The Benue Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) has implicated the Nigerian Army in the abduction of five of its tax officers on Monday.
The agency on Tuesday said the army had released the abducted officers following the intervention of Governor Samuel Ortom.
PREMIUM TIMES had on Monday reported a statement by the BIRS that unknown gunmen abducted five tax officers at the service’s inspection point in Vandeikya Local Government Area of the state.
It said the gunmen, dressed in military uniform, drove in a Hilux van and three motorcycles and invaded the BIRS inspection point in Vandeikya.
It said the attackers set fire on a staff motorcycle, shot sporadically into the air before seizing five BIRS officers and injuring several others.
However, in a statement released via its official Facebook page on Tuesday evening, the agency said the Nigerian Army has released the abducted officers.
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The statement was also shared on the agency’s website.
“Staff of the Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) abducted yesterday at the Tse-Mker Inspection point today regained freedom.”
According to the agency, they were released on the orders of Governor Ortom.
“The governor who admonished the abduction and ordered for the release of the staff, has also tasked the security agencies, including the Army, to work in tandem with BIRS to ensure revenue security in the state.”
It stated that Mr Ortom further directed that his special adviser on security, the Executive Chairman of BIRS and the Adjutant of the 72 battalion resolve their disagreements towards forestalling further recurrence of the incident.
Officials keep mum
All government officials contacted in respect to the status of the kidnapped workers on Tuesday afternoon either denied the incident or refused to make comments.
The spokesperson of the police in the state, Catherine Anene, said she was not aware of the abduction.
“I did not receive such a report. I only saw it on social media,” Mrs Anene responded via telephone.
Also, an official of the BIRS, after confirming the kidnap, refused to comment on the case, when our reporter put a call across.
“I cannot speak on the case. Only the chairman can respond to you,” he said. He, however, refused to give our reporter the chairman’s telephone number.
The official also refused to disclose his name, but Truecaller, a telephone app, identified him as Alex Nevkaa.
The Chief press Secretary to the governor, Terver Akase, also did not pick our reporter’s call or respond to a text message.
While Mr Akase acknowledged the message, he ignored the request for an update on the abduction.
The spokesperson of the Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, also did not respond to multiple calls and text message sent by PREMIUM TIMES.