The suit filed by the Federal Government against seven commercial banks suffered set back at a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Wednesday.
The suit, it was gathered was struck out by the presiding judge who awarded N200,000 against the Federal Government and in favour of all the affected banks except Skye Bank which was not represented in court.
The suit sought the remittance of the sum of $793,200,000 allegedly hidden with them in contravention of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.
The banks are Skye Bank Plc, First Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Yemi Akinseye-George on Tuesday filed a notice of discontinuance of the suit, based on public interest as it decided to explore an ‘out of court settlement’ with the banks.
Lawyers to the banks had no objections to the notice of discontinuance but they insisted that the proper application is for the court to dismiss the suit and award cost against the Federal Government.
In his ruling, Obiazor held that the dismissal of an action is one of the gravest actions a plaintiff can face and so the court must be slow to take this option and only exercise such a discretion judiciously.
After considering the reasons for the withdrawal of the suit, the court held that since the case had yet to proceed to trial, the proper order to make was to strike out the suit.
In awarding cost, Obiazor held that the banks had placed no evidence before him to support the damage to their reputation as a result of the actions of the federal government.
He, therefore, used his discretion to award a cost of N200,000 each.
…clarifies 27 businesses to enjoy tax break
The Federal Government has further shed light on the businesses to enjoy tax break on the pioneer status.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had last week approved the additional 27 new industries and products approved to benefit tax exemption.
The Executive Secretary, Nigeria Investment Promotion Council, NIPC, Yewande Sadiku, told online medium, PREMUM TIMES in Abuja that companies that would enjoy pioneer status were only those that ventured to invest in industries that were either non-existent at all, or the country did not have sufficient presence for its economic development.
“Pioneer status does not relate to only new industries or entrants to the economy,” Ms. Sadiku noted.
In trying to encourage the establishment or growth of the industry and the economy, she said government decided to look at its priority sectors in the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, by promoting the 27 industries and products in the approved status document.
Sadiku said businesses that have existed for several years in a particular sector may not enjoy the pioneer status, except such companies ventured into a brand-new line of business covered under the list of 27 new industries and products.
“For instances, big companies, like JUMIA, who have established themselves in the e-commerce business sector as well as those in the music industry would not enjoy tax exemption by the government under the new regime.
“The pioneer status actually applies to those involved in their first year of business or operations. Clearly those older than that would not benefit,” she explained.
The objective of government, she pointed out, was to attract more people to invest in those sectors that have no investments to contribute to the growth of the economy.
The list of 27 industries and products published on Monday by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja included mining and processing of coal; processing and preservation of meat/poultry and production of meat/poultry products; manufacture of starches and starch products; processing of cocoa; manufacture of animal feeds; tanning and dressing of leather, manufacture of leather footwear, luggage and handbags; manufacture of household and personal hygiene paper products and manufacture of paints, vanishes and printing ink.
Others included manufacture of plastic products (builders’ plastic ware) and moulds; manufacture of batteries and accumulators; manufacture of steam generators; manufacture of railway locomotives, wagons and rolling stock; manufacture of metal-forming machinery and machine tools, manufacture of machinery for metallurgy, manufacture of machinery for food and beverage processing; manufacture of machinery for textile, apparel and leather production; and manufacture of machinery for paper paperboard production.
Also included were, manufacture of plastics and rubber machinery; waste treatment, disposal and material recovery; e-commerce services; software development and publishing; motion picture, video and television programme production, distribution, exhibition and photography; music production, publishing and distribution; real estate investment vehicles under the Investments and Securities Act; mortgage backed securities under the Investments and Securities Act; and business process outsourcing.