$8.1billion forex: MTN, CBN reach settlement

A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, has adjourned till Dec. 12, for a report of an amicable settlement, a dispute between MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over alleged illegal repatriation of $8.1 billion by the telecommunication company.

Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele

Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele

The Presiding Judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, fixed the date for the report after parties today informed the court that they were engaged in settlement talks.

When the case was mentioned Tuesday, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) announced his appearance alongside four other senior lawyers for MTN, while Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) announced his appearance for CBN, Mr T.D Agbe, Senior State Counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, appeared for the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

Olanipekun then informed the court that”May it please your lordship, the matter today, is slated for the hearing of pending applications, but we owed a duty to inform the court that parties are engaged in talks for an amicable settlement of the matter.

“Counsel have conffered, and in view of this, we are asking for a short date for a report,” the CBN counsel Mr Agbe said.

“We are at the advanced stages towards settlement, and it remains to cross the t’s and dot the i’s; it is just for the report of settlement.”

Following this development and based on an agreement of parties, the court consequently adjourned the case till December 12 for a report of settlement.

MTN filed the suit, seeking an injunction to restrain the CBN and AGF from taking further actions to reclaim the $8.1billion alleged to have repatriated illegally.

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The company is seeking the order of the court to declare that the CBN lacks the power to determine its civil obligations or penal liabilities.

Consequently urging the court to declare that the CBN acted outside its statutory powers when it wrote a letter to it on August 18 this year demanding a refund of 8.1 billion dollars, as the demand was illegal, oppressive, and unconstitutional.

However, CBN alleged that the telecoms firm improperly repatriated dividends, and requested that MTN should return 8.1 billion dollars to its coffers.

Meanwhile, MTN has filed a case before another judge of the same court, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, against the AGF, challenging a withholding tax assessment of $1.3 billion and an import duty tax of N242 billion.

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