The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in Akwa Ibom says it will Investigate the extent of tax evasion and prosecute culprits in the state.

The state Tax Controller, Mrs Mafiana Uche, gave the warning while briefing newsmen in Uyo on Thursday.

Uche said the Federal Government was not happy with the rate of tax evasion in Nigeria, pointing out that companies found culpable would be charged to court.

She said that some companies close their books from being examined by tax auditors, while others whose books were examined fail to pay their taxes.

Uche categorised tax evaders into three groups: those who hide their books of accounts from tax officers, those who allow their books to be examined but never pay their taxes, and those who do not register with the tax office.

The controller said that the country would not develop if individuals and companies evade tax.

“There are places we visit for audit purposes, when we get there, people do not cooperate with tax officers by opening their books and other necessary documents for audit.

“They keep restraining our people and postponing the auditing to evade payment of tax,’’ she said.

According to her, tax evasion in Nigeria is a criminal offence, this is why we are using this avenue to sensitise the public on the necessity of being tax compliant.

She, however, said that it was not the wish of the Federal Government to coerce any organisation to pay tax.