The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja presided over by Justice Abdul Aboki has validated the collection of Entertainment Tax in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by FCT Administration.
The court stated this while delivering judgment an appeal involving the Honourable Minister of FCT and Olayinka Olayemi Hotels Limited
The Appeal Court in its judgment of 19th May, 2017 unanimously set aside the judgment of the trial Court which invalidated the power of FCT Minister to make any regulation under the Entertainment Tax Act and upheld the powers of the FCT Minister to collect Entertainment Tax in the Territory.
The appeal arose from the suit instituted by Olayinka Olayemi Hotels Limited at the FCT High Court challenging the collection of Entertainment Tax in FCT and FCT Minister’s promulgation of Entertainment Tax and Event Fee Regulation 2014.
The FCT high court sitting in Kuje in its judgment of 30th June, 2016 had set aside all the powers of the FCT Minister in respect of promulgation of Entertainment Tax and Event Fee Regulation 2014, thereby stopping the collection of Entertainment Tax in the territory.
Consequently, with the judgment of the Appeal Court which has validated the FCT Minister’s power, all legal impediments to the collection of Entertainment Tax in the Federal Capital Territory have been removed.
Prior to the commencement of the collection of the Entertainment Tax, and Event Centers Fee Regulation 2014 was made by the FCT Executive Council stipulating the scope and operation of the tax. Thus, the collection of entertainment Tax in the FCT began on the 25th of February 2015 after a formal flag off of the scheme by the FCT Administration.
Upon the implementation of the Entertainment Tax and Event Centers Fee Regulation 2014, some entertainment providers instituted actions in the court challenging the imposition of the Tax in FCT wherein the trial judge in his judgment invalidated the collection on the ground that Minister of FCT has no power to make such regulation.
After considering the arguments of both parties the justices of Appeal Court avowed that the learned trial judge erred when he held that the Entertainment Tax and Event Centres Fee Regulation 2014 made by the Minister of FCT pursuant to section 4 of the FCT and section 11 of the Entertainment Tax were null and void as he is not the Minister of Finance and when he submitted that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is the body empowered to enforce tax laws and enactments in the FCT.
The learned Justices of the Appeal Court explained that since section 11 of the Entertainment Tax Act empowers the “Minister” to make regulations for the purpose of the Act, then it goes without saying that the FCT Minster is imbibed with such powers and has the powers to make the Entertainment and Event Centres Fee regulation 2014. This, they said was made by the combined effect of Section 11 of the Entertainment Act and Section 13(3) (b) of the FCT Act.
The Justices added that by the provisions of section 13(3) (b)of the Federal Capital Territory Act, Cap F6 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004, any power conferred on any Minister under the Act shall be cast in the minister of FCT.
Section 13(3) (b) of FCT Act states –
”functions conferred by any such law on the Governor, Premier, Military Governor or any Commissioner in the Government of a State shall, without prejudice to the exercise of those functions by the president and until other provisions in respect of any such function is made by the authority having power to do so, vest in the Minister charged with the responsibility for the Federal Capital Territory.’’
The Solicitor General, FCTA Barrister Yusuf H. Wodi esq enjoined the general public particularly Abuja residents to take note of this judgment and comply accordingly.
Hauwa Y. Sani
PRO Legal Services Secretariat