States sue FG, want N176bn stamp duty revenue refund

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It is one week, one trouble for the federal government as attorneys general of the 36 states have taken the government to the Supreme Court over alleged failure to remit funds generated from stamp duty into state accounts.

The attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, is the sole defendant in the suit marked  SC/CV/690/2021.

The states argue that they are the sole authority to collect stamp duties and not the federal government.

They ask for, among others, an order compelling the federal government to account for funds collected by way of stamp duties on individual persons’ transactions in states from 2015.

The states want the court to order the federal government to refund N176,067,400,000, being “the ascertained and admitted collected stamp duties on individual persons’ transactions within the respective states for the period of 2015-2020” in addition to what would be ascertained later.

The states equally want the Supreme Court to restrain the Federal Government or its agents from appointing anyone to collect stamp duties on individual persons’ transactions within the respective states. These form part of the reliefs sought in a suit marked: SC/CV/690/2021 filed before the Supreme Court.

 The states are of the view that by virtue of the mandatory provisions of Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act, they (the states) are the sole authorities empowered to administer and collect stamp duties on all transactions involving individuals/persons within their respective states.

The plaintiffs, while raising some questions for the court’s determination, are praying for the following reliefs: A declaration that the plaintiffs are the sole authorities entitled to administer and collect stamp duties on all transactions involving individuals within their respective states; 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 in 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.

They also want a declaration that they are entitled to 85 per cent of all stamp duties collected on electronic money transfer levy, 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 transferor deposit is made in the plaintiffs’ respective states.

Besides, they prayed for an order of injunction directing the defendant to account for and pay back all monies and 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.

The suit, filed on August 24 this year, is yet to be slated for hearing by the court currently on its yearly vacation.

Recall that the plaintiffs had on June 16 this year, filed a separate suit before the Supreme Court, marked: SCN/CV/393/2021 in which they want the court to among others, compel the Federal Government to account for the about N2.28 trillion (both in cash and assets) so far recovered from looters since 2015.

They claimed, in the suit, which also has the AGF as the sole defendant, that between 2015 and now, the FG has recovered about N1.8 trillion in cash and about N450 billion worth of non-cash assets, but has allegedly diverted same into the Consolidated Revenue Accounts and other accounts not recognised by the Constitution, as against the Federation Account (FA) as required.

The plaintiffs equally want the court to compel the federal government to give a detailed account of the recovered assets and remit the same into the federation account, and for the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) to design modalities for distributing the recovered loot among the federating units.

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