The Attorney Generals of the 36 States in Nigeria (the States or “the Plaintiffs”) recently filed a suit against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF or “the Defendant”) at the Supreme Court (SC or “the Court”) in Abuja to determine the authority of States to collect stamp duties on instruments executed between persons or individuals within their respective States as provided in Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act, Cap. S8 LFN 2004 (SDA).
The Plaintiffs, through the Nigeria Governors Forum, had informed the AGF of their concerns regarding the administration and collection of stamp duties via a letter dated 16 September 2020. However, it appears that the AGF did not adequately address their concerns, necessitating the filing of the suit.
We have highlighted below, some of the key issues and prayers presented to the SC for determination in the suit:
- Whether the Defendant, having regard to the provisions of Section 4(2) of the SDA, is the sole authority empowered to collect and administer stamp duties on all transactions involving individuals/ persons within the respective States?
- Whether, given the provisions of Section 4(2) of the SDA, the Defendant is entitled to collect, administer, or keep the proceeds of any collection of stamp duties paid on transactions involving individuals/ persons within the respective States without any agreement with, reference to, or disclosures made to, the Plaintiffs?
- Whether the Plaintiffs are not entitled to the entire sum of Stamp Duties collected by the Defendant on individual persons transactions pursuant to Section 4(2) of the SDA?
- Whether the States are not entitled to 85% of electronic money transfer levies collected on electronic transfers made in their respective States?
- Whether the Defendant can amend the principle of derivation as contained in Section 162(2) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) without a proper amendment of the said provision?
- Whether the Defendant can legally pay Stamp Duties collected on transactions involving individuals/ persons within the respective States into the Federation Account rather than to the respective Plaintiffs' States where such collections are derived?
The Plaintiffs sought reliefs in favour of the States on all issues submitted before the Court for determination.
The issue of the appropriate authority to collect Stamp Duties with respect to transactions involving persons and individuals resident in the relevant States is longstanding. It is hoped that a ruling by the SC would clarify this issue and provide certainty to taxpayers.
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