By our reporter/ The court of appeal in Abuja on Friday ordered both Rivers and Lagos States to maintain status quo over the collection of value-added tax (VAT), pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
According to the appellate court, the order was to preserve the ‘Res’ (subject matter) of the appeal before it.
A three-member panel of justices of the court led by Haruna Tsammani specifically ordered all the parties in the suit to”refrain from taking any action to give effect to the judgement of the Rivers state high court”, which gave Rivers State Government the right to collect VAT revenue, instead of the FIRS.
Earlier, at the court session, Moyosore Onigbanjo, attorney-general of Lagos state, informed the court of an application for the Lagos state government to join as a party in the appeal but the court equally deferred the hearing of Lagos state application for joinder to September 16.
On August 19, Governor Nyesom Wike had on August 19, assented to the Valued Added Tax Law, 2021 along with four others following their passage by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
His action was sequel to the judgement delivered by Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court in the state capital who held that states should collect VAT, and not the Federal Government.
Displeased with the decision of the court, the FIRS filed a motion on notice to apply for a stay of execution on the earlier judgement delivered by Justice Pam but the court 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.
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.