Appeal Court’s statusquo means that Rivers State can continue to collect VAT – Ozekhome


Seasoned lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, has interpreted the order of the Appeal Court on the battle between Rivers State Government and the Federal Inland Revenue Service in favour of the state.

The FIRS had bapproached the court, praying it upturn a River Stat High Court rule that Rivers State has the right to collect VAT in the state.

Then the appelate court ordered both partise to maintain statusquo ante bellun.

Explaining the order in a statement Ozekhome said the statusquo was the one the High Court had given Rivers.

He said, “Clearly, the status quo ante bellum was before the breakout of the hostilities.

“The hostilities broke out when the FIRS dragged the Rivers State Government to court, arguing that it cannot collect VAT based on its law. The said law was already duly passed and made operational by Rivers State House of Assembly that it has the constitutional competency under section 4 of the Constitution to do so.

“The FHC, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had earlier held that it was the Rivers State Government that was competent to collect VAT, not the FIRS.

“The law was already therefore in operation before the FIRS challenged the validity of an FHC judgement, PH, that had given the Rivers State Government the power to collect the VAT.

“So, the status quo is that it is the Rivers State Government that has the power to collect VAT, until perhaps, the Court of Appeal rules otherwise and set aside the FHC judgment.”

The senior advocate, however, urged the parties to “avoid unnecessary bickerings and needless head-on collision” in the matter that is “already subjudice” and “cease hostilities” by “maintaining the status quo until the Court of Appeal finally pronounces on the matter.”

Lagos State is with Rivers in the battle for the decentralisation of VAT.

As a result, it has joined Rivers in the case.