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Abubakar Malami

The Anambra State Board of Internal Revenue has sued the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mohammed Name, over the provision of Section 27 of the Finance Act, 2021.

The Act amended Section 89A of the Stamp Duties Act and subscribed to the Minister of Finance, enlarged powers to regulate, subject to the approval of the National Assembly, the imposition, administration, auditing, accounting, collection and remittance of Stamp Duties on electronic receipts in respect of instruments initiated and executed or transaction initiated and carried out between persons or individuals, “which by Law, is accruable to the different States of the Federation, pursuant to Section 4 (2) of the Stamp Duties Act, 2004, as amended.”

The suit is before a Federal High Court in Awka, the Anambra State capital, ThisDay reported.

Counsel to the plaintiff, David C. Onyilofor, brought the application in an originating summons in the matter which has been assigned to Justice H.A. Nganjiwa.

A copy of the suit with reference No. FHC/AWK/CS/03/2022, supported by an affidavit by the plaintiff’s consultant, Francis Uzoma Ubani, was made available to journalists last Thursday.

The plaintiff asked the court to determine if the above provision is not in conflict with the provisions of Sections 3(3), 111, 115 and 116(2) of the Stamp Duties Act, 2004, as amended; and whether it is not inconsistent with the provisions of Section 163 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, and therefore is null, void and of no effect whatsover, to the extent of the inconsistency.

Among other reliefs, it prayed the court for an order directing the defendants to forthwith, instruct all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and Financial Institutions to start henceforth, to remit to the plaintiff all Stamp Duties and Electronic Money Transfer Levies ( EMTL) to be collected in respect of instruments initiated and executed or transactions initiated and carried out between persons or individuals (whether electronically done or otherwise) within the territory of Anambra State, pursuant to Section 4 (2)of the Stamp Duties Act, 2004, as amended.

It also sought the order of the court mandating the defendants, that all the arrears of Stamp Duties and Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) already remitted to them by Deposit Money banks and Financial Institutions shall be distributed among the different States of the Federation on the basis of derivation, pursuant to Section 163 (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.

It equally asked the court for a declaration that the purported directive of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), in its Press Release on Clarification of Administration of Stamp Duties in Nigeria with regard to the administration, collection and/or remittances of Stamp Duties in Nigeria, to License Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and other Financial Institutions in Nigeria, is unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.

According to it, this is because it seeks to the extent of interfering, has interfered and would continue to interfere with the powers and authority of the plaintiff as enshrined in Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act, CAP S8, Laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, as amended.

The plaintiff also prayed the court for an order mandating all Deposit Money Banks and Financial Institutions pursuant to Section 24 and 25 of the Stamp Duties Act, 2004, as amended, to submit to it forthwith, the records/evidences of all their remittances of the qualified chargeable duties and Electronic Money Transfer Levy so far collected, to the defendants in respect of instruments initiated and executed or transactions initiated and carried out between persons or individuals within the territory of Anambra State under Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act, 2004, as amended.

It also prayed the court for an order or perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, servants, workers and howsoever called, from interfering or otherwise continuing to interfere with the right of the plaintiff to collect revenue derivable from stamp duties and Electronic Transfer Levy in respect of instruments or transactions initiated and executed or carried out between persons or individuals within the territory of Anambra State pursuant to Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act, 2004, as amended in any form or disguise again.”

The plaintiff also urged the court to determine whether by the clear provisions of Section 163 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, Stamp Duties are supposed to be paid, when applicable to the State from which they are derived and NOT for the benefit, inter alia, of the Federal and State Governments and the Local Government Councils in each State on such terms as and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly pursuant to Section 162 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended?

It also required the court to determine whether the Stamp Duties collected by the Federal Government, through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) under Section 4(1)of Stamp Duties Act, 2004, as amended, can be paid into the Federation Account as directed by the FIRS, to Deposit Money Banks (MDBs) and Financial Institutions in paragraph 7 of the Press Release dated 20/7/2020?

It also asked the court to determine whether as currently constituted and administered, the said Constitution and the said Stamp Duties Act, did permit the infringement by the Federal Government through FIRS, into the area which, under the precise and well spelt out separation of powers enshrined in Section 4(1) and 4 (2) of the Stamp Duties Act, 2004, as amended, are within the exclusive preserve of the various States of the Federation?

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