We continue to act on the subject matter which is a priority matter to H.E Governor Kayode Fayemi and the Government of Ekiti State, Nigeria. We empathise with all those who were affected by the circumstances surrounding the referenced enforcement exercise and apologise for the inconveniences.
We acknowledge that there were many things that should have been done differently and are committed to ensuring we use the key learnings from this incident to forestall a reoccurrence in the future.
Since we came to learn about the matter, as mentioned in our February 18, 2021 statement, we visited the school and ascertained that no pupil was being held and that there was unrestricted access in and out of the school. We have since conducted follow-up visits to the school and engaged a broad range of stakeholders including the school authorities, the Parents Teachers Association (PTA of the school, as well as National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) and can confirm that normal educational activities are going on at the school. we also engaged extensively with the authorities at the Ekiti State Internal Revenue Service (EKIRS) especially the officials involved in the exercise. We have listened to all parties on the matter and the following steps have been taken:
- Schools as Safe Spaces: We recognise that schools are safe spaces and should be recognised as such. We have thus secured the assurances of the EKIRS that henceforth, no enforcement exercises should be carried out in schools during school hours. tax enforcement in educational institutions henceforth must be in concert with the Ministry of Education.
- Emergency Ministry of Education Contacts for Schools – There are existing protocols to ensure that every school in Ekiti state can reach a contact person in the Ministry of Education concerning emergencies or matters of safety and security during school hours, and even after hours in cases of boarding schools. This policy and the relevant contact details would once again be disseminated widely with stakeholders – in this case to all private schools through the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS).
- Tax Issues for Education Institutions for 2020 – We recognise that with the COVID-19 pandemic, income of many businesses was severely affected in year 2020, especially educational institutions. In addition to the measures taken so far by government to help individuals and businesses cope with the impact of the pandemic, we are facilitating an engagement between the Ekiti Internal Revenue Service (EKIRS) and the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), to discuss ways of supporting school owners.
- Mr Governor has instructed that all government officials be reminded that in line with our ethos and track record, we serve at the pleasure of the people, and any acts of impunity by any government official would not be tolerated.
We would like to use this medium to reiterate that while we remain committed to effective tax administration and enforcement in the state, the Government of Ekiti State places a high premium on the protection of vulnerable segments of the society, including our children, and would not condone any acts that would put them in harm’s way.
Akin Omole is the Ekiti State Commissioner for Information and Values Orientation.
His statement is in reaction to the action of officials of the Ekiti State Internal Revenue Service (EKIRS), who locked up pupils and staff inside Adonai School, Ado-Ekiti, over alleged tax evasion.