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THE INSIDER: Intrigues at supreme court over composition of ‘VAT panel’


The legal battle over value-added tax (VAT) has shifted to the supreme court with intense internal intrigues over the choice of panel members to hear the appeal by Rivers state government, insiders have told TheCable.

Justice Stephen Pam of the federal high court, Port Harcourt division, Rivers state, had ruled that it is states that should collect VAT.

Under the current practice, VAT is collected on behalf of the federation by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), with states getting 30 percent derivation.

Rivers, Lagos and Ogun states have enacted laws to enforce the judgment, but the appeal court asked them to stay action until the appeal, filed by the FIRS, is determined.

However, Rivers state has headed for the supreme court, asking that the appeal court order be set aside.

MUHAMMAD TO GO ON HOLIDAY?

Supreme court insiders told TheCable on Thursday that there are plans to arrange a UK trip for Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, the chief justice of the federation, before a panel is constituted to determine the appeal.

In his absence, Mary Odili, the No 2 in the supreme court hierarchy and former first lady of Rivers state, will appoint the panel.

A pronouncement by the seven-member panel will be the final say on the VAT controversy.

Muhammad has not been active since he fell ill with COVID last year.

He was flown to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for treatment.

In its appeal, the Rivers state government asked the supreme court to nullify decision of the appeal court and set up a new panel.

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