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MultiChoice Vs FIRS: Tax Tribunal’s Strange Flip-flop



multichoice nigeria

By Bashir Oyintiloye

Over the last three months, the Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) has been among the headlines, notably for the tax disputes between pay television service provider, MultiChoice Nigeria, its parent company, MultiChoice Africa Holdings, and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

It is a safe bet that the TAT has the attention of the business and investment communities locked on it, as it carries enormous implications. 

It is unlikely to be otherwise, particularly with the wildly different rulings it delivered in very similar matters it ruled on.

The most recent, delivered in Abuja on 26 October, saw the tribunal dismiss the appeal of MultiChoice Africa Holdings against an alleged $342million Value Added Tax bill given to it by the FIRS.

The TAT, in delivering its ruling, upheld the objection of the FIRS to the appeal of MultiChoice Africa Holdings, stating that the company had neglected to comply with Order 3 Rule 6 of the TAT (Procedure) Rules, 2021, which were issued by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Shamsuna Zainab Ahmed in June but did not become public knowledge until late in September.

Order 3 Rule 6 of the new TAT rules requires an appellant to pay half of the disputed assessment as security deposit before it could file an appeal before the tribunal. It also requires the appellant to file an affidavit verifying the payment, which TAT also ruled that MultiChoice Africa Holdings failed to comply with.

Curiously, a week before, the TAT, sitting in Lagos, in the appeal filed by MultiChoice Nigeria, had ruled in favour of the appellant, dismissing the FIRS’ objection to the continuation of the appeal. The Nigerian subsidiary had filed an appeal against the alleged tax liability of N1.8 trillion issued to it by the FIRS. On 24 August, the tribunal, relying on Paragraph 15 (7) Fifth Schedule of the FIRS Establishment Act, directed MultiChoice Nigeria to pay a security deposit for its appeal to be heard. The FIRS interpreted the ruling to mean that MultiChoice Nigeria should pay N900 billion, 50 per cent of the disputed assessment, for the appeal to be heard.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on 23 September, MultiChoice Nigeria argued that it had complied with the tribunal’s ruling and Paragraph 15 (7) of the FIRS Act via the payment of N8 billion in two tranches.

Paragraph 15 (7) of the FIRS Act gives the tribunal power to direct an appellant, in certain circumstances, to make a security deposit for the continuation of an appeal. pay 50 percent of the tax paid the previous year plus 10 percent mark-up as security before prosecuting an appeal.

The FIRS, however, urged the TAT to discontinue the hearing of the appeal and rule against the company if it failed to show proof of full compliance with the directive to pay N900 billion, 50 percent of the N1.8 trillion tax assessment, for the years under review.

The TAT adjourned till 20 October and on the day, it dismissed the FIRS’ objection to the appeal.

“It is obvious that the appellant has not only complied with the orders of this court but has also provided sufficient evidence before this tribunal that they are credible and ready to pursue this matter with all sense of responsibility and seriousness. It is only fair and just that they are given the privilege to do so,” ruled the tribunal.

The tribunal also disagreed with the FIRS that MultiChoice Nigeria was required to pay half of the assessment for all the years under review, ruling that the FIRS Act explicitly says the “preceding-year”, not “years.”

I have found it mystifying, dangerous even, that the tribunal sang from different hymn sheets, relying on the new TAT rules for one ruling and the FIRS Act for the other. As tax and legal experts have pointed out, the new TAT rules-a body of subsidiary legislations-cannot override the provisions of an act.  The blanket 50 per cent payment prescribed by the new tax tribunal procedures is inconsistent with the FIRS Act, which lists the conditions under which a directive on deposit may be issued. The tribunal, states the section, may direct the payment of security deposit if the FIRS proves that an appellant has, for the year of assessment, failed to file returns or deems the appeal an abuse of the appeal process or it is expedient to require the appellant to pay an amount as security for prosecuting the appeal. 

If any of these conditions are present, the section states that the tribunal may adjourn the hearing and order the appellant to deposit with the FIRS an amount “on account of the tax charged by the assessment under appeal, equal to the tax charged upon the appellant for the preceding year of assessment or one half of the tax charged by the assessment under appeal, whichever is the lesser plus a sum equal to ten percent of the said deposit”.

Former Permanent Secretary and Solicitor-General, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mr. Lawal Pedro (SAN), was quoted in the media as describing Order 3 Rule 6 as akin to a forced admission of liability before actual adjudication of the dispute.

 “This will amount to forced admission of liability before adjudication of dispute contrary to our justice system of fair hearing and equality before the law,” he said.

Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) Mr. Monday Ubani, expressed similar sentiments, saying the new rules are at variance with the grain of rationality and the country’s legal jurisprudence. 

“It is an affront to the rights of fair hearing and access to justice guaranteed by the constitution of Nigeria. I have personally written to the Minister of Finance over this issue and highlighted the dangers of the Rules, which are capable of stifling businesses and sending a wrong signal to prospective investors,” Ubani stated.

