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AEDC’s case against FIRS over N5.3bn tax debt stalls due to failure to comply with court order

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The legal proceedings between the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) have hit a standstill following AEDC’s non-compliance with a Federal High Court order in Abuja.

The court order, issued amidst the backdrop of a December 14, 2023, judgment by the Tax Appeal Tribunal, directs AEDC to settle N5,314,665,952 in Value Added Tax (VAT) and Withholding Tax (WHT) liabilities dating back to 2013.

The motion was scheduled to be heard and moved today. 

At the resumed sitting on Tuesday, the AEDC lawyer, Josephine Titi told Justice Inyang Ekwo that she has four pending applications and was ready to move the one dated March 8, 2024. 

But the judge said the motion was not before him. The lawyer insisted that her motion was in the court’s file but later opted to give the court her copy of the motion, but the judge refused the oral application. 

Ekwo said he had ordered “parties to conduct a search on their file in court and ensure that the process they will be moving on the next date is in their file” but the AEDC lawyer did not comply with it order. 

AEDC had approached the court after a five-man Tax Appeal Commissioners led by its presiding judge, Hon. Iriogbe Alice, entered a judgment against the electricity billing company in suit No: TAT/ABJ/APP/330/2022. 

The AEDC’s legal team argued that sometime in 2018, the FIRS, in conjunction with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) conducted a tax investigation on the company for the 2013-2017 years of assessment period (YOA), and claimed it was owing in billions. 

The AEDC disagreed with the findings of the tax collection agency, adding the FIRS did not provide any lawful basis for such liability. 

However, the FIRS legal team objected to the appellant’s claims that its assessment was invalid. 

The Tribunal subsequently declared its judgment against AEDC. 

It declared, 

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