VAT COLLECTION DISPUTE: Oyo State Seeks To Join Rivers, Lagos Against FIRS

When waters are yet to settle on The dispute over collection of Value Added Tax by Lagos and Rivers State, the Oyo State government has asked the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to join it in the suit instituted by the Rivers State government against the Attorney-General of the Federation in respect to the bid by the state to take over the collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from the Federal Government.

Oyo joins suit

Taiwo Adisa, Chief Press Secretary to Oyo state Governor, in a statement on Thursday, September 30th says the suit, instituted by the Attorney-General of Oyo State, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, is seeking an order of the Appellate Court to enable Oyo State join the suit as an interested party.

The state government according to the press statement is also seeking an order to join the state Attorney-General as a respondent on same appeal with suit number FHC/PH/CS/149/2020 and appeal number CA/PH/282/2021, including any order the Court may deem fit.

The Attorney-General of Oyo State, however noted that the Oyo State government was unaware of the suit between the Attorney-General of Rivers State and the Federal Inland Revenue Service at the Federal High Court until the judgement was delivered.

Other grounds upon which the application was made, the press statement further stated is hinged on the grounds of the likely benefits to be made by the oyo state government in the event that the decision of the appellate court favors state collection of value added tax.

In the meantime, the court of appeal in Abuja has granted the application filed by lagos state to be made a necessary party in the appeal filed by the federal inland revenue service (FIRS).

The court held that lagos state established that it has substantal and sufficient legal right and interest to protect in the revenue collection dispute.

In a unanimous ruling, the court ordered that all processes filed in respect of the suit be served on lagos state as a third respondent to enable the state respond as required by law to the appeal filed by FIRS.

Justice Haruna Tsamani who delivered the lead ruling fixed october 7 for continuation of hearng in the matter.

The appeal by the firs is against August 9, 2021 judgment by justice Steven Pam of the federal high court in port-harcourt, voiding the value added tax (VAT) act and holding the states could collect vat.

The lagos state attorney general, Moyosore Onigbanjo had on the last adjourned date moved an application for joinder, stating thats his client is a necessary party, and that lagos state, was entitled to collect value added tax, VAT, and the VAT act, which was earlier approved.

Counsel for Rivers state, Ifedayo Adedipe who agreed with Onigbajo, urged the court to join lagos, while counsel for firs and the attorney general of the federation, Mahmud Magaji and Tijani Gazali argued otherwise and prayed the court not to join lagos.

FIRS had through a motion on notice applied for a stay of execution on the earlier judgement delivered by justice Stephen Pam of the Port Harcourt high court which affirmed the constitutional role of the state governments to collect VAT and not FIRS.