From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Lagos State Government was on Thursday joined as a respondent in the legal battle against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal.
Ruling on the motion for joinder filed before it, the appellate court held that Lagos has established beyond doubt that it has substantial and sufficient legal right and interest to protect in the revenue collection dispute.
In a unanimous ruling, the court ordered that all processes filed in respect of the suit be served on Lagos as a third respondent to enable the state to respond as required by law to the appeal filed by FIRS.
Justice Haruna Simon Tsamani delivered the lead ruling fixed October 7 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 Value Added Tax (VAT) Act and holding the states 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 was ready.
In arguing Lagos’ application, the State Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, said his client was a necessary party as it would be affected by the outcome of the case.
Lawyer to Rivers State, Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, agreed with Onigbajo and urged the court to join Lagos, while lawyers to FIRS and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mahmud Magaji, SAN, and Tijani Gazali, SAN, argued otherwise and prayed the court not to join Lagos.