By Chimaobi Nwaiwu
Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, has been dragged to Federal High Court Abuja, for alleged hijacking of the duties of Nigerian Postal Services, NIPOST, in the country.
A client of NIPOST, First October General Merchants Nigerian Limited, instituted the case against FIRS, challenging the right FIRS, has to take over minting and sales of Adhesive Stamps from NIPOST.
Addressing newsmen in his office in Onitsha, lawyer to First October General Merchants Nigerian Limited, who are the Plaintiffs, in the matter, Prince Christopher Muo, said that his client, as a franchised agent of NIPOST in the Stamp Market, are challenging FIRS, lunching of its own brand of Adhesive Stamp on June 30, 2020, an action he alleged amounts to hijacking the stamp market from NIPOST and taking over the job of NIPOST, Agents across the country, without any enabling law.
According to Prince Muo, “My clients and others across the country were working for NIPOST, as franchised agents, implementing the stamping protocols, until FIRS, issued a public notice that on June 30, 2020, it will lunch its own brand of Adhesive Postage Stamps, which they will use to compel Nigerians to denote documents, receipts and registerable instruments and proof for collecting Stamp Duty.
“FIRS actually carried out the lunching of June 30’2020, so in effect, FIRS, through the back door has taken over the statutory duty or business of NIPOST, and when that happens the NIPOST Agents will be put out of business, that is why they dragged FIRS to Federal High Court Abuja, for the court to interpret the law relied upon by FIRS, to take over the duty.
“They want the court In Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/2020, to tell them if a tax master has become postmasters, just as to determine if there is any provision in the Finance Act, which FIRS is citing, that took away the NIPOST power to mint stamps, distribute and regulate the use of Adhesive Stamps in Nigeria.
“They are also asking the court to explain if there is any provision in the Finance Act that gives FIRS, a tax agency authority to mint stamps, compel the use of same in Nigeria to replace NIPOST Adhesive Stamp.
“We are also asking the court to determine if FIRS is not violating the intellectual property right given to NIPOST by the inventor of the Stamping Protocols Business Model, a business model which NIPOST in partnership with one of its business partners developed and was using to implement the Provisions in Section 11- 1, 2 and 3 and Section 89 – 1 of Stamp Duty Act, which is where Stampings Business Protocols is contained.
“Somebody gave NIPOST the idea on how to unlock the stamping protocol business and NIPOST, educated its franchise agents and with which in the course of doing business between 2016 to 2019, it generated over N58 billion.
“Our client is also asking the court to determine among other things, if the amendment which the Finance Act, did to the Stamp Duty Act, affect Section 11- 1’2 and 3 and Section 89 of the Stamp Duty Act.
“It is also asking the court to distinguish between the functions of NIPOST and that of FIRS as it relates to implementing the Stamping Protocols and generating revenue called stamp proceeds and stamp duty payment collections.”