Traders sue Abia government over levy

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Say the establishment of special revenue courts is unconstitutional

Traders and residents of some zones in Aba have sued the Abia State Government over payment of infrastructural and sundry levies and the establishment of special revenue courts to try offenders.

The traders, under the aegis of Abia Organisation of Market Associations (AOMA) and residents, insisted that both actions were unconstitutional. The other parties in the joint suit are representatives of the residents of Crystal Park, Ibadan, and Oraeri zones in Aba South Local Government Area of the state.

Other levies in operation in Aba, payment of which had not gone down well with the traders and residents, include levy on fire extinguisher, levy on de-silting of drainages, and levy on operational permit and cyber-cafe premises.

Also in contention were the levy on phone accessories and MTN partners permit for the year, levy on advert on shop without signpost, levy on window advert, current/arrears/enumerating all information levy as well as identification emblem levy.

In the summons instituted at High Court 5, the plaintiffs, through their counsel, Ukpai Ukairo, said it was unconstitutional for the government to create a revenue (special) court under the designation of revenue (special) court order 012 of July 30, 012.
They contended that the law establishing the court was inconsistent with the constitution.

They argued that by the provisions of Section 44 of the 1999 constitution, no person can be taxed except in accordance with a general law.

Consequently, they argued, a citizen could only be tried for an offence that is created by law as provided in Section 36(12) of the constitution.

The parties asked the court to declare that it is inconsistent with their right of fair hearing as guaranteed in the constitution for them to answer to summons issued by the revenue court.

The litigants urged the court to grant them perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from giving further effect to the said notice which designated the revenue (special) court from issuing the summons.

They also urged the court to grant an order setting aside all proceedings conducted by the revenue courts in Aba under the ?designation of revenue (special) court order of July 30, 012.

They called for refund of all monies paid on the basis of any proceedings conducted by the Ministry of Justice, Umuahia and the office of the acting Chief Judge.

The case, which was slated to be heard on Monday, was adjourned to December 3, owing to the absence of the presiding Judge, whose son reportedly died last week.

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