The glaring inconsistency of the tribunal’s last ruling with the substantive legislation is a curious one. In addition to being unjust, it also carries the potential to injure the economic well-being of the country. The new tribunal rules effectively empower tax authorities to come up with whimsical assessments and prevent the taxpayer from appealing. The latter will create cash flow problems for businesses, suffocating them, and making the country’s investment environment unappealing to domestic and foreign investors.

Oyintiloye, investor and public commentator, writes from Ibadan

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Six Years On: Dangote Still ” Most Admired Brand” In Africa



World Water Day: Dangote, Others Make Case For GroundWater Protection

…2nd in Sustainability brand in Africa among top 100 brands

Rashidat Okunlade Writes

For the sixth consecutive year, the Dangote brand has been adjudged as the Most Admired African Brand among the top 100 brands in the continent.

Dangote, as the most Admired African when respondents are prompted to recall an African brand specifically was followed by the Telecommunication outfit, MTN in the second position and Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) coming third, both of South African origin.

The pan-African conglomerate brand was also adjudged as the number one African Pride brand followed by the Ethiopian Airline and MTN respectively.

In a newly introduced category, the Dangote brand came second in Sustainability, by brands doing good for the people, Society, and the Environment.

These were announced in Johannesburg, South Africa on the occasion of Africa Day marking the 13th Annual Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands 2023 rankings of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa based on a survey and rankings conducted by Geopoll, Kantar, and Brand Leadership, across 32 African countries that account for more than 85% of the continent’s GDP and population.

Brand Africa in its statement announcing the ranking disclosed that in a new category of brands that are doing good for people, society, and the environment, inspired by business shifting from profit to purpose, MTN and Dangote as African brands came first and second respectively while Unicef emerged as the number one NGO and Coca-Cola emerged as the number one non-African brand.

In the category-specific ranking of the Top 25 financial services brands, Africa’s oldest banking group, Standard Bank surged to the number one position of the most admired brand in Africa, displacing GTBank, which had led the rankings for the past 3 years, but is reeling from recent UK regulatory issues, service challenges, and a tough competitive environment. The category is dominated by South African (6) and Nigerian (6) brands which account for 48% of the rankings, with the USA (4), led by VISA, at 16% percent, making up 64% of the Top 25 brands.

In another category-specific ranking of the Top 25 media brands, DSTV, the consumer brand of the Multichoice Group, retains its dominant ranking ahead of BBC and CNN as the most admired media brand in Africa. Consistent with previous rankings, non-African media dominate the continent, accounting for 76% of the Top 25 brands.

Brand Africa disclosed that Dangote retained the number one spot for the 6th time despite African brands slipping to 14% of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa as non-African brands entrench their position in the continent.

Thebe Ikalafeng, founder and chairman of Brand Africa expressed concern that despite optimism about the progress of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and another initiative to drive African initiatives, African brands still regressed 20% from a 10-year high of 17% to 14% share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa.

“It is concerning that despite the momentum in operationalizing the AfCFTA, rising internal pride in the continent albeit against global economic challenges, that African consumers have reverted to their trusted, mostly non-Africa brands, rather than give African brands a chance,” he stated. “Nonetheless, this is the state of brands in Africa, and an urgent need to build trust in Made in African brands.”

Bernard Okasi, the Director of Research, GeoPoll, which has been the lead data collection partner since 2015 while speaking on the outcome of the survey explained  “With an ever-increasing number of countries, greater sample size, and the growth of mobile across the continent, more than ever, using mobile continues to prove to be an effective tool to reach and access respondents across the continent”.

The Chief Growth Officer Africa Middle East for Kantar, Karin Du Chenne,  who has been the insight lead for Brand Africa since its inception in 2010 says, “Despite the increased countries and sample sizes which have invariably grown the volumes of brands analysed, the survey continues to yield a very consistent picture of the leading brands in the continent, albeit not yet to Africa’s advantage.”

He added that as a non-profit initiative and to ensure the objectivity and independence of the rankings, the Brand Africa 100 | Africa’s Best Brands research to determine the most admired top-of-mind brands in Africa are not funded by any brand.

Reacting to the last survey affirming Dangote as the number one most admired indigenous African brand, Group Chief, Branding and Communication, Dangote Industries Limited, Anthony Chiejina said the awards were well deserved because “the Dangote brand generates strong nationalistic impressions and powerful feelings across the Continent in terms of industrialization, self-sufficiency, prosperity, power, and production.”

He stated that this was further strengthened with the recent commissioning of 650,000 bpd  Dangote Petroleum Refinery & Petrochemical complex which is a huge industrial complex or frigate. “The brand portends the inevitability of Nigerian global ascendancy and a gateway to regional and continental development”, he added.

Established in 2010, Brand Africa is an intergenerational movement to inspire a brand-led African renaissance to drive Africa’s competitiveness, connect Africa and create a positive image of the Continent.





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Nestlé MILO Basketball Championship 2023: FCT, Niger Shine In Central Conference



Nestlé MILO Basketball Championship 2023

By Moninuola Sulaiman

It is a dream come true for coach Emmanuel Biodun Tanko, head coach of Father O’Connell Science College, Minna, Niger State, as his team defeated their counterparts from Government Secondary School, Karu, FCT in the final of the boys’ category in the just concluded Central Conference of the MILO Basketball Championship.

