Governor Wike defies a Court of Appeal order asking parties to maintain status quo. Inaugurate Commission on VAT law, ENigeria reports.
Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike launched the state’s Tax Appeal Commission on Friday, just days after the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal ordered state governments to maintain the status quo in the collection of value added tax.
The commission, which was inaugurated by Mr Wike, is charged with ensuring that taxable persons and companies follow the terms of the newly enacted Rivers VAT law.
Following a ruling by the Federal High Court’s Port Harcourt Division on the illegality of the federal government’s VAT collection via the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Mr Wike signed the VAT Bill into law on August 19.
Mr Wike asked the commission to “concentrate on dealing with complaints originating from those who do not want to pay their taxes, while also prevailing on others who believe the tax body is doing what it is not intended to do” at the inauguration event in Port Harcourt.
“At this time, in terms of what is going on, it is a very important responsibility. As a result, I believe you should regard this assignment as a call to service from your state,” the governor added. “Without taxes, no country can exist. As a result, you will do everything possible to assist the government and citizens in carrying out their responsibilities,”
The governor’s views were contained in a statement released by his spokesman Kelvin Ebiri on Friday and made accessible to Peoples Gazette.
The governor, on the other hand, expressed trust in the chairman of the commission’s ability to complete the task.
ENigeria Newspaper understands that members of the tax appeal commission sworn in are: Bennett Eke Ugbari (Chairman), Edwin Krukrubo, Owhonda Ihekwoaba Nobel, and Gift Sovins.
Mr. Ugbari, a former judge, agreed with the governor that the state must create enough internal money to supplement the statutory amounts it receives from the federal government in his statement.
He stated that the recently enacted VAT will allow the governor to keep his commitments to the people of Rivers in terms of infrastructure and other development.
Mr Ebiri reported Mr Ugbari as saying, “It is, therefore, the intention of the commission to work with other appropriate tax bodies in Rivers State to generate adequate internal income for the State.”
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal’s Abuja Division on Friday ordered Rivers State and the FIRS to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the outcome of a suit brought by the latter over the Rivers court judgment.
Many northern states, including Katsina, Gombe, and Kogi, have joined FIRS in protesting Rivers and Lagos’ decision to start collecting VAT independently. The Adamawa State government, on the other hand, stated that it was willing to investigate the new VAT reform.
On Friday, Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu signed the state’s VAT Bill into law, following its swift passage through the State Assembly. At the appeal court, the state is also seeking to be joined in the FIRS’ case.
In yet another desperate move, the federal tax agency wrote to the National Assembly, requesting that the Constitution be amended to allow it exclusive authority to collect consumption taxes and other taxes throughout the country.