The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has reserved judgement in the relief sought by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) to restrain the Rivers State Government from enforcing the judgement it got over the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) in the State.
The FIRS lead lawyer, Mr. Reuben Wanogho, in a motion on notice told the court that his client had filed an appeal against the judgment of the court delivered on 9th August, 2021 which declared that it is the Rivers State government and not FIRS, that is constitutionally empowered to collect VAT in the State.
Based on this, the FIRS urged the court for a stay of execution of the judgment against it.
It will be recalled that the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt presided by Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam had on 9th August, declared that the collection of VAT by FIRS in Rivers State illegal.
After listening to the argument canvassed by both the lead lawyer to the Rivers State government, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) and FIRS’ lawyer, Reuben Wanogho, the presiding judge, Justice Pam said the date for ruling on the matter will be communicated to the parties.
Speaking to journalists after the court had reserved its ruling, a member of the Rivers State legal team, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) said FIRS did not want enforcement of the judgment that declared Rivers State Government is constitutionally empowered to collect VAT in the State.
According to him, “The argument as usual is that they are on appeal and therefore the valid judgment of this court should not be obeyed and we find that a bit curious.”
Adedipe explained that having canvassed argument in opposition to FIRS position, the crux of the issue is that the law does not permit a vacuum. According to him, the Rivers State House of Assembly had already passed the Value Added Tax Bill of Rivers State into law and the same had been duly assented to by the Governor of the State.
He stated that the Valued Added Tax of Rivers State law has come into operation because, in his words: “You cannot have a situation where the court having declared that the FIRS cannot collect VAT in Rivers State, the State itself cannot collect same thing.
Special Assistant (Media) Rivers State Governor
August 20, 2021