The Court of Appeal, Abuja division yesterday halted the Rivers State Government from collecting Value Added Taxes (VAT) until all legal disputes relating to the matter are resolved. The court also ordered that the judgment of the State High Court from which the state drew authorities to collect the tax must not be implemented. Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami who issued the order also directed that the law passed by Rivers State House of Assembly and assented to by Governor Nyesom Wike must not be implemented.
The appellate court further held that since parties have submitted themselves to the authorities of the court for adjudication of the matter, they must not do anything that will destroy the subject matter of the appeal. In specific term, Justice Tsanami granted status quo ante bellum in favour of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and against the respondents. Earlier, Counsel to the appellant/ applicant, Mahmud Magaji SAN, made an oral application for an order that status quo be maintained pending the hearing and determination of the motion for injunction and stay. However, Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, counsel to Rivers government, and Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, counsel to Lagos State government, both opposed the application for status quo. Tijani Ghazali SAN, who represented the Attorney-General on his part, supported the application for status quo to be maintained.
The applicants have been given two days to file their written addresses in respect to the pending applications just as the respondents have also been given two days to file, and the applicant has one day to reply on points of law. The matter was later adjourned till September 16. FIRS, in an appeal marked CA/PH/282/2021, is praying the court to set aside the judgment of a Rivers State High Court which granted power to the state to collect Value Added Tax, VAT. The tax collection agency is also asking the appellate court to stay the execution of Rivers’ judgement.