An Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure, has ordered that the Nigerian Breweries (NB) Plc depot in Akure be sealed off pending the payment of the company’s tax liabilities in firm of haulage fees, totaling N169.175 million to the state government.
The judge, Justice William Akintoroye, also granted the cross-petition of the state government for the recovery of the tax due from the company, being its computed haulage fees owed from 2017 to 2019.
A news report by The Guardian on the court’s ruling, indicated that the order was given despite submissions by the respondents’ counsel, as the presiding judge dismissed the petition filed by the company on the grounds that it lacked merit.
The court held that the first respondent (Ondo State Government) had the constitutional right to demand for the payment of the tax due and that the company also had the fiscal obligation to pay haulage fees to the government, being the principal to the transport agencies that convey its products.
The state government had earlier ordered the firm to pay N169.175 million as the haulage fees owed it but the company approached the court to challenge the demand notices served on it by the Ondo State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Co-operatives last year.
The respondents in the case were the Ondo State Government, the Ondo State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Co-operatives and the Ondo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice
The petitioner, in the suit No: AK/l45/2020, sought: “An order of the restraining it from paying the haulage fee and that it was ‘not liable to pay haulage of goods as part of its object and business and the respondents cannot therefore demand the payment of haulage fee from the petitioner and/or enforce the payment of haulage fees purportedly due to the respondent from third parties transport/haulage companies against the petitioner.
“An order of the court restraining the respondents from further demanding haulage fees from the petitioner forthwith as well as restraining the respondents from further harassing and intimidating the employees of the petitioner and from the unlawful disruption and closure of the petitioner’s business premises on the ground of non-payment of haulage fees.
“An order of the court directing and/or mandating the respondents to directly enforce the payment and/or collection of the alleged haulage fees due to them, directly from the third parties, transport companies, engaged by the petitioner to transport its drink to Akure, being the companies that actually engaged in haulage and/or haulage business, under the Taxes And Levies (Approved List For Collection) Act, (Amendment) Order, 2015, to wit: AOP Logistics Limited and Tasho Nigeria Limited.”