VAT Saga: Oyo Seeks To Join Rivers In Suit Against FG
The Oyo State government has asked the Court of Appeal, sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for joinder in the suit instituted by the Rivers State government against the Attorney-General of the Federation in the bid to take over collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from the Federal Government.
The suit, instituted by the Attorney-General of Oyo State, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, is seeking an order of the Appellate Court to enable Oyo State to join the suit as an interested party.
The government of Oyo State is seeking two orders, viz: an order of the Honourable Court joining the Attorney-General of Oyo State as a respondent on the appeal with suit number FHC/PH/CS/149/2020 and appeal number CA/PH/282/2021, and any other order the Court may deem fit.
According to the Attorney-General of Oyo State, the state government was unaware of the suit between the Attorney-General of Rivers State and the Federal Inland Revenue Service at the Federal High Court until the judgement was delivered.
Other grounds upon which the application was based include that the decision of the appellate court will affect the collection of VAT by the government of Oyo State, being one of the states which the judgement of the lower court recognised as entitled to collect VAT within its territorial jurisdiction.
Oyo State government also indicates that the applicant (Attorney-General of the State) “represents the interest of the Oyo State government, whose interest in the collection of Value Added Tax within Oyo State will be impacted one way or another by any judgment delivered by this Honourable Court in this Appeal.”
The grounds claimed by the Oyo State government include that: “The Applicant is a necessary party to this suit being a party who will be bound by the judgment of this Honourable Court in this Appeal.
“The interests of the Applicant and that of the Respondent, in this case, are similar, being States within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
A 12-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion was filed by the Director of Civil Litigation in the chambers of the Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Ministry of Justice, Oyo State, Olatunji Sunday Thomas.
In the affidavit, the government of Oyo State said it is in the interest of justice that the Honourable Court grants the application, adding that the joinder would not prejudice the Appellants/Respondents.
It stated that the state, being one of the 36 states of Nigeria, will be affected by the decision of the Appellate Court, adding that joining the state to the suit already instituted by Rivers State will help to avoid multiplicity of suits by the states against the Federal Government.
In a motion on notice also attached to the proceedings already filed before the court, Oyo State said it relied on eight grounds and declared that the state is a necessary party to be joined since it has sufficient interest in the outcome of the appeal.
The state further argued that after going through its processes, the Appellate Court will find that the application is necessary and that it has sufficient interest in the determination of the appeal as one of the states of the federation.
It quoted several legal authorities and concluded thus: “We, therefore, urge the honourable court to resolve the sole issue raised in this application in favour of the Applicant and hold that the Applicant is a proper, desirable and necessary party to be joined in this appeal…
“In conclusion, we humbly urge your Lordships to grant this application in the interest of justice and effective determination of the issues before the Court.”