Wike heads to Supreme Court over VAT collection

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Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

 

The Nyesom Wike-led Rivers State Government has filed an appeal before the Supreme Court over the ruling of the Court of Appeal stopping its collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).

The Court of Appeal in Abuja had in a ruling on Friday, September 10, ordered that the status quo be maintained in the law passed by Rivers State House of Assembly and assented to by Governor Ezenwo Wike for the collection of VAT in the state be put on hold pending the determination of pending issues in the appeal.

This followed an appeal by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which challenged an order of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt on August 9.

The court had upheld the powers of the state to collect VAT and Personal Income Tax.

The court also issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the FIRS and the Attorney General of the Federation, from collecting, demanding, threatening and intimidating residents of Rivers State to pay to FIRS, personnel income tax and VAT.

But counsel to Rivers State, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), is arguing before the apex court that the Court of Appeal justices erred in law when they relied on inherent jurisdiction of the court to make an order for status quo ante, “which they identified as restoring the parties to the position they were before the judgement of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt on August 9, 2021.”

Ukala further contends that inherent jurisdiction cannot be applied in contravention of statuettes as provided in Order 6 Rule 1 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016.

He contends that the appellate court breached Rivers government’s right to fair hearing when it entertained a vague oral application seeking maintenance of status quo “‘simpliciter’ and even went ahead to make far-reaching orders they said were aimed at maintaining status quo ante bellum.”

He further submitted that the Court occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice by failing to apply necessary judicial caution in the face of the pending motion for stay of execution and injunction in respect of which the parties had submitted to the jurisdiction of the court.

Although no date has been fixed for hearing, the Court of Appeal had fixed September 16 for hearing of Lagos State Government’s application to join the suit. The state has already passed the law on VAT.

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