Coalition of Civil Society and Deltans on Tuesday took to the streets of Asaba, the Delta State capital, in a peaceful protest against a new tax bill sent to the state’s House of Assembly by the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, and refusal of the House to organise a public hearing.
The bill, which was introduced on the floor of the House for the first time on April 30, 2020, through a letter from the Delta State governor passed first and second reading on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively last week.
The protest led by the Director-General, Conference for the Actualisation of Human Rights, Maxwell Ogedegbe, charged the state House of Assembly to take a cue from their federal counterparts, who were halted over an accelerated process of the bill on infectious diseases upon public outcry for failing to conduct a public hearing.
According to the civil society organizations, inherent in the bill are provisions that empowers the executioner of the law to invade the houses and properties of Deltans for the purpose of carrying out assessment.
In a statement jointly signed by the Executive Director, Value Rebirth and Empowerment Initiative, Edewor Ogedegbe; chairman, Spy-In, Delta State, Efemena Umukoro; Coordinator, Civil Rights Council, Emmanuel Agbubi; National Coordinator, Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, Ozobo Austin, state chairman, Confab for Human Rights, Sunday Atiku and other leaders of CSOs in the state, called on all Deltans to mobilise against the bill and join the march for the suspension of the bill to ensure due process.
Receiving the protesters on behalf of the leadership of the state House of Assembly, Deputy Speaker, Ochor Christopher Ochor, called for calm and promised the protesters that message would be communicated to the leadership of the Assembly.
The controversial bill provides amongst others the establishment of the Delta State Internal Revenue Service, its board, powers, functions, administrative structure, staff welfare, discipline and financial provisions.