An Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure, yesterday, ordered that the Nigerian Breweries (NB) Plc depot in Akure be sealed off pending the settlement of their tax liabilities to the state government.
Justice William Akintoroye also granted the cross-petition of the state government for the recovery of N169.175 million from the company, being the haulage fees it owed for the period 2017 to 2019.
Consequent upon series of arguments from both the petitioner and the respondents’ counsel, Justice Akinrotoye ruled in favour of the state government, dismissing the petition filed by the NB Plc that it lacked merit.
The court held that the first respondent (Ondo State Government) has the constitutional right and it is the constitutional duty of Nigerian Breweries Plc 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 the company is owing the state government 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 for the payment of haulage fees 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.”
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