Rivers State Files Appeal At Supreme Court Against Nigerian Government Over Value-Added Tax

2 months ago 25

The Rivers State government has filed appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the Value Added Tax (VAT) dispute between the state and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Emmanuel Ukala, alongside three other senior lawyers approached the Supreme Court to file the notice of appeal.

The Attorney-General of Rivers State is said to be the appellant while the FIRS and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) are joined as respondents.

In the 10 grounds of appeal dated September 13, the state government informed the Supreme Court that it was dissatisfied with the decision of the appellate court delivered on Friday last week in which all parties were directed to maintain status quo.

The implication of the ruling of the appellate court was that parties were restored to their positions before a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt granted the Rivers State government the right to collect VAT, instead of the FIRS on August 9, it explained.

Rivers State, however, alleged that the appeal court erred in law when it relied on the provisions of Section 6(6) of the Constitution and its inherent jurisdiction to found its decision to make an order to maintain status quo in the matter, pending the determination of an appeal filed by FIRS as one of the grounds of appeal.

It was noted that the appellate court in relying on its inherent jurisdiction to make the order failed to appreciate that its inherent jurisdiction cannot be applied in contravention of statutory provisions.

The relief of the Supreme Court was sought by the state government, to allow the appeal, set aside the decision of the appeal court which they complained about, and dismiss the oral application for interim injection made by the FIRS.

It also prayed the apex court to order that the substantive appeal by the FIRS and all other processes, be heard and determined by a new panel of the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal in Abuja had stopped Rivers and Lagos State governments from collecting Value Added Taxes (VAT).

Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami, in a ruling on Friday, directed that the law passed by Rivers State House of Assembly and assented to by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike must be put on hold.

The judge gave the order hours before Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State signed the law on VAT.

The appellate court’s decision followed an application by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), seeking a stay of execution of the order of a Rivers State high court in the matter.

Wike recently signed into law the bill on Value Added Tax (VAT) collection in the state.

He signed the bill which was recently passed by the state House of Assembly at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

He said the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt had sufficiently addressed the illegality perpetrated by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

On Thursday, Lagos State House of Assembly also passed the bill after a unanimous vote by the lawmakers.

However, the court has issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the FIRS and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, from collecting, demanding, threatening and intimidating residents of Rivers to pay to FIRS, personnel income tax and VAT.

Both Rivers and Lagos state governments have already enacted legislations to give effect to the judgment in respect of VAT.

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