VAT: Lagos supports Rivers, applies to join in FIRS appeal

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The Lagos State Government has declared its support for the Rivers State government on the legal battle with Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and subsequently applied on Friday to be joined as a co-respondent in the suit filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, challenging the judgement of the Rivers State High Court, which declared that the Rivers State Government had the right to collect Value-Added Tax (VAT) and Personal Income Tax in the state, and not the Federal Inland Revenue Services.

Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyesore Onigbanjo, submitted the request for the state government to be joined as co-respondent in the FIRS suit at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

Lagos State House of Assembly had on Thursday passed a bill empowering the Lagos State government to collect VAT henceforth from businesses in the state.

Onigbanjo notified the appeal court that the state’s interest was at stake, arguing that if Lagos State government is not   joined in the matter, it would amount to a breach of fair hearing.

The commissioner told the appeal court to accept the application for the joinder before considering the FIRS’ application for a Stay of Execution of the judgement of the Rivers State High Court.

Counsel to FIRS, Mahmud Magaji SAN, insisted that  the court should hear the main application (stay of execution request) first, noting that that was of utmost priority.

Justice Haruna Tsammani, leading the three-man panel, stepped down the matter for ruling.

The appeal court, at the resumed session, ruled that the motion of joinder by the Lagos State government be heard.

The court later ordered the applicants and respondents to file their written addresses within two days, and the Lagos State government  was given one day to respond on the point of law.