JS Okutepa SAN has condemned in strong terms the refusal of Nassaraw State Government and its Internal Revenue Services Board’s refusal to obey an Order of a Lafia Federal High Court.
In his words; “The impunity of Nasarawa State Government and its Board of Internal Revenue Services is terribly unbecoming and we must rise to condemn this ugly trend.”
The Learned silk alleged that the below order was made on 21st February 2018 by Hon. Justice P. H. Mallong.
- THAT once a matter is before the court, parties must refrain from doing anything that will over reach the court with regards to the live issues for determination.
- THAT it is hereby ordered that the premises of the Plaintiff be unseal and status quo antebellum be maintained pending the hearing and determination of this suit.
- THAT this matter is adjourned to 14th day of March, 2018 for hearing of any pending application.
Giving details of the incident which necessitated the order of court, Okutepa SAN said;
“This order was served on all the parties concerned personally on the same day including the Hon Attorney General of Nasarawa State and the Chairman of Nasarawa State Internal Revenue Services. The said Chairman boasted in the presence of my colleagues and bailiffs of court that he will not obey the order. The order was made in the presence of their lawyer Mr Felix V Dza, an Assistant Director from the Nasarawa State Ministry of Justice.
The sealing of branch offices of Keystone Bank Ltd was done while this suit was pending. Keystone Bank Ltd filed this suit on 29th January 2018 against the Attorney General of Nasarawa State and 3 others challenging the threats to distrain and seal its branches in Nasarawa State under S.104 of Personal Income Tax Act as amended.
The processes including motion for interlocutory injunction were served on the defendants in the case. On the 4th of February 2018 the Solicitor General of Nasarawa State entered
appearance for all the defendants in the case. On the 5th February 2018 when the matter came before the Federal High Court Lafia, the learned trial judge directed that no steps be taken that will undermine the pending processes before him. He then adjourned the case to 21st February 2018 for hearing of pending processes. On 21st of February 2018 the Nasarawa State Government and its agency Nasarawa State Internal Revenue Services proceeded to distrained and sealed off all the branches of Keystone Bank Ltd in Nasarawa State despite the pending case seeking to stop them from doing so.
A court of law has ordered that the Bank be unsealed and the Nasarawa State Government has refused to obey this order. What a lawless country are we that people no longer respect court and court orders. The chairman of the Nasarawa State Internal Revenue Services has boasted that he is not obeying the order and the state govt is condoning this conduct in a democratic setting. Where are we heading to in this country that those who sworn to up holding and defending the constitution are the very one desecrating and abusing it. It is sad that impunity is reigning supreme in Nigeria. It is sad that the office of Attorney General is also impari delicto in this impunity. We cannot give up. Nigeria must return to part of rule of law and due process.