JUST IN: Bread Levy: Top Kogi official queried

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The permanent secretary of the Kogi State Ministry of Commerce and industry, Usman Ibrahim, has been queried over the controversial tax imposed on loaves of bread in the state.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the state government hired a consultant, Musag Enterprises, to levy bakers and caterers for every loaf of bread and confectioneries they produce in the state.

This was communicated via a memo signed by Mr Ibrahim and addressed to the chairperson, Association of Master bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Kogi State branch.

The levy became a subject of controversy because it came at a time businesses have barely recovered from the economic effects of the pandemic.

In a twist on Saturday, the state governor denounced Mr Ibrahim’s memo, saying he was not privy to the consultancy agreement between the ministry and a private firm.

“For the records, neither the Governor nor the state executive council has imagined or proposed such a devilish tax regime, how much less imposing same on any food or essential commodity, not to mention bread which is a table staple and the basic lifeline of many a household,” the statement read.

He also promised to punish any official who circulated such.

Query

In a letter issued by the the state’s Head of Civil service, Deborah Ogunmola, on Tuesday, Mr Ibrahim was queried for disseminating information on the levy.

She said the official had earlier denied issuing such when he was confronted.

“You may also recall that I called you to my office in the morning of 16 November, 2020 after my attention was drawn to same by an Official of Government, the aim of which was to confirm the truth from you. You vehemently denied having anything to do with the viral letter, which has brought so much embarrassment to the Government of Kogi State,” a copy obtained by PREMIUM TIMES read.

Mrs Ogunmola stated that investigation revealed that Mr Ibrahim acted without obtaining the approval of the commissioner in-charge of the ministry.

She said the permanent secretary’s action could earn him a dismissal.

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“Your action is clearly ultra vires of the Public Service Rules, Section 4 – 030402 (1). (N), and (0) which may lead to your dismissal from the service,” she said.

“This act of serious misconduct is unbecoming of an Officer of your calibre who is expected to be above board in conduct and in the performance of your duties.”

Mr Ibrahim was directed to give his response to the query within 24 hours of the receipt of the letter.



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