Malami writes governors on stamp duty, says no recoveries yet

2 months ago 31

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has written letters to all the 36 state governors in the country over 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 reads in part.

The Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the minister, Dr. Umar Gwandu, said in a statement made on Wednesday that no actual recovery has been made and added that recoveries are being conducted for the Federal Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Financial Institutions and that liabilities are being established at this stage.

According to the statement, Section 111 of the Stamp Duty Act granted the AGF an exclusive power to recover any outstanding payment or remittances related to stamp duty.

The letters, Gwandu said, 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”.

He said what the AGF did, was to activate those powers, conduct the audit and recovery of back years stamp duty in collaboration with stakeholders.

Malami said the Federal Government 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, he said, were drawn from the AGF’s office, in collaboration with relevant agencies including the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria, Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission, among others.

In view of the need to provide a comprehensive overview of the process and for proper understanding of the task, the Statement said the AGF organized a meeting with Attorneys General of States as they have similar powers with respect of stamp duty of Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Financial Institutions in their respective states.

Attorneys-general of the 36 states of the federation had last week, dragged Malami before the Supreme Court over alleged failure of the federal government to remit funds generated from stamp duties into the accounts of state governments.

The states said in their suit that they are the sole authority to collect stamp duties and not the federal government.

In the suit marked SC/CV/690/2021, dated, August 24, the attorneys are asking the court to issue an order directing Malami to account for and pay back all monies 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 as well as an order directing him to pay them all the sum of monies amounting to N176,067,400,000,00) representing ascertained and admitted collected stamp duties on individual persons’ transactions within their respective states for the period of 2015- 2020 and thereafter till the time of the judgment of the court or any other sum as they may be found entitled by the court.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant by himself, privies, agents or any persons by whatever name or how so ever called from appointing anyone for the purpose of collecting Stamp Duties on individual persons’ transactions within the respective states of the plaintiffs henceforth”, among other reliefs.

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