The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, will on May 9, 2022 resume hearing on the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service against the ruling of a Federal High Court that the Rivers State Government, and not the FIRS, should collect Value Added Tax and Personal Income Tax in the state.
Following FIRS’ appeal, the appellate court had on September 10 asked all parties to the suit to maintain status quo. The Lagos State Government, through its Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, had applied to be joined as a respondent in the appeal. The presiding judge, Justice Haruna Tsammani, granted the appeal, noting that Lagos state was able to prove that it had a direct interest in the subject matter of the appeal.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja at its last sitting on September 30 referred the matter to the Port Harcourt division of the court for continuation of hearing.
The VAT issue had generated heated arguments across the country, with some persons arguing that FIRS should continue to collect VAT while some said states should be allowed to collect it. There have also been concerns over the prolonged delay in continuing the matter. The North states governor opposed states collecting VAT while governors in the South expressed support for states collecting VAT, one of the major sources of revenue for the government.
Findings by our correspondent however revealed that the matter would resume on May 9. A senior official at the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt confirmed this to our correspondent on Wednesday. It was gathered that the respective parties were asked to submit their written applications to the court ahead of the sitting.
The Rivers State Government had approached the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling by the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal that parties, including FIRS and Rivers and Lagos states should maintain status quo. The Supreme Court is expected to give its verdict on the matter on May 27, 2022.
Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had on August 10, 2021 restrained the FIRS from collecting VAT and the Personal Income Tax in the state.
The FIRS had applied for a stay of execution, a request that was denied by the court, saying it would amount to the court sitting in appeal over its own ruling.
Meanwhile, the Oyo State Government has also applied to be joined as a respondent in the appeal filed by the FIRS.