The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami says the Nigerian government is considering suing the governments of Rivers and Lagos at the Supreme Court to end the Value Added Tax war.
Malami disclosed this in New York, United States while speaking on the disagreement over the collection of VAT between FIRS and Rivers Government.
“But one thing of interest is the fact that the Federal Government had indeed taken cognisance of the fact that where there exists a dispute between a State and Federal Government, it is the Supreme Court that should naturally have the jurisdiction to determine the dispute between the state and the federation.
“And we are taking steps to consider the possibility of instituting an action before the Supreme Court for the purpose of having this matter determined once and for all,’’ Malami said.
The Minister maintained that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) will continue to collect VAT following the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the matter, which directed all parties involved to maintain status quo, NAN reports.
Some interested parties have described the status quo to mean that Rivers and Lagos, who have now passed laws to support the collection of VAT in their domain, should continue with their plan.
But some others have said by status quo, the court means the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), an agency of the Nigerian government that has been collecting VAT across the country, should continue to do so.
“The position of not only the Federal Government but indeed the judiciary is the fact that status quo associated with the collecting of VAT should be maintained,” Malami said.
“And as far as the judicial system is concerned, the status quo as at the time the parties approached the court, it was the Federal Inland Revenue Service that was indeed collecting the value added tax.
“So with that in mind, the Federal Government has succeeded in obtaining an order that establishes the sustenance of the status quo, which status quo is that the Federal Inland Revenue Service should continue collection.
“This is pending the determination of the cases that were instituted by states, particularly the Rivers State Government and the Lagos State government. The cases are being determined by the court.”
The Rivers government had urged the Supreme Court to set aside the Court of Appeal’s September 10 ruling ordering it and FIRS to maintain status quo on the issue of VAT collection.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal headed by Haruna Tsammani, issued the order being challenged at the Supreme Court by the Rivers government.
The state also urged the apex court to disband the panel of the appelate court, which gave the interim order and ordered another one to be constituted to hear the case.