The Rivers State Signage and Advertisement Agency (RISAA) has vowed that it would not relent in the effort to recover the huge monies owed it by owners of billboards and signage in the State.
The Acting Managing Director of the Agency, Chief (Barr) Anthony Okeah who stated this during a routine demand notice exercise in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, said RISAA would no longer fold its hand and watch business operators abdicate its financial obligation to the State.
He said the agency had pasted a 'pay your bills' stickers on the billboards and signage of the respective business operators across the State, regretting that few months to the end of the year, these business organizations have blatantly refused to pay their debts.
“As you can see, we are almost going towards the end of the year and this exercise is to ensure that those people doing businesses who have serious exposures in terms of signage and advertisements particularly ought to pay their levies and bills as prescribed by the law setting up the Agency”, he stated.
He said the exercise was a reminder to these debtors, adding that the Agency was not selective in the exercise.
“Some of them have arrears of three years while some have not paid their bills since the inception of the Agency. Government is desirous of collecting all the levies and taxes that is due it from business operators. That is what we are doing and it is a continuous exercise”, he stated.
Chief Okeah said the Agency is tackling first, second and third party advertisers, adding that RISAA officials go out every day to ensure that no advertiser does so without authorization which according to him, explained why many illegal billboards that were installed by touts have been removed across Port Harcourt, the State capital.
“Even those that have been installed by registered professionals but who have failed or refused to maintain them and have no maintenance plans with the Agency are not condoned. When we allow that, we are encouraging environmental nuisance”, he said.
On those under the category of first party advertisers, the RISAA boss said they are those who own business organizations with signage within their premises, saying that where they violated in paying their bills, the Agency is empowered to seal up their premises and properties whether movable or immovable.
He said it is unlawful for any organization where notices have been pasted to pull off such notices, adding that the best bet was for the organization to comply with the demand as removing the notices would be contravening the law with its attendant penalties.
Chief Okeah further revealed that the demand notices would expire after seven days after which failure to comply would result to closure of the premises and prosecution of the defaulters.
“But we don't want to be coercive, that is why we are appealing that they do the needful, go and pay their bills or come to our office and make necessary enquiries”, he said.