Popular Lagos lawyer, and KOWA Presidential aspirant, Sina Fagbenro-Byron (SFB), has alerted the nation, especially the 36 states of the country, on the illegality that the federal government, in connivance with the national assembly, is about to commit, in the bid to amend Stamp Duties Act of 2004, which is designed to be shared among the 36 states of the federation.
Recall that a comprehensive report of was published in the Nation Newspapers on 20th April, 2018, with details of how monies accruing to *N20 trillion*, being revenues from Stamp Duties, which ought to have been long paid into the Federation Account for onward disbursement to the federal and state governments, are being illegally withheld by the requisite financial institutions and authorities.
School of Banking Honours (SBH), with the express approval of President Buhari was charged with mandate to “recover over N20 trillion from Nigerian Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to the Federation Account”; a mandate that is yet to be accomplished.
Despite the unequivocal presidential directive, the SBH claims it has met a brick wall in its efforts to commence work on its mandate particularly from the NIBSS.
The proponents of the Amendment Bill maintain that Stamp Duties Act 2004 has become obsolete due to the emergence of information and communication technology on business transactions.
In an explosive press statement released on Sunday, June 24, 2018, SFB stated that any attempt at amending the Stamp Duties Act of 2004 will be at variance with Section 163 of the Nigerian Constitution, and vows to challenge the system, if the government remained unrepentant in its unconstitutional and unpopular bid.
I Sina Fagbenro-Byron (SFB), Presidential Aspirant of Kowa Party have been following, with deep interest, the public issue on the matter of Stamp Duty accruing to Government from the Banking sector. We are aware that the accumulation of these funds is in the excess of tens of Trillions of Naira.
Specifically, my attention has been drawn to a public notice that suggests a Stamp Duties (Amendment) Bill 2018, seeking to amend Stamp Duties Act 2004, has been passed by the National Assembly, and is now awaiting Presidential assent to become a Law.
We will be heading to Court to oppose Presidential signing of the Bill into Law, given that such amendment would be at variance with Section 163 of the Nigerian Constitution which provides that:*
Where under an Act of the National Assembly, tax or duty is imposed in respect of any of the matters specified in item D of Part 11 of the Second Schedule (while paragraph 7.B covers documents or transactions by way of Stamp Duty), the net proceeds of such tax or duty shall be distributed among the States on basis of derivation, and accordingly, where such is collected by
a. The State (under Section 4.2 of Stamp Duties Act 2004) – It will form part of its Consolidated Revenue Fund; and
b. The Federal (under Section 4.1 of Stamp Duties Act 2004) – These shall be paid to each State on basis of derivation.
Explanation by proponents of the Amendment Bill that Stamp Duties Act 2004 has become obsolete due to the emergence of information and communication technology on business transactions, is false and self-serving.
Proponents of the Amendment Bill seem to be ignorant of other statutory provisions that adequately protect the non-oil revenue for our 36 beneficiary State Governments, as follows:
a. Section 23 of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act 1991 specifically exempts only Naira Currency from Stamp Duty, hence any, or all forms of emerging banking transactions are duly covered for the charge;
b. Section 89.1 of Stamp Duties Act 2004 provides for Stamp Duty on all amounts received, deposited or paid for business transactions, hence is the only statutorily approved charge;
c. Federal Government of Nigeria Financial Regulations 2009 fixed threshold for charging of Stamp Duty Revenue at N1000, and specifically approved N50 for each of such transactions.
Furthermore, the public has been alerted of the embossment of “Stamp Duty Paid” on Cheques (the usual payment instrument) in part-compliance of CBN with the Laws, while other emerging formats of payment (electronic transfers, cards) are mere improvements on the embossed cheques, and would not excuse banks and others from their statutory responsibility to Government, through CBN Act 1991.
Consequently, all Stamp Duty belong to our 36 State Governments and their respective peoples, and any person(s) working against the intention of the Constitution to hold our federating units together on the principles of derivation and fairness, will be fueling the agitation by some of the already financially challenged States, will be promoting grand corruption on a large scale and fuelling poverty and injustice in Nigeria. That is not the intention of our democracy and I AM, by the grace of God, determined to fight for their right and for a True Federation where peace, justice and progress reign.
For emphasis, any attempt by the President & Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces to approve the Stamp Duties (Amendment) Bill 2018, as presented by the National Assembly, will be illegal, null and void.
I remain yours sincerely,
Adesina Ayodele Fagbenro-Byron Esq.,
B.Sc (Econs) LL.B,B.L D.Hum FIIM