VAT In Rivers State Will Be Paid To The State Government – Wike Challenges FIRS

It has been reported that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has shown displeasure on what he called injustice in the country especially in the area of resource allocation.

Disclosing this at a stakeholders’ meeting on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, the governor gave an order that companies based in the state should start paying their Value Added Tax (VAT) to the state government beginning this September.

According to Wike,  Rivers State generated N15bn VAT revenue in June this year, but got N4.7bn in return, while Kano generated N2.8bn in the same month and got the same N2.8bn back. The governor has described this as injustice.

Wike further revealed that, N46.4bn was collected from Lagos State in the same month but the Federal Government gave Lagos State only N9.3bn, adding that, “Sometimes, you don’t want to believe these things exist.”

Due to this, the State Governor has stated that, “Rivers State is challenging the FIRS from collecting VAT in Rivers State. I am not challenging the FIRS from collecting VAT in Abuja. Let it be understood. The law says Rivers must collect VAT in the state.”

He disclosed that, “The Federal Government surreptitiously lobbied to amend the constitution to place VAT collection in the exclusive legislative list. We have challenged it and we have no apologies to anybody. I don’t want to be in the good books of anybody, but in the good books of God.”

He made it known that, “You don’t bully a state like us. The FIRS should be very careful. I have the political will to do a lot of things. If they continue to bully us, I will take (over) all their offices in the state.”

Wike further warned oil companies and business owners not to henceforth remit their VAT to the FIRS, but to the Rivers State Government.

According to him, “I don’t want you to fall prey to the people, who think they can use force to take our money. If you want to take advantage and say you don’t know who to pay to, it is a lie, you know.”

He declared that, “From this September, we must collect all our VAT. All the banks playing pranks by saying they have not heard from their head offices, I will seal off your branches. If I say I will, know that I will. We will not look back but seal off the premises of such companies.”

Wike reportedly added that Rivers did not need the Nigeria Police Force to enforce the collection of VAT, but would use the state-created security outfit that is supported by the Constitution.

According to him, “I will be happy at my time that heaven came down, because I will create a record that it was my time that heaven came down. We don’t have to use the police; we have our security (outfit) as allowed by law and we will use it.”

He added that, “Please tell your authorities to pay our VAT to our revenue board, which of course you have been told how to do it. Until there is a (court) order stopping us, we won’t stop the collection. If an appeal (court) revokes it, no problem, but the position of the law today is that VAT is for Rivers State.”

Woke disclosed that, “The FIRS cannot threaten you. We are the landlords here, I hope you know that. We have enormous powers to use by law.”

This is coming after the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, in a judgment in suit number FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, held that the Rivers State Government had the powers to collect VAT within its territory.

In reaction to this, the FIRS applied to the court for a stay of execution, in which Justice Stephen Pam reportedly rejected the application, saying granting it would negate the principle of equity.

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Esther Ifeoluwa

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