege, with handcuffs and took him away. It is worthy of note that the SARS officials drove one of the commissioner’s vehicle in company with a consultant that he gave the job to.”

In his reaction, the commissioner, Eneji, denied sending SARS operatives to the checkpoint.

Eneji said, “There had been a recurring problem in that place since last year. It is a Ministry of Agriculture checkpoint for livestock and vet inspection. For most of the year, some local warlords have prevented the inspection team from working there.

“Over the period they have not been carrying out their professional duties. There are also some other workers who are revenue collectors as they call it. The local group formed a strong ‘militant’ group driving away my staff.

“The contractor that is being accused went there with some security operatives and the locals came out in their large number to resist them. It was what led to the unfortunate fracas. That innocent victim was not even a militant. The so-called SARS were not invited by me. We are finding a way to address the problem.”

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo, confirmed that a revenue collector was hit by a stray bullet from SARS operatives.

She said, “SARS men had gone there for intervention, but the youths attacked the SARS team and this forced them to shoot into the air. Unfortunately, a bullet hit one of the revenue collectors and he died.”

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