Palm Wine Sellers Paid Tax In Western Region, 1952!

Palm Wine Sellers Paid Tax In Western Region, 1952!

- By Erasmus Ikhide

IT has been hue and cry since Adams Oshiomhole-led administration come clean on enforcing the Federal, State, and Local Government tax laws as entrenched in our status books of taxation. It’s worthy of note to educate and silence the idle critics of Edo State tax administration and draw a critical balance between 1952 and 2006 tax laws where it is a must for every citizen of Nigeria to pay his or her tax as at when due.
I reproduce herewith word for word the edit of bye-laws under the Western Region Local Government Law, 1952, as applied to ‘‘Etsako District Council Public Health (Palm wine) Bye-Laws, 1955’’.
Read on: In the exercise of the powers conferred upon the Etsako District Council by virtue of Section 77 of Western Region Local Government Law, 1952 and Western Region Legal Notice No. 25 of 1954, the following bye-laws have been made by the Etsako District and council with the approval of the Minister of Justice and Local Government to whom powers of approval have been delegated.
1.     Short title: - These bye-laws may be cited as the Etsako District Council (Palm wine) Bye-laws, 1955, and shall apply not only to persons normally subject to the jurisdiction of the Etsako District Council; but to all persons whilst within the area of its jurisdiction.
2.     In these bye-laws
 (a) ‘‘The Council’’ means the Etsako District Council.
 (b) ‘‘Health Officer’’ includes a Medical Officer of Health, a Health Superintendent, a Sanitary Inspector or other person acting under the authority, whether general or special of the Medical Officer of Health and whether such Sanitary Inspector or other person is serving in the Medical or Health Department of Government or in the service of the council.
3.     All premises used for the sale of palm wine for its drink or consumption shall be registered annually in the office of the Council by the proprietor or occupier carrying on the business. the Council shall not register any premises under these bye-law until the premises shall have been inspected and approved by the Medical Officer of Health and certificate of suitability obtained as in the form ‘‘A’’ in the Schedule. There shall be paid in respect of every such registration a fee of ten (10%) shillings and the District Council shall issue a certificate of registration in the form ‘‘B’’ in the Schedule. Any such premises which are not re-registered in the month of January each year shall be deemed to be un-registered premises.
4.     The Health Officer shall at all reasonable hours inspect any premises wherein palm wine is exposed for sale or deposited for the purpose of a sale or of preparation for sale and intended for the drink of man, and if such palm wine appears to be unwholesome or adulterated or unfit for the drink of man, he may condemn the same and order it to be destroyed or so disposed of as to prevent it from being used for the drink of a man.
5.     If any Health Officer or Police Officer shall shown reasonable cause the Court may grant a warrant to enter any building if there is reason for believing that there is kept any palm wine intended for sale for the drink of man, and to search for, seize and carry away any such palm wine and other article in order to have the same dealt with by the Court.
6.     No dealer in palm wine shall have in his possession any palm wine which is unwholesome, adulterated or unfit for human drink.
7.     All dealers in palm wine shall at all times use clean receptacles for and shall so cover or arrange such receptacles so as to prevent the access of flies, dust or other contaminating agents to the palm wine
8.     All dealers in palm wine shall provide a sufficient number of drinking vessels which shall be thoroughly washed clean with water immediately after each use.
9.     All dealers in palm wine shall keep their premises, utensils, clothing and person clean to the satisfaction of the Health Officer.
10.  The sanitary arrangements and conveniences of all premises shall be to the satisfaction of the Health Officer.
11.  All the Health Officer shall consider that any premises used for the sale of palm wine should in the interests of the public health be closed; he may by notice of in writing prohibit the owner or occupier from using such premises until such time as the prohibition shall be withdrawn. A copy of such notice shall be sent to the District Council.
12.  All palm wine premises shall be lime-washed inside throughout once every six months or thoroughly cleansed periodically to the satisfaction of the Health Officer.
13.  No room used for the purpose of sale of palm wine shall be used as a sleeping apartment or communicate directly to any sleeping room.
14.  All palm wine premises shall be paved or concreted and drained to the satisfaction of the Medical Officer of Health.
15. The Health Officer may prohibit any person suffering from any disease or ailment from entering or remaining on any of the premises used for the sale of palm wine, should be for sanitary reasons deem it necessary.
16.  All doors of palm wine premises shall be made to open outwards.
17.  No water shall be used on any palm wine premises except that obtained from a source approved by the Medical Officer of Health.
18.  Penalties: -    (a) Any person who contravenes the provisions of bye-                   law 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, and 17 shall be liable on conviction to a fine of five pounds or to imprisonment for one month.
                            (b) Any person to whom it belongs or in whose possession or premises any adulterated or unwholesome palm wine is found shall be liable to a fine of ten Pounds for every article condemned and for any subsequent conviction to a fine of Fifty Pounds or to imprisonment for six months.
                            (c) Any person who hinders, prevents or obstructs any such officer in the performance of his duty under such search warrant shall be liable to a fine of Ten Pounds or one month’s imprisonment in default of payment.  
Did I hear your grunt in total disbelieve that such edit never exist in our status books? How about Nigeria tax system of 2006? Try and visit the archives. The laws of the land have made adequate provisions for taxation according to your earnings even before we became an independent nation. While my grandfather was paying what they know and called ‘‘Egho Uhunmon’’, meaning ‘head tax,’ along with property tax on his white-bicycle that borne a permanent insignia metal tag that indicates that he was a proud tax payer attached to its motor guide, a couple of other men who could not pay their ‘head tax’ have had to forcibly give the hands of their daughters out in marriage to avoid imprisonment since they are unable to pay their tax. Those who had no female children and had no money relocated on permanent bases to their farms to avoid tax officers.
This is no story; there is a song to that effect in my part of the world. The song goes thus ‘‘Egho uhunmon lada muvba, livare rovbi vba munose, vbase agbon’’. When translated, it means literarily that those – the very poor – who were arrested for ‘head tax’ invasion have been made to pay through their nose after the sales of their daughters under a tensed and highly dehumanized condition. 
As far as I’m concerned the only escape route, respite and channel of insightful hope for a self-afflicting nation as Nigeria and Edo is to respect the laws of the land, including that of taxation.
Erasmus Ikhide is the
Senior Special Assistant
Media Affairs to Edo State
Governor, Comrade
Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. 


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