By Toby Prince
Counsel for MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd Wole Olanipekun (SAN) on Tuesday told the Federal High Court in Lagos that its client was engaged in settlement talks with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over alleged illegal repatriation of $8.1 billion by the telecoms company.
On hearing that, Justice Saliu Saidu told the counsels to bring the report of the talks before the court on December 12.
“May it please your lordship, the matter today, is slated for hearing of pending applications, but we owe the court a duty to inform it that parties are engaged.
“Counsels have conferred, and in view of this, we are asking for a short date for report,” Olanipekun said.
Likewise, CBN counsel Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) said: “We have advanced stages towards settlement, and it remains to cross the Ts and dot the Is; it is just for report of settlement.”
NAN reports that MTN had filed the suit, seeking an injunction to restrain the CBN and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from taking further actions to reclaim the alleged debts.
MTN wants the court to hold that CBN lacks power to determine its civil obligations or penal liabilities. It is urging the court to declare that the CBN acted outside its statutory powers when it wrote a letter to it on August 18 demanding a refund of $8.1 billion.
CBN alleged that MTN improperly repatriated dividends, requesting that the money be returned.
Meanwhile, MTN had filed a sister case before another judge of 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.
Justice Aneke has fixed February 7 for hearing of all pending applications in this suit.