Rivers Drags FG to Supreme Court Over VAT Revenue

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… Seeks disbandment of A’Court panel that ordered maintenance of status quo

Rivers State Government, through its Attorney-General, has gone to the Supreme Court praying it set-aside the decision of the Court of Appeal that ordered it, River State to maintain status quo on the collection of Value Added Tax, VAT, pending the determination of an appeal lodged by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS.

The State, in its nine grounds of appeal, is equally praying 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.

It maintained that the three-man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, had in the ruling they delivered last Friday, erred in law when they relied 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.

It argued that the Court of Appeal lacked the powers to restore the parties to the position they were before the judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt in suit No. FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, which was delivered on August 9, 2021.

It argued that the appellate court panel failed 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 application for stay of execution.”

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

Rivers State contended that the appellate court, by proceeding “to make far-reaching decision,” based on the oral application by FIRS, denied it fair hearing.

Consequently, it prayed the apex court to allow the appeal, set aside the decision of the court of appeal on maintenance of status quo, and further dismiss the oral application that was made by the FIRS.

FIRS and Attorney-General of the Federation are respondents in the appeal that Rivers State entered through its team of lawyers led by Emmanuel Ukala, SAN.

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