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Rivers drags Nigerian govt to Supreme Court over VAT

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The Rivers State government on Tuesday dragged the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to the Supreme Court over the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).

In a suit filed by its Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Rivers State asked the Supreme Court to set aside the Court of Appeal’s order which directed the state to maintain status quo on the collection of VAT pending the determination of an appeal filed by the FIRS.

The Federal High Court, Port Harcourt issued an order restraining the FIRS from collecting VAT and Personal Income Tax (PIT) in Rivers state.

The agency later filed a stay of execution which was dismissed by the court.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, FIRS approached the Court of Appeal to take a second look at the matter.

A three-member panel of the appellate court in a ruling on Friday ordered all the parties in the suit to maintain the status quo on the matter.

The panel refrained the parties from taking any action on the lower court’s ruling which gave Rivers State government the right to collect VAT instead of the FIRS.

READ ALSO: Gov Wike threatens to shut down banks, other businesses that pay VAT to FIRS

In its 10 grounds of appeal, the Rivers State government asked the apex court to order that the substantive appeal by the FIRS marked CA/PH/282/2021, and all other processes therein, be heard and determined by a new panel of the Appeal Court.

Rivers maintained that Justice Haruna Tsammani-led panel of the Appeal Court erred in law when it relied on the provisions of Section 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution and the inherent jurisdiction of the appellate court to order all the parties to maintain status quo on the dispute.

It argued that the Court of Appeal lacked the powers to restore the parties to the position they were before the August 9 judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt.

FIRS and the Attorney-General of the Federation were listed as respondents in the appeal.

Lagos State government had last week applied to join as a party in the appeal.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu signed the VAT bill into law last Friday.

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