ICAN MEMBERS CAN PRACTICE TAXATION UNHINDERED
The attention of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) has been drawn to the various newspaper reports on the recently delivered judgement of the Appeal Court on the matter of the right of Chartered Accountants and other eligible professionals to practise Taxation in Nigeria unhindered.
To set the records straight, we wish to state that, contrary to the impression erroneously and mischievously created in the media and among stakeholders ever since, the court’s judgement did not restrain ICAN members who are not CITN members from practising taxation in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, the two key reliefs sought by CITN, which form the kernel of the controversy between the two bodies (reliefs 3 & 5), were actually set aside by the court, namely:
3. A declaration that it is illegal for any member of the defendant (ICAN) who is not a member of the Claimant (CITN) to practice or hold himself out to practice as a tax administrator or practitioner for or in expectation of reward in Nigeria.
5. An order restraining members of the Defendant (ICAN) who are not members of the Claimant (CITN) from practicing, representing or holding themselves out as Tax Administrators or Practitioners in violation of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria Act No. 76 of 1992 Cap C10 LFN 2004.”
The court however granted the following reliefs (1, 2 & 4):
1. A declaration that Taxation is legally recognized in Nigeria as a Profession separate and distinct from the Accountancy profession.
2. A declaration that the Claimant (CITN) is vested with power to regulate and control the practice of taxation in all its ramifications to the exclusion of the Defendant (ICAN) or any other professional body or Institution in Nigeria.
4. A declaration that it is unlawful for the Defendant (ICAN) to forestall or impede the Claimant’s efforts to regulate tax practice.
It would be recalled that the ruling delivered by the Honourable Justice Mrs. Okunnu- Shuaibu at a Lagos High Court in 2007, granted all the five reliefs sought by CITN based on the suit filed by the body in 2005. That was the basis for the ICAN recourse to the Appeal court, requesting the Court of Appeal to set the reliefs aside.
The judgement of February 15, 2013 by the Court of Appeal, in upholding the lower Court’s decision on prayers 1, 2 and 4 and setting aside prayers 3 and 5, has indeed vindicated ICAN MEMBERS and made it clear that there is no order restraining members of the Institute from practicing tax in Nigeria.
For the avoidance of doubt, we hereby reiterate that while the Court of appeal held that Taxation is a profession distinct from accountancy and gave CITN powers to regulate and control the practice of taxation, CITN was denied the right to declare it illegal for ICAN members who are not members of CITN to practise as Tax administrators for a reward in Nigeria. The Court of Appeal also refused to grant a perpetual injunction restraining ICAN members who are not CITN members from practicing, representing or holding themselves out as Tax Administrators or Practitioners in violation of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria Act No. 76 of 1992 Cap C10 LFN 2004.
The import of the judgement is clear to all and sundry: ICAN members can practise taxation unhindered without being members of CITN.
ICAN wishes to use this medium to appeal to its members, other stakeholders and the public at large not to be misled by the media hype. The court ruling, which nobody can alter, is available for all to read and draw their conclusions therefrom.
As a law abiding body of respectable professionals, ICAN, which was established by the Act of Parliament No 15 of 1965, has operated within the limits of the rule of Law in the past forty eight years. Our motto is Accuracy and Integrity and we will not allow anything to distract or derail us.
We acknowledge and appreciate the important role of the media in information dissemination in the country and we believe that well meaning and discerning Nigerians who were not in the picture will now take time to know the issues involved in the matter of CITN and ICAN and discountenance the misinformation being spread and the sentiments being whipped up in some quarters.
Adedoyin Idowu Owolabi, BSc (Econs), MILR, MNIM, FCA
48th President, ICAN