VAT: Status quo remains as Court of Appeal joins Lagos in suit

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has formally joined Lagos state government as the third respondent in the ongoing legal battle against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) over the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).

The court held Thursday that Lagos state has established beyond doubt that it has substantial and sufficient legal rights and interest to protect in the revenue collection dispute.

In a unanimous ruling, the appellate court ordered that having made Lagos a party in the matter, all processes filed in respect of the suit must be served on the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice as a third respondent to enable the state respond to the appeal filed by FIRS as required by law

Justice Haruna Simon Tsamani who delivered the lead ruling fixed October 7 for continuation of further hearing in the matter.

He also ordered that the matter be moved from Abuja to Port Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal for further hearing of the case.

The appeal by the FIRS is against the August 9, 2021 judgment by Justice Steven Pam of the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, voiding the VAT Act and holding that states as federating units could collect VAT.

A three-man panel, led by Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami, after listening to arguments by lawyers to parties on September 16, said they would be informed when the ruling is ready.

While arguing Lagos’ application for joiner, the state’s Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) had claimed that his client was a necessary party as it would be affected by the outcome of the case.

Onigbanjo had argued that Lagos has vested interest in the Value Added Taxes collection and that the decision of the Court would affect It one way or the other when delivered.