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Court orders status quo in tax dispute suit involving FIRS, others

By Joseph Onyekwere
09 May 2022   |   2:43 am
Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court, Lagos has directed the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and three others to maintain the status quo in their tax dispute

Federal High Court, Lagos

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court, Lagos has directed the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and three others to maintain the status quo in their tax dispute with the Retail Council of Nigeria (RCN) and National Association of Supermarket Operators (NASO).

According to the decision, FIRS is temporarily prevented from accessing the premises or data of RCN and NASO.

The judge ruled that the directive subsists pending the determination of a pending suit at the Court of Appeal between FIRS and the Rivers State government over Value Added Tax (VAT).

The court also granted an order staying the hearing of all pending applications or processes filed or that may be filed in this suit, pending the determination of the suit between the FIRS and the Rivers State government.

RCN and NASO are the first and second plaintiffs/applicants in the case.

FIRS, Softrusttechnologies Limited, Minister of Finance and Attorney General of the Federation are the first to fourth defendants/respondents in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1843/2021.

The order, made on April 28, 2022, but its Certified True Copy (CTC) obtained yesterday by The Guardian was granted after hearing Messrs. R. Ayanbiyi, S. Lawal and A. Giwa, who moved a March 22, 2022 motion on notice for the plaintiffs/applicants and A. O. Abdul for the first and fourth defendants.

The judge held: “The court after careful consideration of the application and submission of counsel, is hereby ordered as follows:

“An order is granted staying the hearing of all pending applications or processes filed or that may be filed and/or further proceedings of this suit pending the final determination of Appeal No: CA/PH/282/202 between the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Rivers State government and/or the resolution of all issues and questions relating to the constitutional issue of authority to impose, collect or administer Value Added Tax (VAT) in the various states of the federation.”

He also directed parties to maintain the status quo, noting that it is, “to be construed or interpreted against the execution of (or effectuation of any step towards) the first defendant’s threat to request or gain access into the plaintiffs’ business premises and/or records, data or information stored or otherwise residing in computers or other electronic devices or implementation of Sections 26 (1) (e) of the FIRS Act 2007, pending the FIRS-Rivers appeal.”