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Wike orders VAT laws implementation, enforcement across Rivers

By Idowu Abdullahi

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom WIke, has directed the Rivers State Revenue Service (RSRS) to begin the full, total implementation and enforcement of Rivers State Value Added Tax Law 2021 against all corporate bodies, business entities and individuals with immediate effect.

He said that the directive was in line with recent judgement of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, which upheld the constitutional right and authority of State Governments to impose, collect and utilize value added taxes (VAT) within their respective territorial jurisdictions.

“All corporate bodies, business entities and individuals are advised to willingly, truthfully and promptly comply with their tax obligations under this law to avoid the full weight of the stipulated sanctions, including having their business premises sealed-up.

“Let me warn that the Rivers State Government is fully in charge of the State and will not tolerate any further attempt by the FIRS to sabotage or undermine our authority to freely administer our tax and other related laws in our own State. Those who play with fire risks having their fingers burnt. Enough of the shenanigans.

“I wish to further assure every resident that we shall as usual make effective use of the expected proceeds from this tax to accelerate the development of our State and improve the wellbeing of everyone,” Wike said during a statewide broadcast on Monday in spite of the opposition by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) which already filed an appeal against the judgment, and some northern states governors clamoring for continuation of former arrangement.

He said that though the Federal Government, through FIRS, disagreed and filed an appeal coupled with a request for stay-of-execution of the judgment before the Federal High Court, his administration would implement and enforce the law following alleged unconstitutional moves by the federal revenue agency and accompanied dismissal of the appeal by the court.

“While the appeal was pending and without any stay-of-execution of the subsisting judgement, the FIRS went about to bully corporate bodies and business entities from paying the VAT to the Rivers State Government even when they knew that an appeal does not serve as a stay neither was there anything to stay in a declaratory judgement.

“As a mere agency of the Federal Government without any political authority the effrontery and impunity exhibited by the FIRS against the Rivers State Government was ill-advised and highly provocative. However, being a government that believes in the rule of law we decided on our own to suspend the enforcement of the Rivers State VAT Law 2021 pending the outcome of the FIRS’s application for stay-of-execution.

“Today, the FIRS has failed in its attempt to frustrate the enforcement of the State’s Law on VAT with the Federal High Court’s dismissal of its application for stay-of-execution of the judgement,” he said.

The governor, however, assured Rivers residents on his administration’s commitment to make effective use of the expected proceeds from the tax to accelerate the development of Rivers and improve the wellbeing of everyone.

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