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Court stops Lagos, Rivers Govts from VAT collection

By Idowu Abdullahi

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, has ordered both Rivers and Lagos States to maintain status quo on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) pending the determination of an appeal filed before it by the Federal Government through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

With the new judgement, both state governments had been stopped from taking action that would give effect to the judgement of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that allowed the Rivers State government to collect Value Added Tax (VAT) as against FIRS collection.

The Justice Haruna Tsammani-led three-man panel of the appellate court gave the order on Friday while ruling on an appeal filed by the FIRS over the earlier judgment of Federal High Court in Port Harcourt. The panel said that the order was to preserve the ‘Res’ (subject matter) of the appeal before the appellate court.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State government applied to be joined as a co-respondent to the suit filed by the FIRS at the appeal court. The state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyesore Onigbanjo, represented the state government at Friday’s hearing.

During his argument, the commissioner prayed the court take the application for the joinder first before the application for the stay of execution filed by the FIRS, adding that failure to accede Lagos request would amount to a breach of a fair hearing.

But the FIRS counsel, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), urged the court to hear the main application first, as it was of utmost priority.

The appellate court, in its ruling, held that the motion of joinder by the Lagos State government be heard and gave the applicants two days to file their written addresses.

Similarly, the respondents have been given two days to file their response, while the applicants were given a day to reply on the point of law.

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