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Tax evasion scandal: Geroge Akume spits fire over sealing of HAF Hotel

Written By Idoma Television on Monday, August 22, 2016 | 12:51:00 AM



The HAF Hotel shut by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) last week for tax default was not owned by Senator George Akume, his aide said yesterday.

FIRS, in a statement last week, attributed the ownership of the hotel to the former Benue State governor.

But a statement yesterday by Mrs Becky Orpin, special adviser to Senator Akume, said: “We wish to make it clear that HAF Haven Hotel is not owned by Senator Akume but by Hope Alive Foundation (HAF), an independent action-oriented Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). It was incorporated in 2002 with a board of directors.

“Senator Akume, given his humanitarian disposition to the disadvantaged, only identifies with the ideals for which HAF was incorporated.

“Hope Alive Foundation is a charitable non-profit foundation that takes care of widows, orphans and the physically-challenged in Benue State. It feeds and provides homes and workable skills to the underprivileged, and awards scholarships to indigent students.

“Unlike most foundations that rely on donations, HAF funds its humanitarian activities through revenue generated from such ventures as HAF Haven Hotel. Therefore, the hotel is definitively not the property of Senator Akume but of HAF.

“Apart from taking care of the underserved in Benue, HAF Haven Hotel is a law abiding corporate body that diligently adheres to tax regulations. We have not defaulted on payments as we have always endeavoured to make minimum payments.

“For instance, between 2011 to 2014, HAF Haven Hotel has paid a cumulative N1.1 million in taxes and N745,000, full payment, for the year 2014/15.

“Currently, HAF Haven Hotel has a minor dispute with FIRS over tax assessments carried out on the hotel. Our auditors detected duplications in the assessments and the tax comptroller in Makurdi was alerted.

“Unfortunately, the issues raised were yet to be resolved when the FIRS team from the headquarters  swooped in and summarily closed down the hotel, without listening to HAF’s petition.

“However, the hotel will work with FIRS to resolve this issue professionally. We believe that reason will prevail and the hotel will be reopened.

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