Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Wednesday, threatened to “take over” all offices of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in the oil-rich South-South state if the government agency continues with its “bullying.”
The governor spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt, the state capital, while addressing business owners in the state.
The governor told the oil firms, construction companies and other business owners operating in the state to start remitting their Value Added Tax to the state government beginning this September.
The Punch had earlier reported that the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt in its judgment last month in a suit marked FHC/PH/CS/149/2020 held that the Rivers State Government had the powers to collect VAT within its territory.
The FIRS, on Monday, prayed the court to stay execution on the judgment.
But the presiding judge, Justice Stephem Pam, rejected the application, saying granting it would negate the principle of equity.
On Monday, the Lagos State Government toed the path of Rivers State as a bill to empower it to collect VAT scaled second reading in the state House of Assembly.
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered. It is charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Speaking at the stakeholders’ meeting on Wednesday televised live on Channels TV and two other stations, Wike lamented about the injustice in the country saying Rivers generated N15billion in June 2021 but got N4.7billion while “Kano produced N2.8billion in June but Kano also got N2.8bn. Sometimes you don’t want to believe these things exist.”
The governor said he cannot continue to beg the Federal Government for what belongs to his state.
He warned the FIRS to desist from “bullying” the state with federal might.
“I overhead the FIRS chairman saying that he will show me the powers of the Federal Government that the Federal Government will muzzle the judiciary. It is not my business. The court has decided,” the governor said.
“All these bullying (by) FIRS; they should mind the state they are bullying. FIRS should be very careful. You don’t bully a state like us…I have the political will to do a lot of things. I am not one of those governors that will shy away. If they continue to bully us, all their offices in the state, I will take,” he stated.
“I will seal off your premises if you continue paying VAT to FIRS’
The governor also warned the oil companies and business owners not to remit their VAT to FIRS but the Rivers State Government.
“From this September, we will start collecting our VAT,” Wike said, warning that his government “will not look back but seal up the premises of companies” who fail to comply with the new directive.
The governor also noted that the state does not need the Nigeria Police Force to enforce the collection of VAT but would use the state-created security outfit backed by the law.