The head office of Premier Lotto Limited, the popular lottery firm owned by Chief Kessington Adebutu, was a scene of drama on Sunday as staff of the company forcefully prevented officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from sealing the premises over N789.6 million tax liabilities. The FIRS team, led by Anita Erinne, arrived at the office, located at 112 Funsho Williams Avenue, Surulere, Lagos, with a distraint warrant.
The company, popularly called “Baba Ijebu,” disputed the debt profile as its officials engaged the FIRS team in a hot argument.
A man who identified himself as Chief Adebutu’s son said, “We are not owing and you cannot close our company.”
As the drama wore on, the lotto magnate, accompanied by a bevy of security aides, arrived at the scene. He told the FIRS team that he was not aware that his company was in debt. The FIRS team leader revealed the debt profile to him after which Mr. Adebutu gave the go-ahead for the FIRS to execute the distraint warrant.
Mrs. Erinne then ordered the staff to vacate the premises, but a man, who identified himself as the accountant, told the staff to ignore the FIRS team leader.
As the FIRS officials made to leave, Mr. Adebutu’s son proposed that the company would pay N10 million out of the debt, something Mrs. Erinne rejected out of hand because the figure was too small.
In a bid to avoid an escalation of the situation, the FIRS team left the premises. The team also shut the office of Costain West Africa at 174 Funsho Williams Street, Ebute-Metta, over a tax debt of N2 billion. A similar fate befell Niger Insurance Limited, as its office located at 48/50 Odunlami Street, Lagos, was sealed. The insurance firm owes N526.8 million in taxes.
Equally affected was Goldlink Insurance Plc, situated at 6, Immanuel Street, Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos. The company has tax liabilities of N244 million.
Its officials pleaded for more time to enable the company pay up, but the plea was rejected. The team also sealed off Tracit Ventures Limited situated at 50, CAPPA Avenue, Palmgrove Estate, Ilupeju, Lagos over a tax debt of N25.3 million.