In recent times, since the government cannot turn to crude oil revenue like it used to, all hands have been on deck to ensure thorough tax reforms across the three tiers of government.
It is in the above light that an Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure, recently, ordered that the Nigerian Breweries (NB) Plc depot in Akure be sealed off pending the settlement of their tax liabilities to the state government.
As gathered from his verdict on Wednesday 3rd, 2021, Justice William Akintoroye also granted the cross-petition of the state government for the recovery of ₦169.175 million from the company, being the haulage fees it owed for the period 2017 to 2019.
Justice Akinrotoye ruled in favour of the state government, dismissing the petition filed by the NB Plc that it lacked merit.
The road to victory for the Ondo State Government
The court held that the first respondent (Ondo State Government) has the constitutional right and it is the constitutional duty of Nigerian Breweries Plc to pay haulage fees to the government being the principal to the transport agencies that convey its products.
The state government had earlier ordered the firm to pay ₦169.175 million as the haulage fees the company is owing to the state government but the company approached the court to challenge the demand notices served on it by the Ondo State Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Co-operatives for the payment of haulage fees last year.
The respondents in the case were the Ondo State Government, the Ondo State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Co-operatives, and the Ondo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice
The petitioner, in suit No: AK/l45/2020, sought:
“An order of the restraining it from paying the haulage fee and that it was ‘not liable to pay haulage of goods as part of its object and business and the respondents cannot, therefore, demand the payment of haulage fee from the petitioner and/or enforce the payment of haulage fees purportedly due to the respondent from third parties transport/haulage companies against the petitioner.
“An order of the court restraining the respondents from further demanding haulage fees from the petitioner forthwith as well as restraining the respondents from further harassing and intimidating the employees of the petitioner and from the unlawful disruption and closure of the petitioner’s business premises on the ground of non-payment of haulage fees.
“An order of the court directing and/or mandating the respondents to directly enforce the payment and/or collection of the alleged haulage fees due to them, directly from the third parties, transport companies, engaged by the petitioner to transport its drink to Akure, being the companies that engaged in haulage and/or haulage business, under the Taxes And Levies (Approved List For Collection) Act, (Amendment) Order, 2015, to wit: AOP Logistics Limited and Tasho Nigeria Limited.”