VAT Collection: Rivers Govt.Approaches Supreme Court, Appeals Say Order

The Rivers State government has asked the Supreme Court of Nigeria to quash the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which ordered parties to maintain Status Quo in a suit seeking to determine, who has the right to collect Value Added Tax (VAT) in Rivers State.

Rivers Goes To Supreme Court

Justice Stephen Pam of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had in a judgment delivered on August 9, held that the Rivers State government and not the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), had the right to collect VAT and Personal Income Tax in the state.

Also the court of appeal on 10th September ordered all parties in the suit to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the hearing of an application filed by the FIRS seeking to stay the judgment of Justice Pam, in Rivers State and another order of interlocutory injunction restraining Rivers from collecting VAT in the state.

The order giving by Justice Haruna Tsammani for parties to maintain status quo ante bellum and not to give effect to the judgment of Justice Pam was to enable the court hear Lagos State joinder application before taking the motion for stay and interlocutory injunction.

The order did not go down well with the Rivers State government and approached the Supreme Court asking it to set aside the ruling of the appellate court on the ground that the lower court erred in error when ordered that status quo be maintain after it earlier held that the application for joinder by Lagos State must be heard first before the motion for stay and interlocutory injunction by the FIRS.

The appellant maintained that the appellate court lacks the powers to set aside its own judgment, which held that the Lagos application for joinder must be taken before any other application.

In the appeal filed by its lawyer, Mr Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, the Rivers State government argued that the court was wrong in ordering status quo ante bellum after the Rivers State House of Assembly had passed its VAT law, which was assented to by the governor, Nyesom Wike, on August 19.

They, therefore, want the court to set aside the ruling of the Justice Tsammani-led panel against the judgment of Justice Pam for being a nullity.

They also want an order excusing the panel which granted the status quo from further hearing of the appeal.

The appellate court had held that the right of Lagos State would be affected adversely if not heard since the appellant had already made allegations against it.

The suit was subsequently adjourned to September 16 for the hearing