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VAT, Related Taxes Are Rivers Govt Entitlement Not FIRS – Court Declares

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VAT, Related Taxes Are Rivers Govt Entitlement Not FIRS – Court Declares

The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has declared that it is the Rivers State Government and not the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), that should collect Valued Added Tax (VAT) and Personal Income Tax (PIT) in the State.

The court, presided over by Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam, has also issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Attorney General of the federation, both first and second defendants in the suit, from collecting, demanding, threatening and intimidating residents of Rivers State to pay to FIRS, personnel income tax and Value Added Tax.

Justice Pam made the assertion while delivering judgement in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, filed by the Attorney General for Rivers State (plaintiff), against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (first defendant) and the Attorney General of the Federation (second defendant).

The Court, which granted all the eleven reliefs sought by the Rivers State Government, stated that there is no constitutional basis for the FIRS to demand for and collect VAT, Withholding Tax, Education Tax and Technology levy in Rivers State or any other State of the Federation, being that the constitutional powers and competence of the Federal Government is limited to taxation of incomes, profits and capital gains which does not include VAT or any other species of sales, or levy other than those specifically mentioned in items 58 and 59 of the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution.

The judge dismissed the preliminary objections filed by the defendants that the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the suit and that the case should be transferred to Court of Appeal for interpretation.

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Justice Pam, who also dismissed objection raised by the defendants that the National Assembly ought to have been made a party in the suit, declared that the issues of taxes raised by the State government are issues of law that the court is constitutionally empowered to entertain.

He declared that after a diligent review of the issues raised by both the plaintiff and the defendants, the plaintiff has proven beyond doubt that it is entitled to all the eleven reliefs it sought in the suit.

The court agreed with the Rivers State Government that it is the State and not FIRS that is constitutionally entitled to impose taxes enforceable or collectable in its territory of the nature of consumption or sales tax, VAT, education and other taxes or levies, other than the taxes and duties specifically reserved for the Federal Government by items 58 and 59 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 constitution as amended.

VAT, Related Taxes Are Rivers Govt Entitlement Not FIRS – Court Declares

Also, the court declared that the defendants are not constitutionally entitled to charge or impose levies, charges or rates (under any guise or by whatever name called) on the residents of Rivers State and indeed any state of the federation.

Among the reliefs sought by the Rivers State Government, is a declaration that the constitutional power of the Federal Government to impose taxes and duties is only limited to the items listed in items 58 and 59 of Part 1 of the second schedule of the 1999 constitution as amended.

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The Rivers State Government had also urged the court to declare that, by virtue of the provisions of items 7 and 8 of the Part II (Concurrent Legislative List) of the Second Schedule of the constitution, the power of the Federal Government to delegate the collection of taxes can only be exercised by the State government or other authority of the State and no other person.

The State government had further asked the court to declare that all statutory provisions made or purportedly made in the exercise of the legislative powers of the Federal Government, which contains provisions which are inconsistent with or in excess of the powers to impose tax and duties, as prescribed by items 58 and 59 of the Part I of the Second Schedule of the 1999 constitution, or inconsistent of the power to delegate the duty of collection of taxes, as contained in items 7 and 8 of Part II of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, are unconstitutional, null and void.

Lead counsel for the Rivers State Government, Donald Chika Denwigwe (SAN), who spoke to journalists after the court session, explained that the case is all about the interpretation of the constitution as regards the authority of the government at the State and Federal levels to collect certain revenue particularly, VAT.

“So, during the determination of the matter, some issues of law were thrown up like, whether or not the case should be referred to the Court of Appeal for the determination of some issues.

“The court noted that the application is like asking the Federal High Court to transfer the entire case to the Court of Appeal. In which case, if the court so decides there will be nothing left to refer back to the Federal High Court as required by the constitution.”

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According to Denwigwe, the court refused that prayer and decided that the case was in its proper place before the Federal High Court and to determine it.

Donald Chika Denwigwe, SAN (middle) lead counsel to Government of Rivers State and Ken C.O. Njemanze, SAN (left) briefing journalists after the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt on Monday declared FIRS collection of Value Added Tax in Rivers State unconstitutional.

Speaking on the implication of the judgement, Denwigwe said it is now, unlawful for such taxes as VAT in Rivers State to be collected by any agency of the Federal Government.

“In a summary, it is a determination that it is wrong for the Federal government to be collecting taxes which are constitutionally reserved for the State governments to collect. The implication of the judgement is that the government (Federal and State) as an authority under the constitution, should be advised by the judgement that it is the duty of all government authorities to comply with and obey the law so long as the court has interpreted it and said what that law is.

“So, in other words, the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the territory of Rivers State and Personal Income Tax should be reserved for the government of Rivers State.”

Counsel to FIRS, O.C. Eyibo said he will study the judgment and advise his client.

