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Court Dashes FG’s Hope on N2.5tn Stamp Duty Revenue



  • Court Dashes FG’s Hope on N2.5tn Stamp Duty Revenue

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has dashed the hope of the Federal Government to raise about N2.5tn per annum from stamp duties on bank lodgements with value of N1,000 and above.

Ruling on an appeal filed by Standard Chartered Bank against Kasmal International Services Limited and 22 others, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa and four others justices of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Judicial Division, held that the Stamp Duties Act, 2004 did not impose a duty on Deposit Money Banks to deduct N50 on deposits.

The Central Bank of Nigeria had in a circular issued to the DMBs directed them to deduct N50 for stamp duties on every deposit into a current account of N1,000 and above from January 1, 2016.

The circular, which has since been implemented by the banks, was in spite of the fact that there was a subsisting issue in the court on the subject.

Kasmal International Services Limited, owned by Senator Buruji Kashamu, had on February 17, 2014 obtained the judgement of a Lagos High Court to the effect that that the banks should remit more than N6bn they were supposed to have collected on deposits since the stamp duties became an Act of Parliament in 2004 through the company to the Nigeria Postal Services.

According to Kasmal, NIPOST had appointed it as an agent to collect the stamp duties on its behalf from banks and other financial services firms, adding that the banks should, therefore, remit the money accruing as stamp duty through it to the postal organisation.

However, in the lead judgment, Justice Saulawa held that the Stamp Duties Act imposed no such duty on the banks. In concurring rulings delivered by an Appeal Court panel, Justices Ejembi Eko, Adamu Jauro, Moore Adumein and Nonyerem Okoronkwo agreed in totality with the ruling delivered by Justice Saulawa.

The appellate court set aside the ruling of the lower court delivered by Justice C. J. Aneke on five grounds. The court held that in the first place, NIPOST had no power under the Stamp Duties Act to impose stamp duty on any person and could not have passed the power it never had to any other party.

On one of the grounds, Saulawa said, “It is trite principle that the best way of proving payment of money into a bank account is by the production of a bank teller or an acknowledgment showing on the face thereof that the bank has (indeed) received the payment.

“Thus, contrary to the contention of the appellant, a stamped deposit slip or bank teller evidencing payment of monies into an account of a bank customer does amount to the issuance of a receipt to the said customer.

“However, I would want to agree with the submission of the appellant that in the absence of any express provision to the contrary, (by way of amendment of the Stamp Duties Act) the provisions of the schedule of the Stamp Duties Act, especially item four clearly show that the documents, which evidence receipt of monetary deposits by a bank, such as the appellant, are exempted from the payment of stamp duties.

“As such, there is no obligation thereupon to deduct and remit stamp duties on deposits or transfers, either as erroneously found by the court below, or at all. And I so hold.”

He also posited, “By the provision of section III of the Stamp Duties Act, all duties, fines, penalties and debts due to the government of the federation imposed by the Act shall be recoverable in a summary manner (exclusively) in the name of the Attorney-General of the Federation (or the state as the case may be).

“As such, there is no any specific provision in the said Act conferring power upon the 22nd respondent (NIPOST) to collect the sum of N50 for every N1,000 and above deposited in banks by way of teller deposits or electronic transfers.

“The alleged right or power of the 22nd respondent (NIPOST) to manage and collect stamp duties, being derived from non-existent provision of NIPOST and the Stamp Duties Acts, it goes without saying, that the 22nd respondent lacks the fundamental statutory right or power to manage and collect stamp duties. Consequently, the 22nd respondent cannot possess the locus standi to institute the instant action to enforce non-existent rights thereof.

“The purported amendments to the NIPOST and Stamp Duties Acts to the extent of conferring the 22nd respondent with the power to collect the sum of N50 for every sum of N1,000 and above deposited in banks (by way of teller deposits or electronic funds transfers) are non-existent.”

