RIVERS State Governor Nyesom Wike has accused the Federal Government of trying to amend the constitution through the back door.
Wike said in a statement on Wednesday that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) had secretly written to the National Assembly, through the Office of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, seeking to transfer the collection of value added tax (VAT) to the Exclusive List.
The Exclusive List contains items that can only be handled by the Federal Government.
He said the move came after Rivers State government, through the state attorney- general, had in July 2020 challenged the collection of VAT by the FIRS in court.
“We filed the value added tax (VAT) collection action against FIRS and the Office of the Attorney General representing the Federal Government in 2020,” he said.
“In July 2021 the Chairman of FIRS wrote to the National Assembly through the Office of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives to amend the Constitution and empowered the Federal Government to collect VAT.
“They knew what they were doing was unconstitutional, that’s why they wrote for the constitution to be amended to Include VAT in the exclusive legislative list. This was exactly what we were challenging in court so they tried to include it through the back door.”
Wike noted that “corruption was not only about people collecting money, it was also doing things illegally.”
The governor also lamented the country’s revenue sharing formula and fiscal responsibility which was designed against states with higher taxes.
“In June N15.1bn was collected as taxes in Rivers State but N4.7bn was given to Rivers State, N46.4bn was collected from Lagos State but Lagos was given N9.3bn.
Kano generated N2.8bn and was given N2.8bn.”
Wike vowed to continue fighting for what was right as long as he remained Rivers State governor.