A Nigerian judge ruled on Tuesday that MTN met a deadline to respond to a $2bn tax demand from Nigeria’s attorney-general (AGF).
MTN took legal action after receiving a demand notice from the AGF alleging unpaid duties and taxes between 2007 and 2017 amounting to $2 billion.
MTN suit challenges the authority of the AGF to deal with issues around tax and customs duties.
According to the law, oversight for this is the responsibility of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
The Federal High Court, presided over by the Honourable Justice Aneke, rejected the Notice of Preliminary Objection filed by the AGF in response to MTN Nigeria’s lawsuit.
The court heard arguments on the AGF’s preliminary objection on March 26, 2019. At the time, the AGF requested that MTN’s suit be dismissed because it was not filed within the appropriate time frame, which the AGF asserted was within three months of receipt of the initial request for a self-assessment.
Having considered the matter, the judge determined that MTN’s suit was not statute-barred, as the company was only required to file its case within 3 months of receipt of the actual demand notice, which it did.
“It is important to note that even if the court ultimately rules that the AGF is within its rights to assess taxes and duties, it does not imply that the assessment that has been made is legitimate,” said MTN.
“MTN maintains that it is fully compliant with Nigerian tax laws. The company remains committed to meeting its fiscal responsibilities, and to contributing to the social and economic development of Nigeria.”
The substantive case is now scheduled to be heard on June 26.