The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has written the 36 state governors of the federation regarding the state of stamp duty collection and remittance in the country.
Malami, in the letter, stated that although recoveries are being conducted for the Federal Ministries, Departments, Agencies and financial institutions but, “at this stage liabilities are being established, and no actual recovery has been made”.
The letters, according to Malami’s media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, were written pursuant to the provision of Section 111 of the Stamp Duty Act, which provides that “all duties, fines, penalties and debts due to the government of the federation imposed by this Act shall be recoverable in a summarily manner in the name of the Attorney General of the Federation or the state”.
In a statement made available to journalists on Wednesday, the media aide added that the letters were for the purpose of compliance with audit and recovery of back years of stamp duty from January 15, 2016 to June 30, 2020.
“Pursuant to Mr. President’s approval and directives, I also wish to request Your Excellency to direct the state Ministries, Departments, Agencies, and Regulatory Institutions of Financial Sector to engage and grant access to the appointed recovery agents for the purpose of the audit and recovery of Stamp Duty to ensure that all established liabilities are remitted as appropriate,” the letter read in part.
Gwandu noted that Section 111 of the Stamp Duty Act granted the AGF an exclusive power to recover any outstanding payment or remittances related to stamp duty.
He explained that what the AGF did was to activate those powers, conduct the audit and recovery of back years stamp duty in collaboration with stakeholders.
He said the Federal Government of Nigeria has set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Audit and Recovery of Back years Stamp Duties from January 15, 2016 to June 30, 2020.
Members of the committee were drawn from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in collaboration with relevant agencies including the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMAFC), among others.
The statement said in view of the need to provide a comprehensive overview of the process and to properly understand the task, the AGF organized a meeting with the attorneys general of states since they have similar powers with respect of stamp duty of Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Financial Institutions in their respective states.
Only last month, the attorneys-general of the 36 states have sued Malami over the alleged failure of the federal government to remit funds generated from stamp duties into states’ accounts.
The states argued that they are the sole authority to collect stamp duties and not the federal government.
Meanwhile, states starting with Rivers are challenging the right of the FIRS to collect Value Added Tax (VAT), with a Federal High Court already given judgment in favour of the state.
Justice Stephen Pam of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had, in a judgment delivered August 9, stopped the FIRS from collecting VAT in Rivers and directed the state government to take charge of the duty.
Following the court judgment, Lagos State asked FIRS to stop issuing demand notices for VAT payments in the state, as well as going ahead to pass its own law on VAT.
Although, the Court of Appeal, Abuja had made a temporary order asking Rivers and Lagos not to give effect to the judgment of Justice Pam, the Rivers State Government however on Tuesday appealed the ruling, asking the Supreme Court to nullify the temporary order restraining it from obeying the order of the Federal High Court.