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Court strikes out MTN Nigeria’s suit against AGF, as FIRS, Customs take over tax probe

The Federal High Court has struck out MTN Nigeria‘s lawsuit against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. Justice C.J. Aneke had made the ruling a year and months after the telecommunications company instituted the case citing abuse of power.

The case was struck out after MTN Nigeria notified the court of its intention to drop the case following an out of court settlement between both parties. In November 2019, MTN Nigeria instituted a lawsuit against the AGF after the AGF demanded the sum of N242 billion and $1.2 billion for import duties, withholding and value-added taxes.

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MTN Nigeria had argued then that Malami acted beyond his powers and violated the provisions of Section 36 of the constitution on fair hearing with “the purported revenue assets investigation” he carried out on the firm’s activities covering 2007 to 2017.

However, on January 11, 2020, Nairametrics reported that MTN planned to drop its N3 billion lawsuit. MTN Nigeria’s withdrawal was cited in court by Habibat Ajana, the counsel for the AGF. This led to Malami informing the court that he had reviewed the issue and had decided to withdraw the demand letter for $2 billion tax.

FIRS and Customs taking over: With the AGF dropping its demand from MTN, the issue is expected to be transferred to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigeria Customs Service as directed by the office of the Attorney General.

This is expected to eliminate the abuse of power by the AGF as MTN Nigeria will now engage with the FIRS and Customs to resolve the alleged indebtedness of MTN Nigeria.

MTN meets with Pres. Buhari: Weeks after the report that the network provider was withdrawing its legal action against the AGF, MTN Group Limited’s Chairman, Mcebisi Jonas, visited President Muhammadu Buhari.

Pictures shared from the visit showed that Ferdinand Moolman, the CEO of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, as well as Ernest Ndukwe, the Chairman of MTN Nigeria, were among the MTN delegates. The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission, Garba Danbatta, was also present with the Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami.

While receiving the MTN delegates, President Buhari was said to have thanked them for the courtesy call. He also urged MTN to align itself with Nigeria’s digital economy policy and strategy.

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