*Court rules out local councils from collecting business premises levies*
Enugu State High Court has declared that local governments have no powers or locus to collect business premises levies from the citizens.
Delivering judgement, Tuesday, in a suit filed by Civil Rights Realization and Advancement Network, the court presided over by Honorable Justice Cyprian Ajah, ruled that: “Such power has been donated to the State by the “Taxes and Levies (approved list for collection) Act, Cap T2 Laws of the Federation 2011” made by the National Assembly pursuant to Section 7 and 8, of Part 11, of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended)”.
It would be recalled that a group, Civil Rights Realization and Advancement Network (CRRAN), had filed a suit on May 27, 2020, on behalf of Dr. Afam Edeh, a renowned Consultant Surgeon and proprietor of ‘His Grace Medical Center’, Abakpa, Nike, against the Enugu East Local Government, over illegal taxes, particularly the ‘Business Premises levy’ imposed on citizens in the state by local governments in the State.
The suit followed disruption of medical care activities in the hospital on November 26, 2018, when some group of young men led by an official of Enugu East LGA, Hon. Obinna Okafor (the 2nd defendant), demanded business premises levy which they called permit.
However, when the hospital officials told them that the medical director was not around, the council officials surprisingly carted away hospital equipment, items and properties from the hospital.
In the judgement, the court also declared that it is illegal for local government areas in Nigeria and their officials to collect business premises levies from citizens.
The court, which said it had gone through the processes filed and considered relevant by legal authorities in respect of the matter, therefore went further to grant all the reliefs of the Plaintiff except ‘Relief Number D’ where the Honorable Court awarded One Million Naira (N1,000,000) damages to the Plaintiff.
The reliefs granted in favour of the plaintiff include:
(A). A Declaration that Part 2 of the Taxes and Levies (approved list for collection) Act, Cap T2 Laws of the Federation2011, empowers only the State government to collect Business Premises registration levies;
(B). An Order of the Honorable Court directing the defendants to return the entire Plaintiffs’ properties namely:
Sphygmonanametre-aneroid, 14 inches LG television set, electric suction machine, stethoscope, bathroom weighing scale and four pairs of rain boot, illegally carted away by them.
Another relief sought was for ‘perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from further trespassing or invading the premises of the Plaintiffs and where N1 million instead of N10 million naira damages was awarded against the Defendants jointly and severally for unlawfully invading the premises of the Plaintiff and removing his properties.’