The Court of Appeal on Thursday turned down Rivers and Lagos States’ request for the appointment of a Receiver or Manager to collect and hold Value Added Taxes (VAT) instead of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) pending the settlement of all legal problems in the case.
The two states separately requested that the status quo ante belum order granted on September 10 in favour of FIRS to continue the collection be placed on hold due to an appeal filed against the order with the Supreme Court.
In his oral application, counsel for Rivers State Chief Ifedayo Adedipe SAN urged the appellate to use its power under Order 4 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal to appoint a Receiver or Manager to take custody of the VAT in the interest of justice for all parties involved.
Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN, the Attorney General of Lagos, who represented his state, followed Rivers’ lead in urging the court to be fair and just in the pending appeal.
Onigbanjo expressly requested that the Appeal Court stop FIRS from collecting the tax and instead appoint a Receiver or Manager to represent the parties involved in the legal struggle.
Despite the legal wrangling, the Lagos Attorney General based his expressed worry of unequal treatment on the fact that FIRS, in addition to collecting the tax, has been dividing it among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory FCT.
The presiding justice, Hamma Simon Tsunami, however, requested that the two states formalize their request by submitting it in writing.
Meanwhile, the court has deferred a decision on Lagos’ request to be added as a respondent in FIRS’ appeal of a federal high court in Port Harcourt’s decision in favour of Rivers State.
Onigbanjo, who applied, stated that Lagos has a vested interest in the collection of Value Added Taxes and that the court’s judgment would have an impact on it.
The Attorney General told the three-judge panel that FIRS had made some charges against it in its appeal against the federal high court verdict and that it would be in the best interests of justice if it could join the appeal to air its defence.
The appellant, FIRS, through its counsel, Mahmoud Magaji, SAN, objected to Lagos’ request to join the case, claiming that the state had not demonstrated how its interests would be jeopardized if it was not allowed to participate.
The Attorney General of the Federation, AGF Abubakar Malami SAN, filed processes through his lawyer, Tijani Gazali SAN, which were dismissed as incompetent and filed late.
After hearing the parties’ arguments, Justice Tsanami reserved his decision, saying that parties will be notified when the decision was available.