President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime is considering suing the governments of Rivers and Lagos at the Supreme Court to end the VAT war “once and for all,” says Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s attorney general of the federation.
“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,” Mr Malami argued. “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.”
The justice minister stated this in New York while speaking on the disagreement over VAT collection between FIRS, Rivers, and Lagos.
Mr Malami explained that the ruling of the Court of Appeal that FIRS and the Rivers government maintain status quo favoured FIRS.
“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,” Mr Malami said. “And as far as the judicial system is concerned, the status quo as of the time the parties approached the court, it was the Federal Inland Revenue Service that was indeed collecting the value-added tax.”
He admitted that “this is pending the determination of the cases” instituted by states, particularly the Rivers and Lagos governments.
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 the status quo on VAT collection.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal headed by Haruna Tsammani issued the order now challenged at the apex court.
The state also urged the apex court to disband the appellate court panel, which gave the interim order, replacing it with another one to hear the case.