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VAT: Supreme Court is independent, won’t compromise -CJN

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CHIEF Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Ibrahim Muhammad Tanko has assured Nigerians that the Supreme Court will exercise independence as it hears a suit filed by Rivers State Government against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on value-added tax (VAT).

Muhammad gave this assurance in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media Isah Ahuraka, on Thursday.

He noted that the justices of the court were not only independent but also had a rich history of integrity devoid of external and undue influences.

“It must be borne in mind that the supreme court justices are not only independent minded but also has the pedigree of integrity devoid of influences from within and outside,” he said.

“Times without number, the apex court panel came up with split decisions.”

Controversies have continued to grow across the country after a Port Harcourt Federal High Court ruled last month that the Rivers State Government had the powers to collect VAT within its territory.

In response through its house of assembly, Rivers State enacted the state VAT law and immediately expressed its readiness to enforce the judgment beginning from this month.

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Last week, Lagos State followed suit by enacting and signing the state VAT bill into law.

The state joined Rivers as a co-defendant in an appeal filed by the FIRS against the Federal High Court judgement.

But an Abuja Court of Appeal has ruled that all parties in the matter should maintain status quo.

On Tuesday, this week, Rivers State Government asked the Supreme Court to set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal.

It also asked the apex court to order that the substantive appeal by the FIRS and all other processes be heard and determined by a new panel of the Court of Appeal.

On Tuesday, Ogun State joined the race as the bill to legalise VAT collection passed the second reading in the state house of assembly.

Many Nigerians have said that the current VAT face-off will  set the nation on the path of fiscal federalism.

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They have also expressed their concerns about the ability of the apex court to deliver an impartial judgement.

Vincent Ufuoma is a reporter with The ICIR. He is a lover of God, truth, knowledge and justice.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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