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Stamp Duty: 36 state govts sue FG, demand N176billion refund


The 36 state governments have sued the federal government for allegedly refusing to remit funds generated from stamp duties into state governments’ accounts.

The plaintiffs suing through their respective attorneys-general, filed the suit against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, representating the federal government

They urged the court to order the federal government to refund over N176billion collected as stamp duties on individual persons’ transactions within their respective states for the period of 2015 to 2020.

They contended that the power to collect stamp duties lies squarely with the states and not the federal government.

The suit is coming at a time the Rivers State government is locked in a fierce legal tussle with the Federal government over revenues from Value Added Tax (VAT).

Recently, the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, had ruled in favour of the state over the VAT imbroglio, a decision the Federal government has since appealed against.

Prayers

In the case filed at the apex court, dated August 24 and marked SC/CV/690/2021, the plaintiffs urged the court to determine whether or not “having regard to the mandatory provisions of Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act Cap. S8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) the plaintiffs (all the state attorneys) are not the sole authority to administer and collect stamp duties on all transactions involving individuals/persons within their respective states?”

They further prayed the court to determine “whether having regard to the provisions of Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act Cap. S8 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria read in conjunction with the provisions of Section 163, items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule part I and items 7 (a) and (b) of the second Schedule part II and other provisions of the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the defendant (Malami) could claim, retain, distribute or in any other manner deal with the monies or sums collected as stamp duties on individual persons transactions within the respective states of the plaintiffs without reference to, concurrence of, input or agreement of the plaintiffs?”

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The plaintiffs also asked the court to ascertain whether or not they are “entitled to 85% of all stamp duties collected on electronic money transfer levy, on electronic receipts or electronic transfer for money deposited in deposit money banks and financial institutions, on any type of account to be accounted for and expressed to be received by the person to whom the transfer or deposit is made in the plaintiffs’ respective states.”

Among other prayers, they urged the court to declare that they “are the sole authorities entitled to administer and collect stamp duties on all transactions involving individuals within their respective states.”

The plaintiffs also asked the court to issue an order, compelling Mr Malami to account for and refund all monies collected by way of stamp duties on individual persons’ transactions within the respective states of the Plaintiffs from the period 2015-2020 and thereafter till the time of the judgment.

Other prayers sought by the state governments include:

“A declaration that the defendant is not entitled to collect, administer, or keep the proceeds of any stamp duties on transactions involving individuals within the respective states of the plaintiffs or any manner interfere with the Plaintiff’s right and authority in the administering the provision of Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act Cap. S8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

“A declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to all the sums of money collected by the defendant as stamp duties through whatever source or means in their respective states from 2015-2020 and thereafter till the time of the judgment of this honourable court with respect to individual persons’ transactions.

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“A declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to 85% of all stamp duties collected on electronic money transfer levy, on electronic receipts or electronic transfer for money deposited in deposit money banks and financial institutions, on any type of account to be accounted for and expressed to be received by the person to whom the transfer or deposit is made in the plaintiffs’ respective states.”

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant by himself, privies, agents or any persons by whatever name or how so ever called from appointing anyone for the purpose of collecting Stamp Duties on individual persons’ transactions within the respective states of the plaintiffs henceforth,” plaintiffs prayed the court.”

The suit has yet to be slated for hearing.

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