VAT: Court orders Rivers, FIRS to maintain status quo

FIRS Chairman Muhammad Nami

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has ordered all parties to maintain the status quo and refrain 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), pending the hearing and determination of the instant suit.

Justice Haruna Tsammani, leading a three-man panel, gave the order on Friday while ruling on an appeal filed by the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS), an agency overseen by Muhammad Nami.

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike had on August 19 signed the value added tax bill into law to allow the state government collect VAT instead of the FIRS on behalf of the Federal Government.

The order forced the FIRS to file a motion on notice for a stay of execution at the Appellate Court after Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt ruled in the state government’s favour.

Meanwhile, Lagos State Government has applied to be joined as a co-respondent to the suit filed by the FIRS at the appeal court, a request opposed by the FIRS.

Attorney general of the state and commissioner of justice Moyesore Onigbanjo represented Lagos State Government at Friday’s hearing.

The appellate court ruled 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 court gave the respondents two days to file their response, while the applicants were given a day to reply on the point of law.