LAGOS, Nigeria—The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) described the raging Value Added Tax, VAT, and controversy in Nigeria as a wake-up call for northern governors.
Rivers and Lagos state governments are in court to wrest collection of VAT in their territories from the Federal Government.
Southern governors in their meeting, last Thursday, in Enugu State also supported the collection of VAT by states, saying it is constitutionally dictated that states should own such tax.
Zonk News has learned, amid the ballooning debate about VAT, the Northern Governors Forum will hold an emergency meeting today (Monday), to discuss issues relating to the Value Added Tax.
It was further gathered that the planned meeting, which would be hosted by Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, would be presided over by the chairman of the forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong.
The coordinator of the Northern Governors Forum Secretariat and Secretary to the Plateau, State Government, Professor Danladi Atu, confirmed the planned meeting in Jos on Sunday.
Atu said this as some senior lawyers took on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, over his recent statement that no states had the power to lay claim to the collection of the VAT in the economy.
The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt had in a judgment last month held that Rivers State had the power to collect VAT within its jurisdiction.
But the Federal inland service headed for the court of appeal to challenge the judgment.
At the appeal court, Lagos State filed an application that it should be joined with Rivers State as a co-defendant in the appeal filed by the FIRS.
The appeal court ordered parties in the suit to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the appeal.
Kaduna Governor, Malimi said in an interview on Friday, collection of the VAT in the country was on the exclusive legislative list, adding that only the National Assembly had the power to make VAT laws.
However, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, and Ifedayo Adedipe faulted Malami.
Ozekhome said contrary to Malami’s claim, VAT is the residual list and is strictly within the purview of state governments.
He said, “Malami is dead wrong. There is nowhere VAT is reflected as a matter within the exclusive or concurrent list in the constitution of Nigeria.”