The Federal High Court in Lagos has directed the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and three others to maintain status quo in their tax dispute with the Retail Council of Nigeria and National Association of Supermarket Operators.
Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa interpreted the status quo order to mean that FIRS is prevented in the interim from accessing the premises or data of Retail Council of Nigeria and National Association of Supermarket Operators members.
He held that the order subsists pending the determination of a pending suit at the Court of Appeal between the FIRS and the Rivers State Government over Value Added Tax (VAT).
The judge also granted an order staying the hearing of all pending applications or processes filed or that may be filed in this suit, pending the determination of the suit between the FIRS and the Rivers State Government.
The Retail Council of Nigeria and National Association of Supermarket Operators are the first and second plaintiff/applicants in the suit.
The FIRS, Softrust technologies Limited, the Minister of Finance, and the Attorney-General of the Federation are the first to fourth defendants/respondents in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1843/2021.
The judge granted the orders on April 28, 2022 after hearing Messrs. Rilwan Ayanbiyi move a March 22, 2022 motion on notice for the plaintiff/applicants and A. O. Abdul for the 1st and 4th defendants.
Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa held: “The court after careful consideration of the application and submission of counsels, it is hereby ordered as follows:
“An order is granted staying the hearing of all pending applications or processes filed or that may be filed and/or further proceedings of this suit… pending… the final determination of Appeal No: CA/PH/282/202; between the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Rivers State Government and/or resolution of all issues and questions relating to the constitutional issue of authority to impose, collect or administer Value Added Tax (VAT) in the various states of the Federation.”
The judge also directed parties to maintain status quo, noting that it is “to be construed or interpreted against the execution of (or effectuation of any steps towards) the 1st Defendant’s threat to request or gain access into the Plaintiffs members’ business premises and/or records, data or information stored or otherwise residing in computers or other electronic devices or implementation of Sections 26 (1) (e) of the FIRS Act 2007”, pending the FIRS, Rivers appeal.