Daily Courier – The Supreme Court, on Monday, slated May 6, 2022, to deliver judgement in a suit filed by the Rivers Government challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal that ordered it to maintain the status quo on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).

The Rivers state government, in its appeal, wants the apex court to order that the substantive appeal by FIRS marked CA/PH/282/2021 and all other processes therein, be heard and determined by a new panel of the appellate Court.

In the appeal, hinged on 10 grounds, the appellant maintained that the three-man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, erred in law when they relied on the provisions of Section 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution and the inherent jurisdiction of the appellate court, to order all the parties to maintain status quo on the VAT dispute.

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who led a six-member panel of justices of the Supreme Court, fixed the date after the counsel in matter adopted their written addresses.

The Rivers Government is praying the court to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal that ordered it to maintain the status quo on the collection of Value Added Tax, (VAT), pending the determination of an appeal that was filed by the FIRS.

It argued that the Appeal Court Justices failed to appreciate that the inherent jurisdiction of the court cannot be applied in contravention of statutory provisions and also failed to appreciate the nature of inherent jurisdiction which, it cannot invoke to circumvent the clear provisions of the statute as it was done with regards to Order 6 Rule 1 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016 in the case.

The appellant argued that the appellate court panel failed to take into account a decision of the Supreme Court to the effect, “that no court has an inherent jurisdiction (except in extreme circumstances) to set aside the exercise of discretion of another court with regards to order made in respect of an application for stay of execution.

The Rivers state government further contended that the appellate court, by proceeding “to make a far-reaching decision”, based on the oral application by FIRS, denied it a fair hearing.

It said the panel, by relying on the oral application to order the maintenance of status quo, which effectively operated as a stay of execution and as an injunction against the declaratory orders of the Federal High Court, occasioned a miscarriage of justice, to its prejudice.

Consequently, it prayed the apex court to allow the appeal, set aside the decision of the court of appeal on maintenance of the status quo, and further dismiss the oral application that was made by the FIRS.

Daily Courier recalls that the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division had stopped both Rivers and Lagos States from proceeding to collect VAT in their states, pending the determination of the appeal by FIRS.