The appeal court also posited that Kasmal International Services Limited lacked the right to sue for enforcement of the provisions of the NIPOST and Stamp Duties Acts and that such a right could only be vested in NIPOST.

The judgment, which has been kept under wrap by all the parties in the case since it was delivered on April 21 as the banks have continued to charge N50 on deposits into current accounts, was obtained by our correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday.

Investigation showed that members of Technical Committee on Stamp Duty set up by the Federal Government were not aware of the judgement until sometime in July when they gathered for a meeting. It was at the meeting that the CBN informed them that there was a judgement against the collection of the duty.

Apart from the legal tussle, the directive by the CBN to banks to deduct N50 from bank deposits has been very controversial.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.


Lagos State Moves to Completely Ban Okada, Keke, Introduces Minibuses



Minibus - Investors King

The Lagos State Government on Monday announced plans to completely ban the use of motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (Keke) due to rising crime and lawlessness across the state.

The announcement was made after a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja.

In the meeting attended by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; the Chief Judge, Kazeem Alogba; the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, traditional and religious leaders and members of the civil society, among others, the governor said the string of lawlessness daily witnessed from the confrontation between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies required urgent action.

Based on all that we have seen and experienced in the past couple of weeks, as well as the increasing threat posed by the activities of commercial motorcycle operators to the safety and security of lives, we will be announcing further changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations in the state in the coming days. No society can make progress amid such a haughty display of lawlessness and criminality,” he added.

Sanwo-Olu said from next week, the state would be inaugurating the First and Last Mile buses next week, which would take the routes the motorcycles were plying.

The state Commissioner of Police, Odumosu, raised the alarm over rising security breaches from the menace of okada operations in the state.

He said between January and early this month, 320 commercial motorcycles were impounded in 218 cases of criminal incidents in which 78 suspects were detained and 480 ammunition recovered.

In the same period, the Lagos police boss said Okada accounted for 83 per cent of 385 cases of avoidable fatal vehicular accidents in Lagos.

At the end of the meeting, a 12-point resolution was reached, among which was a ban on Okada “as a means of transportation in the state.”


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2023 Voter’s Registration Will Be Online, Biometric To Be Captured Physically- INEC




The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday unfolded plans to allow online filing during the continuous voter registration for the 2023 general election.

The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, however, said only the biometric would be captured physically by INEC officials.

But the commission suffered another setback yesterday as arsonists torched its office in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.

Okoye, during a stakeholders’ meeting on expanding voter access to polling units in Kano yesterday, said: “On June 28, the voter registration exercise for those above 18 years and those who have not registered before will commence with two new innovations. Those versatile with computer can register online and only visit a registration centre to capture their biometrics.”

Okoye stated that the online registration would be introduced to reduce crowd at registration centres in line with COVID-19 protocols.

The commission called on citizens, especially those willing to contest elections, whose voter cards have been defaced, whose names were wrongly spelt or addresses and locations wrongly captured to present themselves for authentication or correction.

INEC also called for valid data of all those with disabilities or physical challenges to be captured during the continuous registration for proper projections ahead of the 2023 general election.

INEC also warned political parties and politicians who have started campaigning to desist from doing so.

Okoye said: “There is a ban on political campaigns which has not been lifted yet. And I find it necessary to draw your attention for you to understand the legal implication of violating this ban.

“I have listened to comments on radio stations, which are capable of heating the polity. Media organisations should avoid providing platforms for such comments. The media should try to curtail such tensions.

“Political parties, politicians and their supporters should understand there is a legal framework for campaigns and it has not commenced yet.”

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No Plans To Relocate AFRICOM HQ To Nigeria Or Any Part Of Africa- U.S. Replies Buhari




The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.

The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.

The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.

Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.

Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.

Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.

“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.

“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.

“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”

However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.

According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.

In an emailed response to The PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.

This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.

“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms. Cindi King, said.

King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.

She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.

“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”

It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador

Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.

He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.

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