The Ogun state government has dragged the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited to court over unpaid tax liabilities running into N9 billion.
In the relevant court documents obtained by SaharaReporters on Sunday, the Ogun State government accused NNPC of immense corruption.
The state government also alleged that there was outright stealing by the staff of the defunct Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), who allegedly paid a total sum of N1 billion to its consultant, Messres Safaya, as part of the money she helped them to save on the tax refund demands by the Ogun State government.
Following the transition of the PPMC, there is the NNPC retail which is for filling station owners and retailers and NNPC trucking, which is for vessels tank farms and others.
However, the state government was surprised that nothing was paid to the state government, but NNPC paid itself to the tune of over a billion naira.
The court documents show that Messres Safaya was paid over N1 billion as 10 per cent consultancy fee but no document shows that the Ogun state government was paid a dime.
A staff member of the corporation who is not happy with the alleged fraud that was committed by the defunct staff members of the corporation cited many instances of direct stealing by the defunct staff of the corporation. The staff member laments that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is turning a blind eye to the “massive fraud going on in NNPC because most of the principal actors involved are their people”.
He alleged that most of the payments to the consultants are being shared by the management of the defunct PPMC.
He challenged the EFCC officials to look at the account of the consultants hired by the management of the PPMC and see how the money was distributed.
Reacting to how much he thinks was paid to consultants from his office, he said he can say categorically that over N20 billion was stolen under the pretext of paying ghost consultants they hired.
He said, “We notice that whenever a certain region and tribe was saddled with the responsibility of doing a job that belongs to the six geo-political regions, there is bound to be massive corruption due to nepotism.
“The present leadership of NNPC stole triple more than their predecessor because the majority of the top management is from a certain part of the country, so there is no check and balances.
“The incoming administration must re-organize the NNPC by making sure that the organization reflects the true spirit of federal character.”
The Applicant (Ogun State government) therefore approached this court seeking the following relief:
“An Order authorizing Temidayo Sokunbi, an officer in the Legal Department of Ogun State Internal Revenue Service to levy a distress on the Respondent by its goods, other chattels, bonds or other securities or upon any land, premises or place of business of the Respondent situate at Mosimi, Sagamu, Ogun State for the sum of N8,500,000,000.00 (Eight Billion, Five Hundred Million Naira) being its tax liability for the year 1999-2020;
“AN ORDER authorizing Temidayo Sokunbi, an officer in the legal Department of Ogun State Internal Revenue Service to execute the said warrant of distress as may be issued by the 1st Applicant and if necessary to break open building or place in the daytime for the purpose of levying such distress and if required to enlist the aid or assistance of a Police Officer who shall assist in the execution of the warrant of distress issued pursuant to the Order of the Honourable Court.”
According to the court document obtained by SaharaReporters, the brief summary of facts, reads, “The application against the Respondent is in connection with its statutory responsibility to deduct and remit deductions from its Ogun State resident Employees to Ogun State Revenue Service and is predicated on an allegation of under deduction and under remittance of taxes for years 1999-2020.
“The Applicant relies on four notices of Assessment dated 4 of November, 2021 and 26 April,2022 for N1,042,142,147,804.80; N1,595,688,650.06; N872,753,586.09 and N15,116,469,168.34 were served on the Respondent in respect of its tax liability for 1999-2020.
“In all, a total of N18,857,497,691.62 was claimed by the Applicant vide its letter of 10th of August, 2022 which also gave a 7 days notice of intention to apply to Court for an Order to levy a distress for non-payment.
“The Respondent duly objected to the additional assessment via a letter dated 15th August, 2022 following which parties made a futile appearance at the Tax Audit Reconciliation Committee (TARC) and subsequent to which the Applicant issued the Respondent with its Notice of Refusal to Amend the tax liability dated 12th October, 2022 insisting on the sum of N18,857,497,691.62.
“According to the Applicant, in its bid to finding an amicable settlement of the unresolved tax dispute, there was an offer by the Governor of Ogun State to accept the sum of N8.5 Billion in full and final settlement of the tax liability for 1999-2020 hence the current application is to levy a distress the Respondent for the sum of N8,500,000,000.00.”
A counter-affidavit in opposition to the motion on notice dated March 20, 2023, deposed to by Kolawole Ogundipe, said, “I am a Litigation Secretary in the office of Royal Heritage, Counsel to the Respondent herein and by virtue of which I am conversant with the facts therein. I have the consent and authority of my employer and the Respondent to depose to this affidavit.
“Whilst reviewing the facts of this suit in our office at No.7, Ikoyi Club, 1938 Road, Ikoyi on 24th of March, 2023, at about Noon, I was informed of the following facts by Chike Okoye of the Respondent’s Legal Department and I verily believe him as follows: (1) That a copy of the Applicant’s Motion on Notice dated 20th of March, 2023 was served on the Respondent on the 24th of March, 2023 together with a 16 paragraphs affidavit of Kayode Ogunkoya and written address filed in support of the application.
“Paragraphs 3,5,6,10,11 of the affidavit is true while the other paragraphs vis 4,7,8,9,12,13,14,15 and 16 are false and do not represent the true position of affairs between the parties.
“He has read the application and knows that the application is in connection with the Respondent/Applicant’s statutory responsibility to deduct and remit deductions from its Ogun State resident employees to Ogun State Revenue Service and is predicated on an allegation of under deduction and under remittance of taxes for years 1999-2020.
“On being served the four notices of Assessment dated 4th of November, 2021 and 26th April, 2022 for N1,042,142,147,804.80; N1,595,688,650.06; N872,753,586.09 and N15,116,469,168.34 in respect of its tax liability for 1999-2020, the Respondent duly objected to the additional assessment via a letter dated 15 August, 2022 following which parties made a futile appearance at the Tax Audit Reconciliation Committee (TARC) and subsequent to which the Applicant issued PPMC with its Notice of Refusal to Amend the tax liability dated 12 October, 2022 insisting on the sum of N18,857,497,691.62.
“From the deposition in the Affidavit of the Applicant, he saw that in its bid to finding an amicable settlement of the unresolved tax dispute, there was an offer by the Governor of Ogun State to accept the sum of N8.5 Billion in full and final settlement of the tax liability for 1999-2020 hence the current application is to levy a distress the Respondent for the sum of N8,500,000,000.00.
“He also saw a copy of the letter dated 14th November, 2022 with Ref No IRS/RM/ENGR/1172 on which the current application is predicated and know for a fact that the letter is addressed to the Group Executive Officer of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, and was never served on the Respondent.
“The Respondent/Applicant’s duly and validly raised an objection to the additional Notices of Assessment. The Applicant failed the assessment criteria by giving an arbitrary assessment without looking carefully at the books of the Respondent or carrying out proper enquiries relating to the Respondent’s PAYE transactions over the period in question.
“The Applicant acted improperly, vindictively, and capriciously and failed to make honest estimate of the proper figure of the assessment for which the provisions of PITA apply.”