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VAT: Wike goes to S’Court, wants stay of execution nullified

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The Rivers State government on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court of Nigeria to quash the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which ordered parties to maintain Status Quo in a suit seeking to determine, who has the right to collect Value Added Tax (VAT) in Rivers State.

Justice Stephen Pam of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had in a judgment delivered on August 9, held that the Rivers State government and not the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), had the right to collect VAT and Personal Income Tax in the state.

Justice Pam, in the judgment subsequently restrained the Attorney General of the Federation and FIRS (1st and 2nd defendants) from collecting VAT in Rivers and directed the Rivers State government to take charge of the duty.

However, the appellate court in a ruling last Friday ordered all parties that have submitted themselves before the court to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the hearing of an application seeking to stay the judgment of Justice Pam, which restrained FIRS from collecting VAT in Rivers State.

FIRS had approached the appellate to set aside the judgment of the trial court, pending the hearing of the main suit. The appellant applied for an order for stay of the Federal High Court Judgment and another order of interlocutory injunction restraining Rivers from collecting VAT in the state.

In a short ruling, a three-member panel of Justices of the appellate court presided by Justice Haruna Tsammani, ordered parties to maintain status quo ante bellum and not to give effect to the judgment of Justice Pam.

The order was to enable the court to hear Lagos State joinder application before taking the motion for stay and interlocutory injunction.

But displeased with the decision, Rivers, on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court to set aside the ruling of the appellate court on grounds that the lower court erred in ordering status 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 maintained that the appellate court lacks the powers to set aside its own 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.

Among the reliefs being sought was an order dismissing the oral application for interim injunction and another order excusing the panel, which granted the status quo from further hearing of the appeal.

Shortly after the court held that it would give priority to the Lagos motion and adjourned for its hearing, counsel to the FIRS, Mr Mahmud Magaji, SAN, made an oral application for interim injunction so as to preserve the res (revenue collection – the main issue).

Although this position was opposed by counsel to Rivers and Lagos States, who were yet to be joined as a party, the three-member panel however in a unanimous decision, held that the parties must maintain status quo.

In the appeal filed by its lawyer, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, the Rivers State government argued that the appellate court erred in law when it ordered maintenance of status quo on a case that was not perishable or has any evidence of being damaged or destroyed.

The appellant further argued that the appellate court erred in law when it went outside the reliefs sought by the respondent in its motion on notice filed August 27.

They further maintained that the court was wrong in ordering status quo ante bellum after the Rivers State House of Assembly had passed its VAT law, which was assented to by the governor, Nyesom Wike, on August 19.

They, therefore, want the court to set aside the ruling of the Justice Tsammani-led panel against the judgment of Justice Pam for being a nullity.

The appellate court had held that the right of Lagos State would be affected adversely if not heard since the appellant had already made allegations against it.

While adjourning to September 16 for the hearing of the joinder application by Lagos AG, Justice Tsammani, held that since the application for stay and interlocutory injunction could not be heard, it was only proper to preserve the ‘res’.

Invoking the powers of the court in line with section 6 of the Constitution, to preserve the res from being dissipated, the court ordered that all those that have submitted themselves before the court should maintain status quo ante bellum.

According to the ruling, all parties should refrain themselves from giving effect to the judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt delivered on August 9, which restrained the FIRS from collecting VAT in Rivers State.

He subsequently adjourned to Thursday, September 16 for the hearing of the application for joinder by the Lagos AG.

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Sheikh Zakzaky meets survivors of 2015 clash

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The leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, has met with survivors of the December 2015 clash between soldiers and members of the movement.

Zakzaky also met with the families of those killed in the clash.

A Kaduna State High Court had on July 28, 2021, discharged and acquitted the Sheikh and his wife, Zeenat who had been standing trial on eight counts of charges bordering on alleged criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide.

However speaking in Abuja, according to a release made available to Daily Trust, the Sheikh used the opportunity to condole with them over the losses of their loved ones.

He urged them to always remember the persecution and hardships meted out to Imam Hussein (AS) when the dreaded army of Yazid besieged and massacre them.

He alluded to his visitors that no sacrifice is too high when it comes to the path of Allah.

Sheikh Zakzaky also apologised for having to invite some of them, instead of going to their houses to condole them.

“Due to the injuries we sustained during the military attack on us, we still carry bullet fragments in our bodies, and there is no way we can meet up with all the victims and the survivors of the brutal military onslaught against us in December 2015,” he added.

Zakzaky then prayed to Almighty Allah to give the families of the martyrs the fortitude to bear the irreparable losses they suffered and prayed that Allah accept the martyrdom of those killed.

Responding, Dr. Isa Waziri Gwantu, who said he lost four of his children during the Zaria incident, expressed gratitude to the Sheikh for inviting them to meet him in such a difficult circumstance and reiterated their resolve to never abandon the right path being championed by the sheikh.

Hajiya Jummai Karofi, who said he lost five children, said, “I would like the killers of my children to know that what they did to them would never scare us away from Sheikh Zakzaky and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, in fact, they are ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice in defense of Islam.”

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PHOTOS: Fani-Kayode dines at residence of another Buhari’s Minister

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Since Thursday when his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) was made public, Femi Fan-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation, has been under fire.

From Social media to traditional media, the former critic of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling party, has been lampooned.

But FFK has waved critics aside, sharing pictures of his visit to the residences of key APC figures.

On Saturday, he released pictures of his visit to Ali Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, whom he had labelled a terrorist and asked Buhari to sack a few months ago.

While the dust raised by the post is yet to settle, Fani-Kayode released fresh pictures of his visit to the residence of George Akume, Minister of Special Duties.

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Armed gang invade Lagos streets, injure many, loot shops

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Mushin area of Lagos State was yesterday, thrown into commotion as some armed gang invaded some streets, inflicting injuries on residents and destroying property worth millions of naira.

It was gathered one person died in the mayhem that forced churches within the affected communities to close for fear of being attacked.

Information had it that a notorious armed robber was arrested sometime by the police and was transferred to Abuja. But his release was allegedly facilitated by some big shots he worked for.

After his release, his loyalists from the Idi-Araba area of the state reportedly invaded some areas of Mushin to attack some persons whom they accused of being the cause of his arrest. The areas affected were Alafia, Daniel and Morgan.

A resident, who simply gave his name as Mitchy, explained that “the fight has been going on since midnight (Saturday)and the perpetrators came from Idi-Araba. This has been happening for almost six months. But last night and today’s(Sunday) were the most violent.

“Surprisingly, the armed thugs were teenagers between 16 and 19 years. They looted people’s shops and carted away goods. They were armed with machetes, guns and bottles.

“Holy Trinity Anglican Church at Alafia junction and Christ Gospel Apostolic Church on Da-Silva street could not conduct Sunday service.”

It was gathered teams of policemen from the Tactical Unit of the Lagos State Police Command were ordered by the Commissioner of Police, CP Odumosu to contain the situation.

When contacted, the command spokesman, CSP Ade Ajisebutu, said 15 suspects had been arrested in connection with the clash. He said axes, cutlasses and expended cartridges were recovered in the process.

According to Ajisebutu, “Normalcy has returned to the area. CP Odumosu has assured residents to go about their lawful businesses. At the end of an investigation, the suspects will be charged to court.”

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