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VAT collection: Supreme Court to deliver judgment May 6

The Supreme Court on Monday fixed May 6 for judgement on a lawsuit centered on collection of Value Added Tax (VAT), which was filed by Rivers state government.

The Rivers Government approached the Supreme Court after being ordered by a Court of Appeal to maintain the status quo on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).

The state government in its 10 grounds of appeal, 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 Court of Appeal.

Rivers state government which asked the supreme court to declare that Tsammani-led panel erred in its judgement by relying 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 VAT dispute, noted that the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal in relying on the inherent jurisdiction of the court to make the order on the subject matter of this Appeal, failed to appreciate that the inherent jurisdiction of the court cannot be applied in contravention of statutory provisions.

The appellate court panel was also accused of failing to take into account a decision of the Supreme Court in SHUGABA V. UNION BANK [1999],11 NWLR (pt. 627), page 459, to the effect “that no court has an inherent jurisdiction (except in extreme circumstances) to set aside the exercise of discretion of another court with regards to order made in respect of an application for stay of execution.

The state also argued that the Court of Appeal panel erred in law when they wrongly assumed jurisdiction to entertain on the oral application that counsel of the FIRS made for the maintenance of status quo by parties in the dispute, in spite of the fact that condition precedent for the invocation of the inherent jurisdiction of the appellate court was not fulfilled by the 1st Respondent (FIRS).

Insisting that the court of appeal’s decision “to make a far-reaching decision” based on the oral application by FIRS, denied it a fair hearing, the state government prayed the apex court to allow the appeal, set aside the decision of the court of appeal on maintenance of the status quo, and further dismiss the oral application that was made by the FIRS.

It also pointed out that relying on the oral application to order the maintenance of status quo, which effectively operated as a stay of execution and as an injunction against the declaratory orders of the Federal High Court, occasioned a miscarriage of justice, to its prejudice.

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