Okwe Obi, Abuja
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, has been dragged to court by two civil society organisations, Pro Tax Pro Nigeria Initiative and Centre for Prevention of Corruption and Human Rights Abuse Initiative over alleged double taxation of outdoor advertising.
Also joined in the suit, as co-defendants, are Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage (DOAS) and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
Lead council to Protax, Mr Opara Orji, who addressed newsmen in Abuja, claimed that the collection of tax from businesses and individuals by DOAS was an illegal act, which amounted to duplication of functions, which AMAC also performs.
Orji argued that the function of collection of taxes was supposed to be handled by AMAC, the original body, which was saddled with such responsibility by the law.
He cited Section 2(1) of the Taxes and Levies Act to justify their arguments, which says ‘no person other than the appropriate tax authority shall assess or collect on behalf of the government any tax or levy listed in the act. The appropriate tax authorities are the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Local Government Revenue Committee.’
He said: “But the court just intimated us that the judgement of the court is not ready, that the date of the judgement shall be communicated to us. That is what happened in court this morning.”
Haruna Sadiq, who represented the minister, faulted the allegations, saying: “The course of the matter is that some group of people decided to wake up and try to sabotage the efforts of government.
“You know, when you want to mix up the FCT administration or over seeing the affairs the FCT and put it on equal line with that of the state, it is a grievous mistake that you are making.”