By; OLADELE ADEDAYO, Ado-Ekiti.
A High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital will on August 31 deliver judgement in a suit instituted by Catholic Diocese of Ekiti against Ekiti state government on the introduction of the N1,000 and N500 Education Development Levy for pupils in secondary and primary schools in both public and private schools in the state.
The introduction of the levy, it would be recalled the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti, owner of Holy Child’s Nursery and Primary School and Saint Joseph’s Nursery and Primary School, had approached the court, seeking the interpretation of the laws regarding the propriety of the Ayo Fayose government’s action.
The claimant insisted that pupils at that levels are not taxable as demanded by Taxes and Levies Approved List for collection Act, Cap T2 Laws of the Federation 2004 and that the policy should be abrogated.
At the Court’s sitting Thursday, the presiding Judge, Justice Cornelius Akintayo heard both the notice of preliminary objection brought by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Owoseeni Ajayi pursuant to Order 22, Rule 1 of the civil procedure rule and the substantive suit.
The Attorney General in the preliminary objection, averred that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case, saying it was already statute barred and has no cause of action owing to the fact that the government complied with every relevant laws before implementing the policy.
The preliminary objection dated 9th May, 2016 also contained another affidavit dated 16th May, 2016 supported by
numerous exhibits, including a law passed by the House of Assembly empowering the state government to impose taxes and levies and to also regulate same.
He said: “My Lord, by the time you peruse the written address attached to this preliminary objection and the avalanche of exhibits presented, you will come to irresistible conclusion that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain this matter on merit”.
But the claimant through its lawyer, Barr Emmanuel Akingbade, said the defendants erred in law to have brought the notice of preliminary objection through order 22, Rule 1 of the civil procedure rule.
Citing the cases of Disu Vs Adidowura 2006, 14 NWLR, Part 1000 page 783 at page 809 and Gbajabiamila Vs CBN 2014,LP-IR 22756(CA), Akingbade said the objection was misdirected and not properly placed in line with the laws and should be dismissed.
In a notice of the originating summon filed on 22nd April, 2016 deposed to by the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye,
Barr Akingbade said, the defendant was not backed by any valid law to impose levy on both public and primary schools’ pupils.
Akingbade urged the court to determine whether by combined effects of Section 120 (1) of the 1999 constitution, Section 29(g) of the Education Law of Ekiti State and Taxes and Levies Approved List for Collection Act, Cap T2 Laws of the Federation that government can impose tax on pupils in primary and secondary schools.
Akingbade posited that the students were also protected against any levy and extortion by Section 2 of the Universal Basic Education Act and provisions of the Section 1(5) and items 9 and 10 of the part 2 of the second schedule of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
The counsel to the defendants, Ajayi said the claimant was running the private institutions under it to make profit and can’t be protected by the Section 2 of the UBE Act.
“They are running a profit–making organization and they are not protected by the UBE Act. They can’t enjoy free education. They are charging these students and they are expecting the benefit of free education.
“We didn’t prevent their students from registering for WAEC or NECO, they are only using this as subtle blackmail to get favourable judgement.
“Even the UBE Act which they stated did not prevent the state from imposing taxes and levies, so this suit should be dismissed in its entirety”, he said.
Education Levy: EKSG VS Catholic Churh, Court to deliver judgement August 31
By; OLADELE ADEDAYO, Ado-Ekiti.