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FIRS asked court to dismiss 2 Oil Firms’ suit seeking 5 years tax reliefs

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to dismiss the suit filed by two oil companies, Midwestern Oil and Gas Company Ltd, and Suntrust Oil Company Nigeria Ltd seeking to review decision on three years tax relief granted them.

The two oil firms had in a suit filed on 22 December 2015, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/364/2015 sought a judicial review of FIRS decision which reduced the period of their tax reliefs granted by Nigerian Investment Promotion Council from five to three years.

FIRS ,the 2nd respondent had in letter tried to enforce provision of an act which provides that tax reliefs should be for three years period and reviewable thereafter for another two years.

The suit was brought pursuant to Order 33 rules 1(1) and (2); and 3(1) and 5 of the Federal High Court, (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009.

In the instant suit, the applicants are seeking a declaration by way of judicial review, that the decision of the 1st respondent to vary the 5-year tax relief granted by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council was “illegal, capricious, irregular, unfair, oppressive etc.

More so, the oil firms are praying for an order setting aside the decision of the 1st respondent to vary the tax relief regime from 5 years to 3 years.

In addition, the applicants are seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents by themselves, their officers, agents, servants, privies or otherwise howsoever, from taking any steps or further steps or actions to enforce or give effect to the decision of the its respondent communicated in its two separate letters to them on January 26, 2015.

The two Federal Government agencies (the respondents) had on January 26, 2015 written to the two oil firms, adjusting the pioneer status conferred on them in respect of the Firms’ joint mineral oil exploration and production activities in the Umusadege Field covered by Oil Mining Lease (OML) 56 from 5 years to 3 years.

But in reaction to the suit, counsel to the FIRS, Collins Aimuan said the FG agency is objecting to the suit, insisting that the oil firms must pay tax to the Nigerian government.

The FIRS predicated it’s objection on the fact that the suit was filed out of time as required under the law.

More so, they are challenging the suit for being incompetent, lacking in merit and an abuse of process of the court.

Aimuan said the FIRS has challenged the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the suit as well as praying for an order to dismiss the suit.

The FIRS said the 5 years tax relief granted to the oil companies by the NNPC was in error, a development that informed the reduction to 3 years.

It insisted that it would amount to defrauding government of huge sums of money from tax if the companies allowed to continue to enjoy tax relief while they have been making huge profits.

Meanwhile, the matter which is before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court has been adjourned to February 28 for mention.

Andrew Orolua, Abuja.

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