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Stop illegal stamp duty deductions now, private sector tells banks

The Organised Private Sector (OPS), has called on the Federal Government to order the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), and stop “the systematic defrauding” of millions of Nigerians through illegal deduction of stamp duty from their accounts.

They also urged the government to urgently impress on respective parties of the need to respect valid court judgment, which outlawed such deductions, asking that the illegal charges, which had run into billions of naira be reverted into the respective customers’ accounts.

The Director-General, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Timothy Olawale, recalled the CBN had directed that banks must deduct N50 stamp duty on all transactions made, with a value of N1,000 and above, in compliance with the Stamp Duties Act.

However, the issue of stamp duty was tested in courts, and a ruling was obtained, which held that the Stamp Duty Act did not impose a duty on Money Deposit Banks to deduct N50 on bank deposits.

According to the Appeal Court, “electronic transactions” were not covered by the Stamp Duty Act.

However, the judgement has been appealed, and the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), has maintained the status quo, with the accumulated sum simply idling away and not being put into any use.

But Olawale argued that the refusal of the CBN and NIPOST to respect a valid judgment of a competent court of the land is worrisome, stressing that it amounts to contempt of court, and sustained daylight robbery of millions of bank customers’ deposits.

He further called on the CBN to respect the law and judgment of the Court of Appeal, and instruct the banks, through a circular, to stop the deduction of N50 stamp duty on customers’ accounts, and return several billions of Naira illegally deducted from bank customers to them up to date.

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According to him, the refusal to stop the illegal deduction amounts to disrespect to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, disrespect to the court, disrespect to due process, and disrespect to Nigerians.

He advised that NIPOST should stick to its roles and responsibilities of producing and selling postage stamps in the country.

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