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VAT Collection: Nigeria’s Supreme Court To Deliver Judgment May 6

Nigeria’s Supreme Court on Monday fixed May 6 for judgment in the suit filed by the Rivers Government challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal that ordered it to maintain the status quo on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).

The Rivers government in its 10 grounds of appeal, is equally praying the apex court to order that the substantive appeal by the FIRS marked CA/PH/282/2021, and all other processes therein, be heard and determined by a new panel of the Court of Appeal.

It maintained that the three-man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, had in the ruling they delivered, erred in law when they relied on the provisions of Section 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution and the inherent jurisdiction of the appellate court, to order all the parties to maintain status quo on the VAT dispute.

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola who led a six-member panel of justices, fixed the date after the counsel to all the parties adopted their briefs.

The Rivers Government, through its Attorney-General, had gone to the apex court to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal that ordered it to maintain status quo on the collection of Value Added Tax, (VAT), pending the determination of an appeal that was lodged by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS).

It maintained that the Tsammani-led panel, had in the ruling erred in law when they relied on the provisions of Section 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution and the inherent jurisdiction of the appellate court, to order all the parties to maintain status quo on the VAT dispute.

That the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal In relying on the inherent jurisdiction of the court to make the order on the subject matter of this Appeal, failed to appreciate that the inherent jurisdiction of the court cannot be applied in contravention of statutory provisions.

That the Court of Appeal failed to appreciate the nature of inherent jurisdiction and that it cannot be invoked to circumvent the clear provisions of the statute as it was done with regards to Order 6 Rule 1 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016 in this case.

It argued that the appellate court panel failed to take into account a decision of the Supreme Court in SHUGABA V. UNION BANK [1999],11 NWLR (pt. 627), page 459, to the effect “that no court has an inherent jurisdiction (except in extreme circumstances) to set aside the exercise of discretion of another court with regards to order made in respect of an application for stay of execution.

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