Abiodun OBA

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers state,has been asked by the Oyo state government for a joinder in the suit instituted by the Rivers state government against the attorney-general of the federation in respect to the bid by the state to take over the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) from the federal government.

The suit, instituted by the Oyo state attorney-general, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, is seeking an order of the appellate court to enable the state to join the suit as an interested party.

The Oyo state government is seeking two orders in the suit: an order of the 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 Oyewo, the Oyo state government was unaware of the suit between the Rivers state attorney-general and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) at the Federal High Court until the judgment was delivered.

Other grounds upon which the application was based include an argument that the appellate Court s decision will affect the collection of VAT by the Oyo state government, being one of the states which the judgment of the lower court recognised as entitled to collecting VAT within its territorial jurisdiction.

The Oyo state government also indicated 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 Court in this Appeal.”

The Oyo State government claims that “the applicant is a necessary party to this suit being a party who will be bound by the judgment of this 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.”

In a 12-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, which was filed by the director of civil litigation in the chambers of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Ministry of Justice, Oyo State, Olatunji Sunday Thomas, the Oyo state government said it is in the interest of justice that the court grants the application, adding that the joinder would not prejudice the appellants.

It stated that joining the state to the suit already instituted by Rivers state will help to avoid multiplicity of suits against the federal government.

It quoted several legal authorities and concluded thus: “We, therefore, urge the 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.”

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