The Appeal Court sitting in Abuja has ordered all parties to maintain the status quo and refrain from taking action that would give effect to the judgement of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that allowed the Rivers State government to collect Value Added Tax (VAT), pending the hearing and determination of the instant suit.
A three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Haruna Tsammani gave the order on Friday while ruling on an appeal filed by the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS).
The order of the appellate court is the latest development in the series of legal tussles over whose responsibility it is to collect VAT.
Although the FIRS has taken up the responsibility over the years, the Rivers State government tested the legality recently, and it was worth the move.
On August 19, Governor Nyesom Wike assented to the Valued Added Tax Law, 2021 along with four others following their passage by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
His action was sequel to the judgement delivered by Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court in the state capital who held that states should collect VAT, and not the Federal Government.
Displeased with the decision of the court, the FIRS filed a motion on notice to apply for a stay of execution on the earlier judgement delivered by Justice Pam.
But the court said refused the application, saying the federal agency failed to file an application to set aside the tax law recently enacted by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Justice Pam, therefore, stated that the state law on VAT was valid and subsisting.
The FIRS later approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja with a civil motion seeking a stay of the execution of the judgement earlier granted by the court in Rivers pending the determination of the case.
As the legal battle continues, the action of the Rivers State government received the support of some states, especially Lagos.
The appellate court, in its ruling, held that the motion of joinder by the Lagos State government be heard and gave the applicants two days to file their written addresses.
Similarly, the respondents have been given two days to file their response, while the applicants were given a day to reply on the point of law.
Osun Election Petition Tribunal: APC, Oyetola file case
…We ‘ve fundamental grounds to seek justice, ensure victory for our clients – petitioners’ counsel
Following the outcome of the July 16 governorship election in Osun, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday filed a petition before the Election Petition Tribunal sitting at the State High Court, Osogbo.
The petitioners who were seeking justice challenged the results of the election in some of the Local Government Areas and prayed the Tribunal to return their mandate to them.
This is even as the first petitioner and Governor of the State, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola was physically present at the Tribunal to sign the petition filed before the tribunal.
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Senator Ademola Adeleke winner of the July 16 governorship election having polled a total number of 403,271 against 375,027 polled by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola.
Addressing journalists shortly after the petition was filed, signed and sealed, one of the petitioners’ Counsels, Mr. Kunle Adegoke (SAN) expressed confidence in the substance of the petition to ensure victory for Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and the ruling party.
According to him, the legal team of the petitioners have established fundamental grounds to seek justice and ensure victory for them in view of the substance of the case.
“We ‘re here to file a petition on behalf of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in respect of July 16 governorship election in the State. The petition has been filed and it has been received by the registry of the tribunal.
“In the next few days, activities will be in top gear in respect to the proceedings of the tribunal. So, we are here today with the petition which has fundamental grounds upon which we believe the election ought to have been returned in favour of Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and All Progressives Congress (APC).
“We are confident of the petition and we are confident of victory”, he added.
Also, the State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while fielding questions from journalists, expressed confidence in the substance of the petition saying ‘by the grace of God, we will win the case and come out victorious”
“We are here today to file our election petition to challenge the outcome of the July 16 governorship election in Osun. We just filed it, signed and sealed for the tribunal to take over from there.
“By the grace of God we are confident of victory. The members of the party are in tune with me that is why you see many of them here with me. A lot of people are here today believing that we have a good case and by the grace of God we will have a cause to jubilate at the end of the case”, Famodun said.
Ekiti Guber Poll Fall Out: Court Strikes Out Suit Challenging Gov-Elect’s Candidacy
A Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti Division, has struck out a suit filed by an All Progressives Congress governorship aspirant in the January 27 primary in Ekiti State, Kayode Ojo, challenging the emergence of the governor-elect, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, as the party candidate.
Ojo, dissatisfied with the conduct of the APC governorship primary, had approached the court, urging it to nullify what he called “gross irregularities” in the exercise.
He also faulted the use of individuals he described as political appointees as electoral committee/returning officers and consequently ordered a fresh primary.
But APC and Oyebanji, who were first and second defendants in the suit, averred that the direct primary held in all the 177 wards in the state were valid and in compliance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), and the constitution and guidelines of the party.
While Ojo’s counsels urged the court to uphold their statement of claims and grant them the reliefs being sought, counsels to Oyebanji said that the suit was not competent, saying that the discrepancies in the originating processes had rendered the case academic.
Delivering judgment, Justice Babs Kuewumi, who upheld the preliminary objection of the counsel to Oyebanji, Mr Kabir Akingbolu, that the writ of summons and statement of claims of Ojo were defective which dealt a fatal blow to the case, threw out the case.
Justice Kuewumi said, “Due to the irregularities in the identity of the lawyers who filled the processes, the case is defective and terribly bad. As the Bible says, when the foundation is bad what can the righteous do? We must know you can’t put something on nothing, which therefore renders the entire suit as a mere academic exercise. I hereby strike out the suit.
“Having ruled on the issue of objection, there is no further judgment to deliver. The plaintiff is free to approach the higher court for appeal.”
Counsel to Oyebanji, Akingbolu, expressed satisfaction with the verdict, saying, “Before a process is filed in court, a known lawyer must sign, it but many lawyers subscribed to this originating process but there was only one signature. The law is that you must tick the name of the person who signed it and this was not done in this case.
“Again, the NBA seal, which is the authority of office for a lawyer to signal document was affixed but the name on the seal was different from the one on all the process.
“So, there was no way the court could determine whether it was signed by a clerk or whether it was signed by a street urchin or a lawyer. On the ground, the court has rightly thrown away the case and the whole thing has crumbled.”
However, Ojo rejected the judgment, saying, “The judge wrongly dismissed our case based on technicallity. Though, we believe in the santity of the court, but the judge erred in his judgement and we know the appeal court will correct the error.
Better days are here for Judges – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari says the degenerate welfare and working conditions of the nation’s judiciary, are “serious and would be treated as such,” even as he cautions on the dire state of the country’s economy “currently battling insecurity, corruption and economic challenges,” aggravated by the COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.
Speaking Thursday at the State House, on the occasion of a visit by the chairman and representatives of the Body of Benchers, a body of legal practitioners of “the highest distinction in the legal profession” President Buhari said a democratic government like the one he leads, “standing on a tripod comprising the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, cannot stand where one of its three pillars, the Judiciary is not properly nurtured, maintained and sustained to deliver on its very pivotal constitutional duties.”
He therefore promised to act quickly on the report of the committee he set up on his own back in 2018 to review the welfare and working conditions of the judiciary:
“Let me assure you that the issues would be given due and urgent attention within the resources available to government.”
The president congratulated the Body of Benchers on the successful completion of the “Benchers’ complex at Jabi,” a building described as impressive that would house the body and provide conference facilities and accepted their invitation to personally commission the structure.
In his presentation, the chairman of the Body of Benchers, Wale Olanipekun, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, described the condition under which judges, especially the Justices of the Supreme Court work as pathetic, appalling and below the minimum standards that are required:
“We want to plead with you. We need to bail out the Judiciary.
The situation is bad. Let us sympathise with the Judiciary. I know you to have respect, feelings for the Judiciary.
You have sympathy, empathy and consideration. The Body of Benchers as elders of the legal profession makes these recommendations to Your Excellency, with a plea that they should be attended to urgently.”
In his introductory remarks, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, made a case for collaboration of the Executive and the Judicial arms, to “open the books to enable both sides see the depth of the decay and know how far to go in putting in place the necessary remedial measures.”
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