The Federal High Court siting in Lagos, on Thursday, May 30, 2019 struck out a suit filed against the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) challenging a Circular issued by the CBN on January 15, 2016 directing and authorizing all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and other financial institutions to enforce collection of ₦50 stamp duty on electronic transfers and teller deposits from ₦1,000 and above (Eligible Bank Transactions).
The Applicants (Incorporated Trustees of Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative & Mr. Victor Adeyon) had commenced the suit against the Governor of CBN on February 9, 2017 praying the Court for an Order of Mandamus to compel the Governor of CBN to issue another Circular redirecting DMB’s to stop deducting and remitting ₦50 as stamp duty on eligible banking transactions.
The Applicants through a Motion filed by their Counsel, Olumide Babalola, sought inter alia for a Declaration that by virtue of the decision in CA/L/437A/2014 Standard Chartered Bank v Kasmal International Services Ltd (Appeal No: SC/524/2016) delivered on April 21, 2016, the Respondent ought to have issued another Circular directing banks to stop deducting and remitting stamp duties from cash deposits and/or electronic transfers over ₦1000.
The Respondent, through its Counsel, Professor Fabian Ajogwu, SAN opposed the Applicants’ suit and challenged the legality of the reliefs being sought by the Applicants.
The Respondent had argued that that the Court was not vested with the jurisdiction to entertain the matter as the claim is statute barred, and the Judgment which the Applicants is relying on is the subject of an appeal at the Supreme Court. He also argued that the Respondent was an agent of a disclosed principal the Central Bank of Nigeria amongst others.
Delivering his Judgment, Justice Chuka Obiozor, held that the Applicants had failed to prove that they were entitled to an Order of Mandamus compelling the Respondent to issue another Circular directing deposit money banks to stop deducting and remitting stamp duties from cash deposits and/or electronic transfers.
The Court further ruled that the Suit had been overtaken by events by virtue of a prior Federal High Court decision on the same subject matter in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/126/2016 – Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited V. Citibank Nigeria Limited & Central Bank of Nigeria.
The judge reasoned that since there was a subsisting judgment in respect of the same subject matter it was unnecessary to grant the Reliefs sought by the Applicants and consequently struck out the Suit.