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Malami blasts Wike, Sanwo-Olu over insistence on VAT collection

The Chief Law Officer of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) says it is the duty of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to collect Value Added Tax (VAT) and not anyone else.

Malami stated this on Wednesday in New York while speaking on the disagreement over the collection of VAT between the FIRS and Rivers State government.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice stated that the collection of VAT in the country remains FIRS job.

He added that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his Lagos counterpart, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have no right to collect VAT in their respective states.

Malami explained that the ruling of the Court of Appeal asked the FIRS and the Rivers Government to maintain status quo on the matter, adding that the judgement favoured FIRS.

He said that it was the FIRS that had been collecting the VAT before the dispute arose, over which the Rivers government approached the High Court.

Malami said: “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.

“And as far as the judicial system is concerned, the status quo as at the time the parties approached the court, it was the Federal Inland Revenue Service that was indeed collecting the Value Added Tax (VAT).

“So with that in mind, the Federal Government has succeeded in obtaining an order that establishes the sustenance of the status quo, which status quo is that the Federal Inland Revenue Service should continue collection.

“This is pending the determination of the cases that were instituted by states, particularly the Rivers State Government and the Lagos State government. The cases are being determined by the court.

“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.

“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 Rivers government had approached the Supreme Court to set aside the Court of Appeal’s ruling ordering it and FIRS to maintain status quo on the issue of VAT collection.

The state also urged the apex court to disband the panel of the appellate court, which gave the interim order and ordered another one to be constituted to hear the case.

A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal had earlier issued the order being challenged at the Supreme Court by the Rivers government.


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