By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Friday, said he would allow the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Nigerian Customs Service to take over the resolution of the dispute between the Federal Government and MTN.
The AGF, in a statement that was signed by his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, disclosed that the decision to transfer the case to both FIRS and Customs was communicated to MTN through a letter dated January 8 and addressed to its counsel, Messrs Wole Olanipekun & Co.
According to the statement, the said letter read in part: “Having carefully and painstakingly reviewed the correspondence reference and following due consultation with relevant statutory agencies, the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has decided to refer the matter under reference to Federal Inland Revenue Services and Nigeria Custom Services with a view to resolving contentious issues”.
The letter further read: “You may wish to be informed and be guided for time being, pending the outcome of the interrogation of the relevant statutory agencies”.
Malami stressed that the FIRS and Nigerian Custom Services are the regulatory authorities vested with the powers of monitoring foreign exchange utilization and assessment of taxes among others as canvassed and contended by the parties in their respective submissions.
“The development is in line with oversight functions of Customs and Excise Management Act and Federal Inland Revenue Service relating to monitoring foreign exchange utilization and prevention of illegal trade, in case of customs, and assessment, collection and accounting for tax and other revenues accruing to the Federal Government, as it relates to Federal Inland Revenue Service.
“With this, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice demonstrates unflinching commitment to the rule of law where all statutory agencies will be allowed to independently work with a view to fulfilling their mandates and recourse to them in contentious cases, as regulatory agencies of government on issues that border on their statutory mandate”, the statement added.