Court hears MTN’s suit against FG, CBN over $8.1bn demand

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Justice Saliu Saidu of a Federal High Court in Lagos will, on December 4, commence hearing in a suit filed by MTN Nigeria Communications Limited to challenge the $8,134,312,397.63 being demanded from it by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over alleged forex remittances infractions.
The Court has also directed that hearing notice be served on the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN).

Neither the AGF, who was joined as 2nd defendant in the suit nor his legal representative was present in court yesterday when the matter was mentioned.

At yesterday’s proceedings, MTN was represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), leading 14 other lawyers, while Messrs. Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) and Ademola Akerele (SAN) were on the CBN’s legal team.

In the suit marked, FHC/L/CS/1475/2018, MTN is seeking a court declaration that it is “not liable to refund $8,134,312,397.63 to the coffers of the 1st defendant (CBN) premised on the decisions reached in the apex bank’s letter of 28/8/2018.”

The telecommunications giant is urging the court to declare that that “the 1st defendant’s decision in its letter of August 28, 2018 with Ref No GBD/GOV/COM/DGF/118/121 addressed to it and titled, ‘Investigation into the remittance of foreign exchange on the basis of the illegal capital importation certificates issued to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited’ were reached in breach of the plaintiff’s right to fair hearing.”

MTN wants the court to hold that CBN lacked the power to determine its civil obligations or penal liabilities and, as such, the apex bank acted beyond its statutory powers when it wrote the August 18 letter to it demanding a refund of $8.1 billion.

Aside asking the court to hold that the $8.1 billion demand was illegal, oppressive, abusive, unauthorised and unconstitutional, MTN also wants the court to void the September 3, 2018 letter written to it by the AGF demanding $8.1 billion as “penalties for the offence of ‘infraction of forex remittances’.”

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