VAT dispute: Appeal Court grants Lagos request, Oyo follows

The Court of Appeal, Abuja division, has granted the application of the Lagos state government as a co-respondent in the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The court rejected the objections by the FIRS and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and proceeded to join the Attorney General of Lagos State as the third respondent.

The FIRS is challenging the judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, which restrained the agency from collecting VAT and personal income tax (PIT) in Rivers state.

On September 10, the Attorney-general of Lagos, Moyosore Onigbanjo, applied to be joined as a party in the appeal. The state had also passed a VAT bill into law.

Onigbanjo had submitted that the outcome of the appeal would have a direct impact on the state.

“My lord, it is not in dispute that Lagos, one of the federating states in Nigeria, is entitled to collect VAT and that’s our interest,” he said.

“Even the appellant recognised that the Lagos state government has an interest in the matter in their affidavits in support of stay of execution where copious reference was made to the Lagos state government.”

Delivering ruling on Thursday, Haruna Tsammani, presiding judge, held that Lagos state has been able to prove that it has a direct interest in the subject matter of this appeal.

Meanwhile, Oyo state too has filed a joinder application before the court of appeal.

In a fresh application filed on September 27, Oyo state government is also seeking “an order of the honourable court joining the attorney-general of Oyo state as a respondent on the appeal with suit number FHC/PH/CS/149/2020 and appeal number CA/PH/282/2021, and any other order the court may deem fit.”

The state attorney-general submitted that Oyo state was “unaware of the suit between the attorney-general of Rivers state and the Federal Inland Revenue Service at the federal high court until the judgement was delivered.”

“The applicant has an interest in the subject matter of the appeal. This application will avoid a multiplicity of suits by States in respect of the appropriate party for the purpose of collection of the Tax.

No date has been fixed to hear the application.

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