The battle for the Valued Added Tax collection in Rivers State has just gained momentum as Governor Nyesom Wike has reportedly relocated to Abuja over the issue.
Governor Wike has been in the news after his declaration which challenged the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS on tax collection in Rivers.
FIRS had earlier approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja to challenge the judgement of the Federal High Court in Rivers State which ruled on August 9 that the state, and not the FIRS, should collect VAT and Personal Income Tax in Rivers.
However, reports reaching Naija News on Monday confirmed that Wike and his Finance Commissioner, Isaac Kamalu landed in the federal capital city on Sunday, September 19.
This is understood to be a move to win River state’s purse from the FIRS.
Wike’s trip to Abuja comes after the Appeal Court had said it reserved ruling on the application for a joinder filed by the Lagos State Government.
Naija News understands Rivers state Government had in return approached the nation’s Apex court, the Supreme court to set aside the ruling of the appellate court on grounds that the lower court erred in ordering status quo after it earlier held that the application for joinder by Lagos State must be heard first before the motion for stay and interlocutory injunction by the FIRS.
The appellant had maintained that the appellate court lacks the powers to set aside its judgment, which held that the Lagos application for joinder must be taken before any other application. They further argued that ordering ‘status quo ante Bellum amounts to granting the reliefs being sought by the FIRS when the main application has not been heard and determined.
Moves were said to have been made to ensure everything works in Wike’s favour.
A part of the alleged move was an effort to ensure that the Chief Justice of the Federation, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad proceeds on a trip to the United Kingdom before the panel is constituted.
With this, the second-highest in command at the supreme court, Justice Mary Odili will select the panel.
Naija News understands Governor Wike is a political godson of Mrs Odili’s husband, Peter Odili.
Unfortunately, the alleged effort proved abortive as the CJN issued a statement stating that there will be no external interference in the case.
Despite the CJN’s denial, Wike’s reason for briefly relocating to Abuja with the state’s commissioner of finance may be related to the case.
Meanwhile, Wike had earlier threatened that he would not hesitate to shout down the office of any oil company or other business outfit that continues to pay VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as of this September.
He also warned the FIRS not to believe it can use federal might to intimidate him as he is a governor that has the political will to talk and execute.