Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami says the FG is yet to recover stamp duty funds made from 15 January 2016 to 30 June 2020. Last week, the 36 states through their attorneys-general, sued the AGF over the alleged failure of the government to remit funds generated from stamp duties into state accounts. The stamp duty saga is coming amid conflict between some states and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) over the collection of value-added tax (VAT). In the suit filed before the Supreme Court on 24 August and marked SC/CV/690/2021, the state attorneys are arguing that they are “the sole authority to administer and collect stamp duties on all transactions involving individuals/persons within their respective states.” They also want the court to order FG to pay “all the sum of monies amounting ₦176,067,400,000 representing ascertained and admitted collected stamp duties on individual persons’ transactions within their respective states for the period of 2015- 2020 and thereafter till the time of the judgment of this honourable court or any other sum as the plaintiffs may be found entitled by the honourable court.” However, in a statement on Wednesday, Umar Gwandu, Malami’s spokesperson, said the AGF has written to all 36 state governors. According to the statement, the letters were written pursuant to the provision of Section 111 of the Stamp Duty Act which provides that “all duties, fines, penalties and debts due to the government of the federation imposed by this Act shall be recoverable in a summary manner in the name of the attorney-general of the federation or the state”. Gwandu said what the AGF did was to “activate those powers, conduct the audit and recovery of back years stamp duty in collaboration with stakeholders.” “The recoveries are being conducted for the federal ministries, departments, agencies and financial institutions. At this stage, liabilities are being established, and no actual recovery has been made,” Gwandu said. While conceding that the states have similar powers with the AGF with respect of stamp duty of ministries, departments, agencies and financial institutions in their respective states, the statement also stated that the AGF has organised a meeting with state attorneys “in view of the need to provide a comprehensive overview of the process and to proper understanding the task.”

Rivers, through its Attorney-General, has gone to the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal that ordered it to maintain status quo on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) pending the determination of an appeal that was lodged by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). The state, in its 10 grounds of appeal, a copy of which was sighted by Vanguard on Tuesday, is equally praying the apex court to order that the substantive appeal by the FIRS marked and all other processes therein, be heard and determined by a new panel of the Court of Appeal. It maintained that the three-man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, had in the ruling they delivered last Friday, erred in law when they relied on the provisions of Section 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution and the inherent jurisdiction of the appellate court, to order all the parties to maintain status quo on the VAT dispute. It argued that the Court of Appeal legal lacked the powers to restore the parties to the position they were before the judgement of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt in suit No. FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, which was delivered on 9 August. It argued that the appellate court panel failed to take into account a decision of the Supreme Court in Shugaba V. Union Bank to the effect “that no court has an inherent jurisdiction (except in extreme circumstances) to set aside the exercise of discretion of another court with regards to order made in respect of an application for stay of execution”. Additionally, the state argued that the Court of Appeal panel erred in law when they wrongly assumed jurisdiction to entertain on the oral application that counsel of the FIRS made for the maintenance of status quo by parties in the dispute, in spite of the fact that condition precedent for the invocation of the inherent jurisdiction of the appellate court was not fulfilled by the 1st Respondent (FIRS). Rivers contended that the appellate court, by proceeding “to make a far-reaching decision”, based on the oral application by FIRS, denied its a fair hearing. Consequently, it prayed the apex court to allow the appeal, set aside the decision of the court of appeal on maintenance of the status quo, and further dismiss the oral application that was made by the FIRS. It also prayed the apex court to order that the appeal the FIRS filed against the High Court judgement that stripped it of the right to collect VAT in the state, be heard by a fresh panel. Aside from the FIRS, the Attorney-General of the Federation was cited as respondents in Rivers’ appeal. The Court of Appeal in Abuja had last Friday stopped both Rivers and Lagos from proceeding to collect VAT in their states, pending the determination of the FIRS’ appeal; citing the need to preserve the subject matter of the appeal since in its words, “the case is of very serious national importance”.

Akwa Ibom Governor Udom Emmanuel has signed into law the anti-grazing bill which was earlier passed by the state House of Assembly. Governor Emmanuel assented to the bill on Wednesday at the Exco Chambers Government House, Uyo. The new law prescribes a ₦10 million fine against offenders. The bill prohibits the open rearing of livestock and the establishment of ranches in the oil-producing state that would prevent the destruction of farms, crops, ponds, settlements, and properties caused by open rearing and grazing of livestock. It also promotes the production of healthy breeds of livestock, boosting job and investment opportunities in livestock farming. In addition to promoting modern techniques of animal husbandry and international best practices in the dairy and beef industry, the law provides for the establishment of the Akwa Ibom State Livestock and Ranch Administration and Control Committee, which would develop an integrated modern livestock development and production plan for the state. On the same day in the country’s southwest, Osun Governor Gboyega Oyetola signed the state’s anti-open grazing bill into law. The Osun State House of Assembly passed the bill on 12 August. The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Ismail Omipidan, disclosed this in a statement in Osogbo. The governor said the bill would prevent killings and environmental degradation caused by the open rearing and grazing of livestock in the state. The bill also prohibits minors from grazing and rearing livestock except with the supervision of adults. A day earlier, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu in the southeast signed the state’s anti-open grazing bill into law. This brings the number of Nigerian states that have formally banned open grazing to 14.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar clashed with Chadian rebel forces in the south of Libya on Tuesday and Wednesday, both sides said. The fighting underscores the risk of further instability in the Sahel region, where an array of groups operate across borders and where fighting has created space for militant organisations. Statements from the LNA, which holds most of eastern and southern Libya, said it was engaged in military operations against what it called terrorist groups and the Chadian opposition. The rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) said via social media that its positions on the frontier had been attacked by Haftar’s forces, fighting alongside what it said were Sudanese mercenaries and French troops. The LNA said it had carried out airstrikes and was conducting aerial patrols. FACT said French airstrikes had hit its positions. The French army said it had no forces on the ground or in the air in that area. FACT had been based in Libya and fought alongside the LNA during periods of Libya’s civil war, receiving heavy arms from Haftar, researchers say. In April, FACT advanced into northern Chad, battling the army there. Chadian authorities said president Idriss Deby, who had ruled for 30 years, was killed in the clashes. His son has taken over as transitional president. The LNA, which was backed in the Libyan conflict by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, also used fighters from Sudan and Syria, as well as those provided by the Russian Wagner Group, a U.N. panel of experts, has said. The UAE deployed drone strikes in support of the LNA during its foiled 14-month offensive to capture Tripoli, which ended last year. The U.S. military has said that Russia flew jets to Libya last year to support LNA operations. Major fighting in Libya’s civil war has been paused since the LNA offensive ended last year and both sides have accepted a ceasefire, an interim unity government and the idea of elections, although mercenaries remain dug in on both sides.