By Alex Enumah
Truck drivers in the country have dragged the government of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) before a Federal High Court in Abuja over what they described as ‘increasing excruciating taxes’ being levied on them by the governments.
In the egal action, the drivers under the aegis of Heavy Duty and Haulage Transport Association of Nigeria is praying the court for an order compelling the Attorney General of the Federation and those of the 36 states to stop the road blocks and collection of tax, levy or fee from heavy duty vehicles and haulage.
In an originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1198/2020 and dated September 21, 2020, the drivers also joined the 774 local government areas in Nigeria through the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and the National Freight Haulers Association as defendants in the suit.
The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Mr. Abel Ozoko, are asking the court to determine whether under the provisions of Sections 59, 62(a) and 63 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and Sections 2 (2) and 3 of the Taxes and Levies (Approved List For Collection) Act, the states and local governments are prohibited from mounting road blocks for the purposes of tax collection.
The truck drivers attached newspaper publications which decried the extortion and harassment of its members on the highways, and the rising food crises as a result of difficulty faced by their members in conveying food to various parts of the country.
They are seeking a declaration of the court that the defendants “are by the provisions of Sections 2 (2) and 3 of the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act prohibited from mounting a road block in any part of Nigeria for the purpose of collecting any form of tax, levy or fee from heavy duty vehicles and haulage drivers.
“A declaration of this court that by Section 2 (2) and (3) of the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act, the four to 41 defendants are not empowered to collect any form of taxes, levies or fees from heavy duty vehicles and haulage drivers on any federal highway or federal/trunk roads in Nigeria.”
They are further demanding an order restraining the defendants from multiple taxation or further stopping or erecting or hindering movement of the plaintiffs by any means in any part of Nigeria’s highway or federal or trunk on any federal roads in Nigeria for the purpose of collecting any tax, levy from vehicles and haulage or fee from heavy duty drivers.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.