Delivering judgment, Justice William Akintoroye dismissed the suit filed by the Nigerian Breweries PLC as lacking in merit.
The company had in suit number AK/l45/2020 attempted to challenge the demand notices served by the Ondo State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives for the payment of haulage fees between 2017 and 2019.
It urged the court to stop the payment of the haulage fees, arguing that it was not liable to pay haulage of goods as part of its object and business.
Nigerian Breweries PLC said the respondents “cannot therefore demand the payment of haulage fee from the petitioner and/or enforce the payment of haulage fees purportedly due to the respondent from third parties transport/haulage companies against the petitioner.”
It sought “an order of the court restraining the respondents from further demanding haulage fees from the petitioner forthwith, as well as restraining the respondents from further harassing and intimidating the employees of the petitioner and from the unlawful disruption and closure of the petitioner’s business premises on the grounds of non-payment of haulage fees.”
“An order of the court directing and/or mandating the respondents to directly enforce the payment and/or collection of the alleged haulage fees due to them, directly from the third parties, transport companies, engaged by the petitioner to transport its drink to Akure, being the companies that actually engaged in haulage and/or haulage business, under the Taxes and Levies (Approved List For Collection) Act, (Amendment) Order, 2015, to wit: AOP Logistics Limited and Tasho Nigeria Limited.”
But Justice Akintoroye held that the Ondo State Government has the constitutional right to demand haulage fees.
He ruled that it was the constitutional duty of Nigerian Breweries PLC to pay haulage fee to the government being the principal to the transport agencies that convey its product.
He also granted the cross-petition of the respondents for the recovery of N169.175 million from the petitioner, being the haulage fee owed.
The court ordered that the Nigerian Breweries PLC’s depot in Akure be sealed pending the settlement of their tax liabilities to the Ondo State Government.