VAT: S/Court throws out La­gos suit

Daily Trust - - TAXATION - By Ade­lanwa Bamg­boye

The Supreme Court, last Fri­day, threw out a suit filed by the La­gos State Govern­ment chal­leng­ing the power of the Federal Govern­ment to as­sess and col­lect taxes on sup­ply of all goods and ser­vices within its con­sti­tu­tion­ally de­fined ju­ris­dic­tion.

In a judge­ment by the full panel of the apex court, Jus­tice Dat­tijo Mo­hammed up­held the Pre­lim­i­nary Ob­jec­tion filed by the Federal Govern­ment and dis­missed the suit on the ground that the court lacked ju­ris­dic­tion to en­ter­tain it.

Other Jus­tices on the panel were Mah­mud Mo­hammed, John Afo­labi Fabiyi, Nwali Ng­wuta, Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, Kudi­rat Kek­erer-Ekun and John Inyang Okoro.

The Supreme Court main­tained that rather than com­ing be­fore it to ap­peal the ear­lier re­jec­tion of the suit at the high court and court of ap­peal, the plain­tiff ap­proached the apex court ask­ing it to in­voke its orig­i­nal ju­ris­dic­tion and hear the mat­ter.

The court, how­ever, de­scribed the suit as “an abuse of court process in the ex­treme,” adding that the ac­tion of the plain­tiff amounted to “fo­rum shop­ping.”

Hav­ing de­clined ju­ris­dic­tion to hear the suit, the Supreme Court held that it was not nec­es­sary to de­ter­mine the is­sues raised by the plain­tiff in the suit.

Jus­tice Mo­hammed stated: “It is ac­cord­ingly un­nec­es­sary to delve into the is­sues hav­ing de­clined ju­ris­dic­tion. The pre­lim­i­nary ob­jec­tion raised against the com­pe­tence of the plain­tiff’s suit suc­ceeds and the plain­tiff’s suit is hereby struck out.”

La­gos State has ap­proached the court seek­ing among other re­liefs, a dec­la­ra­tion of the court to abol­ish the Value Added Tax VAT Act, which it said in­fringed on its power to as­sess and col­lect taxes on the sup­ply of goods and ser­vices within its ter­ri­tory.

The Com­mis­sioner of Jus­tice and At­tor­ney-Gen­eral of La­gos State has in­sisted that the Supreme Court ought to nul­lify the VAT Act and grant its re­liefs, which, ac­cord­ing to the brief of ar­gu­ment, in­cluded a dec­la­ra­tion that the VAT Act was out­side the leg­isla­tive com­pe­tence of the Na­tional As­sem­bly and was, there­fore, un­con­sti­tu­tional, null and void and of no ef­fect what­so­ever.

Re­act­ing to the judge­ment, coun­sel to the Federal Govern­ment Adedara Ad­edeji ap­plauded the apex court for up­hold­ing its pre­lim­i­nary ob­jec­tion by dis­miss­ing the suit.

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