As more reactions trail the controversy over the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT), the Federal Government has moved to find a permanent resolution to the disputes.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, who disclosed this on Wednesday in New York, said the government was considering taking an action at the Supreme Court.
“The Federal Government had indeed taken cognisance of the fact that where there exists a dispute between a state and the Federal Government, it is the Supreme Court that should naturally have the jurisdiction to determine the dispute between the state and the federation,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in the United States.
“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.”
In a ruling delivered in August, Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt granted the Rivers State government the right to collect VAT, instead of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), paving the way for Governor Nyesom Wike to assent to the VAT Law, 2021.
But the FIRS, which was displeased with the development, filed a motion on notice to apply for a stay of execution on the earlier judgement delivered by Justice Pam.
Justice Pam, however, refused the application on the ground that the federal agency failed to file an application to set aside the tax law recently enacted by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
While he stated that the state law on VAT was valid and subsisting, Governor Wike directed the state’s revenue agency to fully implement the VAT law.
The FIRS later approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja with a civil motion seeking a stay of the execution of the judgement granted by the court in Rivers, pending the determination of the case.
A three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Haruna Tsammani then directed all parties to maintain the status quo and refrain from taking action that would give effect to the judgement delivered by Justice Pam, pending the hearing and determination of the instant suit.
In its reaction, the Rivers State government filed an appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the appellate court.
It sought relief of the apex court to allow the appeal, set aside the decision of the appeal court, and dismiss the oral application for interim injection made by the FIRS.