Indications emerged over the weekend that Adamawa, Kaduna and Plateau states had moved to align with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in its appeal against the judgement of a Federal High Court, which barred the agency from collecting Value Added Tax (VAT) in Rivers State. The move came few days after the Court of Appeal joined Lagos State as a respondent in the appeal.

Justice Stephen Pam, of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had in the judgement delivered in August held that the right to collect VAT belonged to the state and not the federal agency.

The judge, having so held, restrained the service from further collection of VAT in Rivers State and ordered the Rivers State government to assume the duty of VAT collection in Rivers State.

Consequently, FIRS proceeded to the Court of Appeal for a reversal of the Federal High Court judgement.
However, hearing in the appeal was delayed due to an application by Lagos State to be joined as a party to the suit.

But when the case will resume this week, Adamawa, Kaduna and Plateau may likely come up with their individual applications seeking to be joined as parties in the suit.

A reliable source close to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and governors of the three states, in Abuja, yesterday confirm that they would be filing a leave of the court to be joined in the suit on Tuesday.

Although the AGF was already a defendant in the appeal, the source hinted that the Federal Ministry of Justice under the AGF had opted to be part of the appellant in the matter so as to enable it argue effectively in support of the FIRS.

The source said, “They are going to seek to be joined in the suit as co-appellants against the Federal High Court’s judgement that favours Rivers State.

“These states understand the possible consequences if the final judgrment at the Supreme Court goes against the FIRS. They are going to take the fight as if it is theirs.

“In fact, their motion papers would be ready by October 4, and will be filed on Tuesday October 5. I can confirm that one to you.”
The source also hinted that more states, including Kogi and Zamfara, were going to join the suit to form a coalition with the FIRS.

THISDAY LIVE