The suit brought by MTN Nigeria Limited challenging the legality of the assessment of N242 billion and $1.3 billion by the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, for import duties and withholding tax could not go on as scheduled on Monday because of the absence of the judge handling the case, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke.
Justice Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, was said to have gone on an official duty. The case was adjourned to February 7, 2019.
It would be recalled that MTN had instituted the suit by a writ dated Sept.10, challenging the legality of the AGF’s assessment of its import duties, withholding of tax and value added tax in the sums of N242 billion and 1.3 billion dollars.
MTN claims in the suit that a revenue assets investigation allegedly carried out by the Federal Government on MTN for the period of 2007 – 2017 violates Section 36 of the Constitution. It also added that the government’s decision conveyed through the office of the AGF, by a letter dated Aug. 20, contravenes the provisions of the section.
The company is therefore praying the court to declare that the defendant (AGF) acted in excess of his powers by allegedly directing, through a letter dated May 10, an assessment, which MTN claims, usurped the powers of the Nigerian Customs Service to demand import duties.
MTN also alleges, among other things, that the AGF usurped the powers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service to audit and demand remittance of withholding tax and value added tax.
It seeks a court order vacating the AGF’s letter dated Aug. 20, demanding N242 billion and 1.3 billion dollars from MTN, while also claiming N3 billion against AGF as general damages, exemplary damages and legal costs.
It his preliminary objection, the AGF argued that the plaintiff (MTN) instituted the suit in disregard to Section 2 of the Public Officers Protection Act – which provides that any action against a public officer must be made within three months from commencement of cause of action.
AGF argued that plaintiff’’s failure to begin the suit as stipulated by law robs the court of its jurisdiction to entertain the case.
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