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Bauchi C J Grants 11 Inmates Freedom in Bauchi, Cautions Sharia Judges on Sentencing Suspects of Minor Offenses

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Bauchi C J Grants 11 Inmates Freedom in Bauchi, Cautions Sharia Judges on Sentencing Suspects of Minor Offenses
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Bauchi C J Grants 11 Inmates Freedom in Bauchi, Cautions Sharia Judges on Sentencing Suspects of Minor Offenses

By Bashir Hassan Abubakar

Bauchi State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Rabi T.Umar had in her third quarter visit to Custodial Centres in the State, released a total number of eleven inmates(11) from Custodial Centres in Bauchi State Command.

A press statement signed and issued Wednesday evening by the public relations officer of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Bauchi State Command, SC Adam Abubakar Jibrin said during the jail delivery exercise, the Chief judge, along side members of the Administration of criminal Justice committee, comprising of the Nigerian Police, the Director Public Prosecution(DPP) from Ministry of Justice, the Nigerian Bar Association Bauchi Chapter and the Controller of Corrections, toured Misau, Zaki,Gamawa and Azare Custodial Centres respectively.

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Others centres visited include Jama’are, Ningi and Bauchi Custodial Centres, where the CJ reviewed cases of awaiting trial inmates presented to her and released deserving ones.

While addressing the released inmates, the Chief Judge admonished them to be law abiding citizens and shun crime. The Chief judge also took time to address inmates with terrorism-related charges who have been languishing in custody for a long time without trial.

She assured them that government and relevant agencies are doing everything possible to address their problems, urging them to remain calm and exercise more patience.

Also addressing Sharia Court judges, the Chief Judge urged them to refrain from sentencing all manners of suspects into custody especially those with minor offences because, according to her, that brings about congestion in Custodial Centres.

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In his remarks, Controller of Corrections Bauchi State Command, CCS Kabir Abba Galadanci Commended the Chief Judge and the State government for making the visit to Custodial Centres possible.

He said the visit will go along way in decongesting the Centres and further give hope to the inmates.

Some freed inmates

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Lai Mohammed unhappy media is underreporting military success against bandits

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Lai Mohammed unhappy media is underreporting military success against bandits
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Lai Mohammed unhappy media is underreporting military success against bandits

Lai Mohammed says the military has already drastically reduced banditry.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has called on the media to give more attention to the military’s offensive against bandits in the northwest region.

Military operations against them have been stepped up in recent weeks, with the government shutting down telecommunications services in many parts of Zamfara, Katsina, and Sokoto to cut off the bandits’ information flow.

Mohammed said during a meeting with the Katsina State government on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 that the strategy is working, and has already drastically reduced banditry.

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Lai Mohammed unhappy media is underreporting military success against bandits

The minister however lamented that the government’s positive efforts have not received the kind of media attention given to the bandits.

“There is no doubt that the table is turning against the bandits, since Katsina and other affected states came up with a number of novel measures that got the bandits boxed in, and the military stepped up its kinetic approach,” he said.

The 69-year-old said the government’s success ‘should be trumpeted’ so as to encourage more states to adopt similar measures, and boost the morale of security agencies.

He said the government is very worried about the wave of violence in the northwest region, and expressed confidence the military will soon put an end to it.

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Reps to investigate exclusion of Rivers from World Bank loan benefits

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Reps to investigate exclusion of Rivers from World Bank loan benefits
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Reps to investigate exclusion of Rivers from World Bank loan benefits

House of Representatives on Wednesday called for investigation into the alleged exclusion of Rivers from projects to be financed by a fresh World Bank loan.

Solomon Bob (PDP-Rivers) had alleged in the house that Rivers is the only state that would not benefit from the loans.

He stated that the report, if true, rendered the Federal Government’s action as contrary to the spirit and letters of the 1999 Constitution.

He added that it would be discriminatory against the people of Rivers and capable of creating a sense of alienation, exclusion and discontent.

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Bob added that the house had a responsibility to ensure that the affairs of the federation were conducted in accordance with the Constitution and the law of equity and fairness.

This, he said, should be followed with an overriding responsibility to deploy its Constitutional powers to ensure compliance on the part of the Executive.

He added that Nigeria is a federation that professes equity, fairness and social justice and that there were several constitutional provisions prohibiting all forms of discrimination on the basis of partisan leaning, religion, place of origin or tribe.

Reps to investigate exclusion of Rivers from World Bank loan benefits

He said that some sections of the Constitution imposed a duty on the Federal Government to ensure equitable distribution of resources and projects across the federation.

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The consequently mandated its Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management to liaise with the office of the Adviser on National Assembly Matters to the President to ascertain the veracity of the allegation.

It also mandated the committee to revert in 14 days for further legislative action.

The house noted that if other states were listed, Rivers should be included to benefit from the projects to be executed with the fresh loan.

(NAN)

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