VAT Collection: Rivers govt ask  S’Court to set aside A’Court ruling 

Dissatisfied  with  Court of Appeal ruling stopping it from collecting Value Added Tax,the Rivers State government has asked the Supreme Court to set aside the ruling in VAT dispute between it and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The appellate court had in the ruling ordered the parties  to maintain status quo . Rivers State government on Tuesday through.Mr. Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, along side three other senior lawyers filed a notice of appeal at the apex court praying it to overrule Court of Appeal.

The appellant , Attorney-General of Rivers State  informed the apex Court in the appeal which the FIRS and AttorneyGeneral of the Federation (AGF) are joined as respondents that it was dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of  Appeal delivered on Friday, September  10, in which all parties were directed to maintain status quo.

Rivers state government, in the 10 grounds of appeal dated September 13, explained that the  Court of Appeal restored parties 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.

In one of the grounds of appeal, Rivers State 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.

According to it, 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 state government, therefore, sought relief from the Supreme Court 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 asked 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.

Following the judgement delivered by Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, assented to the Valued Added Tax Law, 2021.

The bill had been passed by lawmakers in the Rivers State House of Assembly, along with four others that were also assented to by the governor.

But the FIRS, which was apparently displeased with the development, filed a motion on notice to apply for a stay of execution on the earlier judgement delivered by Justice Pam.

The court, in its ruling, refused the application, saying the federal agency failed to file an application to set aside the tax law recently enacted by the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Justice Pam, therefore, stated that the state law on VAT was valid and subsisting, paving the way for Governor Wike to direct the state’s revenue agency to fully implement the VAT law.

The FIRS later approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja with a civil motion seeking a stay of the execution of the judgement earlier granted by the court in Rivers pending the determination of the case.

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Haruna Tsammani then directed all parties to maintain the status quo and refrain from taking action that would give effect to the judgement delivered by Justice Pam, pending the hearing and determination of the instant suit.