Market women in Anambra state today staged a protest against what they termed ‘heavy’ taxation, just as the State government announced closure of the central market in Awka, the State capital over non-payment of taxes by traders.
The women, who took their protest to the Anambra state House of Assembly, said it was improper to ask women to pay any form of tax at this time, given the prevailing economic difficulties.
They contended that as the down- trodden in society, who are just trying to make ends meet, to ask them to pay tax in the prevailing circumstance would amount to adding more to their burden.
The spokesperson of the women, Mrs Rita Ukachukwu, vowed that the women would not pay the tax.
It was learnt that the tax is N3000 per shop per year, and that this is due for the second year now, totalling N6000.
Ukachukwu said “women are not supposed to pay tax, besides we don’t have the money to pay. We are managing our lives.”
At the time of filing the report , the women were still barricading the State House of Assembly waiting to be addressed by the lawmakers.
Closing the Central (EKE AWKA) market, the Anambra state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Robert Okonkwo, said a notice was served on the traders last year about the intention of government to embark on the mission.
He wondered why anybody would not pay the tax of a place he or she does his or her daily business, adding that the market would remain closed indefinitely.
Also speaking , the Chairman of Board of Internal Revenue in the state, Nwanne Ejikeme explained that the state government did not levy any tax on women specifically, but that the said tax was on business shops.
He, however, said there was no law, to his knowledge, that prevents women from paying taxes in Nigeria.
He said “tax does not not know any gender. Some of the women are richer than you and me, so they should be able to pay tax to government for their shops.”
The Chairman of the central market, Emeka Agumadu said he would get back to his members to prevail on them to fulfill their civic obligation to government , adding however that petty traders like vegetable sellers were exempted from the government taxes.
Meanwhile the police had condoned off the market to forestall breakdown of law and order.