MTN $8.1bn repatriation case: Court adjourns till Jan.22

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By Sandra Umeh

A Federal High Court Lagos, on Wednesday, further adjourned until Jan. 22, 2019 for report of settlement in a suit between MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over repatriation of 8.1 billion dollars.

Justice Saliu Saidu adjourned the case for report after parties had informed the court that they were still engaged in settlement talks.

At the last adjourned date on Dec. 4, counsel had told the court that parties were discussing settlement, and had sought an adjournment for report of settlement.

When the case was called on Wednesday, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) announced his appearance alongside two other senior lawyers for MTN.

Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) announced his appearance for CBN, while Mrs Oluwakemi Kanbu, appeared for the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

Olanipekun then said: “we were before this court on Dec. 4, and had told the court that parties were talking settlement, my Lord, the discussion is still ongoing and progressing.

“As a result of this, we seek further indulgence for a date in January, so we can inform your lordship on further developments. We are very much obliged,’’ he said

In the same vein, counsel to CBN, (Sowemimo) said: “I confirm that we are still making moves for out of court settlement, and we will be available on Jan. 22, 2019, subject to the court’s convenience.’’

Counsel to the AGF (Kanbu) also aligned with the submission of Sowemimo.

Following the development and based on agreement of parties, the court consequently adjourned the case until Jan. 22, 2019, for a report of settlement.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that MTN had filed the suit, seeking an injunction to restrain the CBN and AGF from taking further actions to reclaim the alleged debts.

The firm wants the court to hold that CBN lacks power to determine its civil obligations or penal liabilities.

It is urging the court to declare that the CBN acted outside its statutory powers when it wrote a letter to it on Aug.18, demanding a refund of 8.1 billion dollars.

It wants the court to hold that the demand was illegal, oppressive, abusive, unauthorised and unconstitutional.

On its part, CBN alleged that the telecoms firm improperly repatriated dividends, and requested that MTN should return 8.1 billion dollars to its coffers.

Meanwhile, MTN had filed a sister case before another judge of same court, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, against the AGF, challenging a withholding tax assessment of 1.3 billion dollars and an import duty tax of N242 billion.

MTN queries these assessments.

Justice Aneke has fixed Feb. 7, 2019 for hearing of all pending applications in this suit. (NAN)


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