By Mike Ubani
A pressure group, ‘Mezie Ala-Igbo Foundation’ (MAIF), has dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, over alleged plan to force traders across the country to pay personal income and company taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue and State Inland Revenue Services.
Also named in the suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/508/18, as co-defendants, are the Federal Government, Minister of Finance, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Inland Revenue Service (FCT-IRS).
The group in the suit filed by its Counsel, Ifeanyi Nrialike, on its behalf and on behalf of the Nigerian traders, among other things, contend that the tax authorities have no powers to solely determine the taxes to be paid by traders in the country, and that the involvement of the EFCC in forcing the traders to pay what FIRS calls right taxes, is illegal and unconstitutional.
The group, therefore, seeks an order of the court restraining EFCC, and other anti-corruption and security agencies, task forces of whatever description, from harassing or forcing the traders to pay both their personal income and company taxes.
The AUTHORITY recalls that the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr Tunde Fowler, had earlier said that the partnership between the FIRS-EFCC in the generation of taxes had made taxpayers to pay right taxes to the nation.
In a 19-paragraph affidavit supporting its originating summons, the group asked the court to declare that the EFCC by virtue of the provisions of the extant Personal Income Tax Act, and the Companies Income Tax, has no power, “and cannot competently participate in any endeavour geared towards generating tax from tax payers (traders etc.) in Nigeria.”
The group also asked the court to declare that the Federal Ministry of Finance, by virtue of the provisions of the Personal Income Tax Act, and the Companies Income Tax Act, “has no power, and cannot competently fix deadlines for the payment of taxes in Nigeria by tax payers, (traders etc.) as tax laws have determined penalties for the late filing of tax returns.”
The group further asked the court to declare that the FIRS, FCT-IRS and the 36 States Inland Revenue Services, by virtue of the provisions of the Personal Income Tax Act, and the Companies Income Tax Act, “do not have the power, and are not the final determinant of the taxes to be paid by tax payers (traders etc.) in Nigeria as the tax laws of Nigeria have granted such powers to the Tax Appeal Tribunal.”
The AUTHORITY had exclusively reported that the FIRS and the EFCC had completed arrangements to force traders within the FCT, Abuja, and its environs to pay personal income and companies’ income taxes derived from FIRS’ Presumptive Tax Regulations, a move which the traders had kicked against.