MTN vs CBN: Court Adjourns to Dec Report of Settlement over Alleged $8.1bn Illegal Repatriation

A Federal High Court in Lagos Tuesday, adjourned until December 12 for report of settlement in a dispute between MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over alleged illegal repatriation of $8.1 billion by the telecoms company.

Justice Saliu Saidu fixed the date for the report after parties informed the court that they were engaged in settlement talks.

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

On the other hand, Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) announced his appearance for CBN, while Mr T. D. Agbe, the Senior State Counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, appeared for the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

Olanipekun said: “May it please your lordship, the matter today is slated for hearing of pending applications, but we owe the court a duty to inform it that parties are engaged.

“Counsel have conferred, and in view of this, we are asking for a short date for report.”

On his part the CBN counsel said: “We have advanced stages towards settlement, and it remains to cross the Ts and dot the Is; it is just for report of settlement.”

Following this development and based on agreement of parties, the court consequently adjourned the case until December 12 for a report of settlement.

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 the CBN lacks the 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 August 18, demanding a refund of $8.1 billion.

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 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 and an import duty tax of N242 billion.

MTN queries these assessments.

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

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