The school is alleged to be owing six years worth of taxes.
The Living Faith Church Worldwide, known as Winners Chapel, is in trouble with the Ogun State Government, following an accusation of tax evasion and alleged violent attack on officials of the state government who were at the church premises to effect the payment of outstanding taxes. The outstanding taxes cover six years according to Ogun officials.
The church is owned by one of Nigeria’s most influential and controversial cleric, David Oyedepo, who is also considered one of the richest clerics globally and who through hus church owns three private jets.
The taxes are allegedly owed by a school, Kingdom Heritage Nursery School, belonging to the church. The school, a private school, is located within the church’s headquarters in Ota.
The Ogun State Government addressing a press conference on Friday showed a video to journalists in which the tax officers were seen being assaulted and detained for three hours by staff of the school.
The chairman of the Ogun State Internal Revenue Service, Jide Odubanjo, explained that the service has the statutory power to access and inspect financial records in the premises of any business located within the state. He added that the recent inspection was in line with the state’s drive to ensure compliance with extant tax laws and enforcement initiatives undertaken daily across the state.
He said that it was in view of these that tax officials visited the school on Thursday, after several reminders to offset the debt were ignored by the authorities.
Mr. Odubanjo expressed shock at the behaviour of some staff of the school which led to the assault of the officials.
“As a result of this incident, an officer of the Ogun State Internal Revenue Service is currently hospitalised in Ilaro while others with minor injuries have been treated and discharged. Additionally, a number of assets belonging to (the) Service were damaged beyond repair,” Mr. Odubanjo said.
He noted that it was the intervention of the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, of Onipanu in Ota Division that led to the release of the allegedly detained tax collector by the school and church staff.
The chairman, accompanied by three commissioners in the state during the press conference, said a formal complaint has been lodged with the police, stressing that government would not tolerate any form of violence against any of its officers or agent in the lawful discharge of their duties. He added that the state government would bring criminal and civil charges against all the perpetrators of the incident and ensure that they face the full wrath of the law.
“We condemn in the strongest terms any act of violence perpetrated against officers in the discharge of their legitimate duties. It is shocking and disheartening to see uniformed officers of OGIRS being violently assaulted. We view it as the height of irresponsibility and lawlessness for any person or group of persons to assault government officials who are performing their lawful duties,” he said.
The school authorities as well as the church are yet to react to the tax and violence claims of the Ogun government while the police said they are already investigating the attack.
“We are aware of the assault on officials of Ogun state Internal Revenue Service. The case was reported at Onipanu police station in Ota and we are going to investigate the matter thoroughly,” the Ogun State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, told PREMIUM TIMES.