Written by Oyetunji Abioye
The President Arik Air Limited, Dr. Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, has been arrested by the Debt Enforcement and Special Prosecution Unit of the Federal Inland Revenue Service for the company’s alleged evasion, non-remittance of tax money and related offences.
A statement by the agency said the Arik boss was arrested along with the airline’s Senior Vice-President, Mr. Rob Thomas; Deputy Vice-President; Mr. Chris Ndule, and Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Steve Garroro.
The statement by the Head, DESPU, Mr. James Binang, said the suspects would soon be arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for alleged evasion and non-remittance of Value Added and Withholding taxes.
The airline officials were arrested following an earlier warrant obtained by the Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the FIRS against them.
The statement said that the airline was “among the top five undisputed non-paying corporate entities namely; Air Nigeria, Bank of Industry, Bellview Airlines and Daar Communications Plc, alleged to be involved in the crime.”
The statement added, “More so, Arik Air has the largest debt in this category with tax debts being assessed at N3,475,980,723.62.
“The airline had paid its tax liability totalling N1.63bn and later failed to honour an earlier payment schedule, which it had proposed in 2010 to the FIRS. Subsequently, FIRS scheduled a meeting with Arik Air requesting a firm commitment on the payment of its outstanding tax liabilities, but to no avail.”
The Federal Executive Council had on September 14, 2011, mandated the FIRS to recover all outstanding tax liabilities being owed by corporate bodies.
The statement noted, “Following this directive, the Service created the debt enforcement and special prosecution unit in order to achieve the mandate.
“The unit soon categorised the debts into three; the disputed N131bn, undisputed (paying) N16.8bn; and undisputed (non-paying) N22.3bn.”