$1.3bn Withholding Tax: MTN Withdraws N3b Suit Against FG

MTN Nigeria Communication Ltd on Thursday withdrew the N3 billion suit it filed against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

MTN had dragged the Attorney General before the court over alleged N242 billion and 1.3 billion dollars import duties and withholding tax assessments imposedonit by the government.

The telecommunication company discontinued the suit following Malami’s withdrawal of his demand for the contentious revenue indebtedness.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, Counsel for the federal government, Habibat Ajana told Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke that the AGF had withdrawn the demand letter from MTN.

Ajana brought to the attention of the judge, a January 8, 2020 letter by the AGF to MTN, wherein the Chief Law Officer said he had reviewed the issue and had decided to withdraw the demand letter for tax.

Following the development, counsel to MTN, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), stated that having withdrawn the demand letter, his client would also drop its suit against the AGF.

Read Also: $1.3bn Withholding Tax Suit: AGF, MTN May Settle Out Of Court

Consequently, Justice Aneke struck out the suit.

The AGF had in his withdrawal letter said he had decided to refer the matter to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) with a view to resolving contentious issues.

MTN had gone before the court, seeking the sum of N3 billion in damages against the federal government for what it described an illegality premised on a process which is malicious, unreasonable and made on incorrect legal basis.

The telecommunications company had argued that the AGF’s assessment of its import duties, withholding tax and value-added tax in the sums of N242 billion and 1.3 billion dollars was an legality.

MTN had sought among other declaratory reliefs, a declaration that the AGF’s demand of the sums of N242 billion and 1.3 billion dollars from MTN, is premised on a process which is malicious, unreasonable and made on incorrect legal basis.

A Declaration that the purported “self assessment” exercise instituted by the AGF via its letter of May 10, is unknown to law, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

In addition, the plaintiff had sought a court order, vacating the AGF’s demand letter dated Aug. 20, for the sums of N242 billion and 1.3 billion dollars from MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd.

But, in its preliminary objection, the AGF argues that the plaintiff seeking redress to the subject matter, has just three months from the date the cause of action arose, to institute the action.

The government had further argues that the plaintiff commenced the suit in clear disregard to Section 2 of the Public Officers Protection Act, which provides that any action commenced against a public officer, must be N3 billion fundamental human rights enforcement suit it filed against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN before a Federal High Court in Lagos.mitted that plaintiff’s failure to commence the suit within three months as stipulated by law, robs the court of jurisdiction to entertain same.

The court dismissed the AGF’s preliminary objections and had fixed Thursday for hearing of the main suit.

30th November 2021
Nigerian Pantagraph
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