Nigeria’s attorney general exceeded his powers in demanding US$2 billion in taxes and charges from MTN Group, the telecoms firm said in papers filed with Nigeria’s High Court and reviewed by Reuters.
Earlier this month, the Nigerian government handed Africa’s biggest telecoms company a US$2 billion tax bill days after the central bank, in a separate move, ordered MTN’s Lagos unit to hand over US$8.1 billion that it said was illegally sent abroad.
Nigeria, which accounts for a third of MTN’s annual core profit, is MTN’s biggest market. Some analysts see politics as a factor in the pressure on MTN as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in 2015 on promises to push through tougher regulation, is seeking re-election in 2019.
“The attorney-general of the federation (of Nigeria) acted illegally, unconstitutionally, and in excess of his powers” by implementing charges in a “self-assessment exercise” that related to customs, the inland revenue and import duties, the court documents state.
The attorney general’s spokesman did not immediately respond to phone calls and a text message requesting a comment.