Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has reserved ruling on the application filed by the Lagos State Government to join in an appeal by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, challenging the judgement of a Port-Harcourt Court.
The Rivers Court, had on August 9, ordered the Rivers State Government to collect the Value Added Tax(VAT).
The three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, reserved ruling after parties had argued the joinder application filed by the Attorney General of Lagos State.
Specifically, the Lagos AG, M. J Onibanjo, adopting all his processes asked the court to allow his application seeking leave to be joined as a respondent in the appeal.
In his argument, he submitted that the application for joinder is that the party seeking to be joined is a necessary party, and the party’s interest will be legally or financially affected by the outcome of the legal action.
He further posited that the party seeking to be joined will be bound by the decision arising from the action.
He argued that the Constitution empowers states as federating units to collect taxes, insisting that the Federal Inland Revenue Service themselves in their counter affidavit recognised that Lagos State is an interested party.
Relying on Section 36 of Constitution, he maintained that Lagos state should be accorded an opportunity to defend the allegations in the spirit of a fair hearing.
“You cannot shave a man’s head at his back” the Lagos AG posited.
Also, he contended that the joinder application seeks to avoid multiplicity of suits, since Lagos state already has a law empowering it to collect VAT.
“It was in recognition of interest of Lagos state that this court made an order for status quo to be maintained by all parties before it, Onibanjo argued.
“In view of the inconsistencies contained in the counter affidavit of the appellant, I pray the court to grant our application in favour of Lagos state, the Attorney General said.
In his response, counsel to the Rivers State, Ifedayo Adedipe SAN, aligned himself with the submission of the Lagos AG.
Counsel to the applicant, Mahmud Magaji SAN, urged the court not to join the Lagos state government in the appeal.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice moves to oppose the joinder application was rejected as being incompetent.