It is an open secret that alcohol licensing offices, as well as agencies that are saddled with the responsibility of generating Internal Revenue for State governments across the country, are involved in massive extortion and exploitation of unsuspecting business owners.
This extortion spree is alleged to be the usual practice of the Lagos State Government Revenue Task Force which is known amongst business owners especially owners of bars, lounges, hotels and entertainment centers as rogues who will stop at nothing to fill their pockets at the expense of business owners.
A practical instance is the recent experience of a bar owner in Victoria Island who alleged that officers of the Lagos State Alcohol Licensing Office have been collecting N200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) from her every month for 4 (Four) years, an amount which is meant to be paid by club owners as against the approved N20,000 (Twenty Thousand Naira) meant for Lounges/Bars.
SecretReporters gathered that these alcohol licensing officers who refused to give the official account number to the bar owner after collecting the over-bloated amount usually remits the stipulated N20,000 (Twenty Thousand Naira) meant for bar owners to the Revenue Office after which they will divide the remainder amongst themselves. This illegal extortion when calculated amounted to over N2,160,000 (Two Million One Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira) in a year and a jaw-dropping N8,640,000 (Eight Million Six Hundred and Forty Thousand Naira) for four years.
This nefarious act by these cold hearted licensing officers would have continued but for the intervention of a friend to the bar owner who educated her on the approved amount she is meant to pay being N20,000 (Twenty Thousand Naira).
It was gathered that at the end of the month, the callous officers who came to collect “bread” as usual were surprised as the bar owner handed over N20,000 (Twenty Thousand Naira) to them. In other not to blow their cover, they quietly issued her a receipt without any argument.
However, having noticed that she has been played for a fool for the past four years, the bar owner immediately demanded for a refund of the difference of N180,000 which they have fraudulently collected from her amounting to over N8,640,000 (Eight Million Six Hundred and Forty Thousand Naira) when multiplied for four years.
This according to our source brought the officers into a quagmire of confusion as they began pleading while sweating profusely asking the owner not to take the matter before the relevant authorities.
There are insinuations that this fraudulent activities being carried out by officers of the licensing office which has in no small way business owners would be swept under the carpet as soon as it gets to the knowledge of the authorities of the Lagos State Alcohol Licensing Office as this has been embraced as a norm.