According to Coach Tanko, his team lost to the same opponents last year in the same championship. On the team’s preparation on the road to victory this year, Coach Tanko said, “We had a 70-day period of training. During Ramadan, we were there. It is a testimony that hard work pays off. Also, without God, we would not have been able
to achieve this feat.”

Captain of the winning team from Father O’Connell Science College, Minna, Niger State, Mahmood Mustapha Mohammed, thanked Nestlé MILO for supporting and sponsoring them. The young man who says his dream is to play globally recognized stars in the National Basketball Association (NBA) one day, also said, “I want to give a big shout-out to our parents and coaches for always being there for us and believing in us, trusting that we will come back with the trophy.”

Nestlé MILO Basketball Championship 2023

Funmilola Oyewole – Category Development Manager Beverages at Nestlé Nigeria PLC delivering the welcome address during the finale of the Central Conference of the 23rd MILO Basketball Championship at the Indoor Sports Hall, Package ‘B’ of the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja on May 18, 2023.


Nestlé MILO Basketball Championship 2023

Players and officials of Father O’Connell Science College, Minna, Niger State receiving their champions trophy and MILO gifts from Funmilola Oyewole – Category Development Manager Beverages at Nestlé Nigeria PLC, and Mr. Victor Anyanwu Events Manager at Nestlé Nigeria PLC Central Conference of the 23rd MILO Basketball Championship at the Indoor Sports Hall, Package ‘B’ of the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja on May 18, 2023.

The boys from Father O’Connell Science College, Minna, Niger State fought hard in a keenly contested encounter to defeat the boys from Government Secondary School, Karu, FCT with 53 points to 49. They were therefore crowned champions in the boys’ category at the Central Conference of the 23rd MILO Secondary Schools Basketball
Championship was held in Abuja from the 12th to the 19th of May 2023.

In the final game of the girls’ category of the championship, Government Secondary School, Karu, FCT defeated their counterparts from Queen Amina College, Kakuri, Kaduna State by 35 points to 24 points. Both Father O’Connell Science College, Minna, Niger State, and Government Secondary School, Karu, FCT will represent the Central Conference at the national finals of the 23rd MILO Basketball Championship in Lagos in July.

Other teams who will be in Lagos for the national finals are winners from the already concluded Savannah Conference which was held in Kano from the 3rd to the 10th of May and winners from the two upcoming conferences – Atlantic Conference in Asaba from the 20th to 27th of May and Western Conference in Ibadan from May 30th to June 6th, 2023.

Category Manager for Beverages, Nestlé Nigeria, Mr. Olutayo Olatunji, reiterated Nestle’s commitment to developing talents, promoting healthier lifestyles, and instilling values for success in life through sports. “MILO, firmly believes that through participation in sports, children learn enduring values to help them achieve success in life,” he said.

“We are, therefore, pleased to have this opportunity to provide a platform where young talents find expression through MILO Secondary School Basketball Championship. On the field of play, the teams depend on the discipline,
perseverance, courage, self-belief, and respect that they imbibe during practice and through their interactions with each other. These life skills are not only for basketball; they equip the players to navigate their careers and to be productive in society.

In a nutshell, ‘the GRIT’ you learn in sport, you keep for life.” Nestlé Nigeria’s MILO Secondary School Basketball Championship has been promoting the value of grit for over 23 years, helping schoolchildren learn essential life skills such as resilience, persistence, stamina, cooperation, and self-belief. These values enable them to overcome challenges and achieve their goals in life.

Nestlé continues to lead grassroots sports development in Nigeria through its MILO Basketball Championship, contributing to the growth of many players in the Nigerian national teams, and notable clubs across the world today.

States who competed in the Central Conference of the MILO Basketball Championship at the Indoor Sports Hall, Package ‘B’ of the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja from the 12th to 19th of May, 2023 are Kebbi, Kogi, Nasarawa, and host FCT.

Others are Kaduna, Niger, Plateau, Benue and Sokoto states. The MILO Basketball Championship has grown tremendously from about 500 schools at its commencement in 1999. It now reaches over 150,000 individual players from over 10,000 schools across Nigeria every year.

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Spectra Present Instant Hyfiba Meal To Lagos NASSI



Spectra Launches Hifiba Instant Meal

Spectra Industries Limited, home of functional foods has presented Instant Hyfiba Meal to the Nigerian Association Of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) Lagos Chapter.

The presentation on Wednesday is to show Lagos NASSI senior members how INSTANT HYFIBA MEAL is been prepared without wasting time or any form of energy.

Hyfiba meal



Spectra Launches Hifiba Instant Meal Spectra Launches Hifiba Instant Meal Spectra Launches Hifiba Instant Meal Spectra Launches Hifiba Instant Meal Spectra Launches Hifiba Instant Meal Spectra Launches Hifiba Instant Meal

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