CBN, OPS at war over N50 stamp duty

Apparently irked by the continuous imposition of the N50 stamp duty by the Deposit Money Banks, members of the organised private sector (OPS) are warming up for a serious legal battle with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and others, The Nation has learnt.

The Nation can authoritatively report that the OPS, including the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and others are already speaking with their lawyers to take the necessary legal action against the CBN, the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and the 22 banks to stop the collection of N50 from customers as stamp duty charges.

At separate interviews with The Nation at the weekend, some of the leading lights of the OPS including Dr. Frank Jacob, President of MAN, Mr. Muda Yusuf, the Director General of the LCCI and Director General of NECA, Olusegun Oshinowo, expressed readiness to seek legal redress over what they described as “arbitrary charges and levies” by the banks acting in league with the CBN.

Firing the first salvo, Jacob said: “Obviously we’re not happy with the imposition of the N50 stamp duty because we don’t think this is the right time for that considering the state of the economy now. We’re in a recession and as such, we shouldn’t be thinking about increasing burden on the operators of the economy. We’re discussing with our lawyers to see how we can pursue this matter successfully in court. The legal action is an option we’re definitely considering.”

Echoing similar sentiment, Yusuf said: “I’m not in the true picture of the idea of going to court. We’re not happy with the imposition of the N50 stamp duty. But as to the extent of going to court, we’re not directly involved with that. But I can tell you that the position of the OPS with regards going to court to argue this matter is being spearheaded by the NECA.”

On his part, Oshinowo revealed that NECA had concluded plans to head to court to demand that an order be issued to the government agencies to stop forthwith the collection of excess stamp duty charges, which it said has been leading to a deduction of excess 75 per cent outside what is statutorily allowed by the FIRS Act.

“Surprisingly, neither the CBN nor FIRS had instructed the banks and other revenue collecting outfits to stop the collection of the illegal stamp duty,” the DG said.

He said anytime the relevant agencies decided to obey the law, his organisation would demand for a refund to all individuals and organisations already affected by the act of disobedience to the court’s rulings on the matter.

The law allows N20 stamps duty reduction on every payments exceeding N1000, but the banks are currently deducting N50.

However, speaking with the CBN acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okoroafor, he said the apex bank was not involved in the N50 stamp duty matter.

A visibly angry Okoroafor said: “If it’s N50 stamp duty you’re talking about, you may have to call NIPOST. It’s not the business of the CBN. It is the business of NIPOST please. CBN has nothing whatsoever to do with stamp duty.”

The Federal Court of Appeal had in the matter between Kasmal International Services Limited, a firm owned by Senator Buruji Kashamu and Access Bank and 23 others, directed all deposit money banks to discontinue the illegal charging of N50 per transaction in lieu of stamp duties.

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