The headquarters office of one of Nigeria’s biggest insurance companies, Industrial and General Insurance, popularly known as IGI, was shut last week by the Lagos State Government for tax evasion.
The headquarters of IGI, located on Victoria Island, was shut on Tuesday by the task force on the enforcement of taxes owing to IGI’s indebtedness to the tune of N120 million.
A source in the company told The Eagle Online that the task force team, which included riot policemen, arrived at the corporate headquarters of IGI at about 3pm.
It was gathered that they chased out all staff, including management staff, and locked up all the offices with chains and padlocks.
A source said: “Even some of the management staff who thought they were immune were walked out of their offices by stern looking riot policemen.
“In fact, a staff who went to the toilet was locked in.
“It took the intervention of staff who pleaded profusely for him to be let out.”
Part of the tax owed by the company is the Pay as You Earn, which is statutorily deducted from the salary of staff.
The issue was, however, sorted out late on Tuesday after the intervention of the Vice Chairman of the company, Remi Olowude, who is said to be in the United States of America, attending to his health.
Olowude is said to have been away for a few months now but is expected back in July.
However, it was learnt that this will not be the first time that the company would default in the remittance of its taxes.
It is said to be almost a yearly occurrence.
But one of the managers told staff on Wednesday that the locking up of the company was as a result of a misunderstanding between the Lagos State Government and IGI over the actual amount to be paid as tax.
The manager told the staff that the Lagos State Government was in the habit of just giving the company assumed bills as tax without actual verification.
The manager was reported to have said that the company wrote the state government over the issue in March but never got a reply until the task force moved in to close the company.
Meanwhile, a source within the company also revealed to The Eagle Online that IGI has shut its Ghana operations owing to non-profitability.
It was learnt that the company, which acquired a 60 per cent stake in Ghana’s insurance company, has been having it rough since it started business in the neighboring country.
Sources within the company said the business had been at a loss since inception until it decided to opt out.
The source said that the company acquired was in serious debt but that those who advised the company to acquire the 60 per cent stake either did not do their due diligence correctly to simply took the decision after they must have been induced.
The source said: “The Ghana operation was simply a liability.
“The company acquired was in serious debt.
“Anytime the company made money, no matter how little, you see those with claims showing up as a result of insider information.
“In fact, at a time, money was being moved from Nigeria to pay claims in Ghana.”
The Eagle Online gathered that owing to the frustration encountered in the Ghana operations, no fewer than four managers transferred from Lagos to oversee the office there resigned and left the company.
A source added: “But before the company opted out of the venture, it had lost a lot of money.”
The source added that there are fears within the rank of the company that its top heavy structure could sink it in no time, even in Nigeria.
The source added: “The company is making money, no doubt.
“But those who are making the money are not feeling the impact but those at the top.
“Imagine that the person standing in for the vice chairman in acting capacity is earning close to N1 million as allowances monthly for that purpose.
“And this is apart from his ordinarily hefty salary.
“That is how others at the top earn so much at the detriment of the company, which we have found out is affecting the health of IGI.”