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$1.3bn withholding tax: MTN’s suit against Attorney General fixed for Dec. 3

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, sitting at a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Thursday fixed Dec. 3 for hearing of a suit filed by MTN Nigeria Communication Ltd against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) challenging the legality of N242 billion and 1.3 billion dollars import duties and withholding tax assessment.

The court fixed the date for hearing of all pending applications after counsel representing both parties had informed the court of their various applications filed and served.

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On Thursday, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) with other senior lawyers appeared for MTN, while Mr T.A Gazali, a Chief State Counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, appeared for the AGF.

The counsel informed the court of the various processes filed before the court and served on respective parties to the suit.

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Following this development, Justice Aneke set Dec.3 for hearing of all pending applications before the court.

It will be recalled that MTN instituted the suit by a writ dated Sept.10, challenging mainly, the legality of 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.

In its writ of summons, MTN is seeking declaratory reliefs on the following grounds:

A declaration that the purported “Revenue assets investigation” allegedly carried out by the Federal Government on MTN, for the period of 2007 – 2017, and its decision conveyed through the office of the AGF by a letter dated Aug. 20, violates the provisions of Section 36 of the constitution.

A declaration that the AGF acted in excess of its powers, by purporting to direct through its letter of May 10, a “self assessment exercise” which usurps the powers of the Nigerian Customs Service to demand payment of import duties on importation of physical goods.

A declaration that the AGF acted illegally, by usurping the powers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, to audit and demand remittance of withholding tax and value added tax.

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.

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.

In addition, the plaintiff wants 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.

Besides, MTN is claiming a total sum of N3billion in damages against the defendant, which covers General damages, exemplary damages, and legal costs.


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