The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has been dragged before a Federal High Court in Lagos over its plan to compel tax practitioners to use a seal of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) for filing of annual returns to the Service from October 1, 2022.
The suit was filed by five members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). The members are: Chief Afolabi Igbaroola, Alhaji Ademola Ogunsesan, Deacon T.J. Ishola, Mr. Gbenga Afolabi and Mr. Abiodun Adedeji. They had approached the court in a suit designated FHC/L/CS/1837/2022, through their lawyer, Mr. Olaniyi George, on behalf of themselves, as well as licensed and concerned members of ICAN.
The ICAN members are specifically questioning FIRS over a May 31, 2021 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) published in a national daily on July 27, 2022, announcing the implementation of the CITN seal as a condition precedent for filing of annual returns to the FIRS by tax practitioners from October 1, 2022.
They are arguing that the subject of the MoU was litigated by the plaintiffs and the FIRS at the Federal High Court in Lagos in a suit marked FHC/L/ CS/1480/18, which is pending before the Court of Appeal, Lagos, as suit marked CA/L/CV/1210/19. The ICAN members prayed the court to determine, among others, whether the FIRS being an interested party and a party that actively participated in suit no FHC/L/CS/1480/18, and suit no CA/L/CV/1210/19 can among others “syndicate, facilitate, and/or mediate” on the subject of the appeal without their consent.
They are equally asking the court for five reliefs, including an order that the FIRS “cannot tamper, vary and dissipate the ‘res’ which is the subject of appeal in the Appeal Court and having had the knowledge of the appeal and injunction pending appeal and that the activities of the defendant in respect of the MoU amounts to affront to the power and jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal.”
They also asked for, “a declaration that the defendant cannot violate its own rule/regulation as provided in Section 61 of the FIRS Act 2007; Section 11 of Tax Administration (Self- Assessment) Regulations 2011 on the appointment and delisting of proper persons to be a tax practitioner in Nigeria and that the advertisement/ publication vide the newspaper is not contemplated by the law guiding the exercise of the appointment and delisting of taxa practitioner in Nigeria.
“An injunction restraining the defendant or any other committee that may be set up under the relevant provisions of the FIRS Act 2007 from taking any step or carrying out any action including the ones already published on July 27, 2022 which is expected to be enforced on the 2nd day of October 2022 pending the final determination of the Appeal”.