By Aluzu Ebikebuna Augustine
A high court sitting in yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital has declared the state’s Ministry of Transport Premises Fee or Tax illegal. The declaration is contained in a judgment delivered by His Lordship Hon. Justice Y. E. Ogola in Hallibuton Energy Services Ltd vs Government of Bayelsa State & 2 Ors with suit number YHC/153/2018.
The suit which commenced by way of originating summons since 20th August, 2018 saw the 1st defendant, acting through its agents, the Bayelsa State Ministry of Transport (2nd defendant) and one Doubra Kukpumo trading under the name and style of Doupere Ventures (3rd defendant) in the suit who represented himself as the unified revenue collection agent appointed by the Governor of Bayelsa state impound the claimant’s low-bed Kenworth truck as a means of compelling the claimant to pay the sum of ₦5,000,000.00 subsequently revised to ₦4,000,000.00 and then ₦2,500,000.00 following series of notice of demand letter written by the 2nd defendant and signed by the Commissioner for Transport, Hon. Dauprebo Ikuromo.
It was the claimant’s contention in the suit that the Bayelsa state Ministry of Transport Premise fee or tax is unknown to extant laws having regard to section 1(1) of the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act, Cap T2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 & Part II to the schedule thereto, and Paragraph 3 of the Taxes and Levies Act (Amendment) Order, 2015.
The claimant also contended that the Bayelsa State House of Assembly has not enacted any law authorising the Bayelsa State Ministry of Transport to impose, collect or enforce the Ministry of Transport Premises Fee or Tax.
His Lordship, while agreeing with the claimant declared that the 2nd defendants is not empowered to distrain or impound the claimant’s truck without a lawful court order and such amounts to acting ultra vires of its powers.
In declaring the tax illegal, an order for a refund of ₦2,500,000.00 ministry of transport premises fee paid by the claimant to the 2nd defendant through the 3rd defendant was made among other reliefs granted.