…Urges NBA To Quickly Intervene
By Wole Adedeji, Ilorin
Some sections of the Finance Acts, 2021 and 2022 are unconstitutional, a member of the Taxation Standards and Practice Monitoring Committee of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, CITN, Francis Uzoma Ubani, has said.
Mr. Ubani, FCIT, who made this assertion in a petition he made available to journalists in Ilorin, Kwara State, said that the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, should therefore rise to the occassion in order not to give room for a ‘brazen violation’ of the wider Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He therefore wanted the lawyers’ apex organisation to take an official position on the matter without any further delay.
According to him, the unconstitutionality of some of the provisions of the Finance Acts, 2021 and 2022 amounted to the acts of unlawful and illegal collection; while the recovery and distribution of revenues from stamp duties/electronic money transfer levy, EMTL, by the Federal Government of Nigeria is an act that is contrary to the provisions of Section 163 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, and which needed to stop.
He also averred that there is a need for all Federal Government institutions, money deposit banks and individuals involved in monetary activities to be more transparent and obey the rule of the law on stamp duties/EMTL collection, recovery and distributions as enshrined in the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as altered, as well as the Stamp Duties Act, as amended.
Ubani said, “Deposit Money Banks, DMBs, and financial institutions should henceforth STOP remitting qualified chargeable stamp duties/EMTL accruable to the different federating states of the federation, pursuant to Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act, as amended, to the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and start henceforth to remit to the ‘relevant tax authorities in the various federating states of the federation as applicable.’
“The different federating states of the federation have a duty to explore and track the recovery of stamp duties/EMTL that accrue to both the Federal and state governments, pursuant to Section 4(1) and 4(2) and Section 163(a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, and to recover back, years of unremitted stamp duties from banks and other companies in the various sectors of the economy.
“It is obvious that the activities of the Federal Government through the FIRS, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and DMBs, in the collection, remittance and distribution of stamp duties/EMTL, is shrouded with a lot to be desired, and calls to question as to the motive behind the unwholesome actions of the Federal Government, and its agencies, the FIRS and the CBN in this regard.
“Section 4(1) and 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act, and Section 163 (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, are very clear and unambiguous on taxing powers of the Federal and state governments on issues of stamp duties and capital gains tax in Nigeria.”
Ubani therefore said that “the unnecessary controversies surrounding stamp duties/EMTL are clearly caused by the lack of transparency in the collection, remittance and distribution of stamp duties/EMTL on the part of the Federal Government, and its agencies – the FIRS and CBN – on how much stamp duties/EMTL that has been generated, pursuant to Section 4(1) and 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act.”
He continued, “Therefore, I urge all Federal Government institutions, DMBs and individuals involved to be more transparent, observe and obey the rule of law on stamp duties/EMTL, collection, recovery and distribution, as enshrined in the relevant provisions of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution, as altered, and Stamp Duties Act, 2004, as amended, as when INJUSTICE becomes LAW; RESISTANCE becomes a DUTY.
“In the light of the very clear provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Stamp Duties Act, it is obvious that the Federal Government, through the FIRS has no “constitutional right” to demand and collect stamp duties, pursuant to Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act.
He further argued that “this section of the law relevant to the functions of the FIRS are not provided for them by the Constitution to collect. I believe that we have been able to set the record straight and hereby enjoin the Federal Government, through the FIRS to desist from further usurping the powers of the different federating states of the federation forthwith.
“In conclusion therefore, the continuous sharing through Federation Account of stamp duties/EMTL is a total violation of the provisions of Section 163 of the 1999 Constitution.”
He further said that without the proper amendment of the relevant provisions of the said Constitution, it would be a huge slap on the sensibility of members of the NBA, and the legal profession in Nigeria, and therefore should STOP forthwith, through the official intervention on this very all-important constitutional and purely legal issue.
Ubani averred that the “legal profession in Nigeria is a noble profession that should not give room to brazen violation of the Constitution of Nigeria.”