The Court of Appeal in Abuja has halted the Rivers State government from collecting Value Added Taxes VAT until all legal disputes relating to the matter are resolved.
The court ordered that the judgment of the state high court from which the state drew authorities to collect the tax be implemented.
Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami who issued the order in Abuja on Friday also directed that the law passed by Rivers State House of Assembly and assented to by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike must not be implemented.
The appellate court held that since parties have submitted themselves to the authorities of the court for adjudication of the matter, they must not do anything that will destroy the subject matter of the appeal.
In specific terms, Justice Tsanami granted status quo ante in favour of the Federal Inland Revenue Services FIRS and against the respondents.
The matter has been slated for September 16 for a hearing of the motion for joinder by Lagos State.
FIRS, in an appeal marked CA/PH/282/2021, is praying the court to set aside the judgment of a Rivers State High Court which granted powers to the state to collect Value Added Tax, VAT.
The tax collection agency is also asking the appellate court to stay the execution of Rivers’ judgment.
The Lagos State government has applied to be joined as a co-respondent to the suit filed by the FIRS at the appeal court.
The Attorney General of the State and Commissioner of Justice, Moyesore Onigbanjo, represented the state government at Friday’s hearing.
He informed the court that the interest of the state was at stake, stressing that if they were not joined, it would amount to a breach of a fair hearing.
Onigbanjo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), urged the court to take the application for the joinder first before the application for the stay of execution filed by the FIRS.
But counsel to the federal agency, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), urged the court to hear the main application first, as it was of utmost priority.
The appellate court, in its ruling, held that the motion of joinder by the Lagos State government be heard and gave the applicants two days to file their written addresses.
Similarly, the respondents have been given two days to file their response, while the applicants were given a day to reply on the point of law.