VAT Dispute: Appeal Court Orders All Parties To Maintain Status Quo

A screengrab of the Court of Appeal in Abuja. Inset: A cross-section of lawyers in a courtroom.

 

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.

READ ALSO: Lagos Applies To Be Co-Respondent In Appeal Filed By FIRS

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 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.

 

Lagos Backs Rivers

As the legal battle continues, the action of the Rivers State government received the support of some states, especially Lagos where the government is close to making it a law to collect TAX, instead of the FIRS.

On Thursday, the bill seeking to empower Lagos to collect VAT was read for the third time and passed by lawmakers in the Lagos State House of Assembly. As it awaits the governor’s assent, more states have indicated to follow in the part.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State government has applied to be joined as a co-respondent to the suit filed by the FIRS at the appeal court.

The Attorney General of the State and Commissioner of Justice, Moyesore Onigbanjo, represented the state government at Friday’s hearing.

He informed the court that the interest of the state was at stake, stressing that if they were not joined, it would amount to a breach of a fair hearing.

Onigbanjo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), urged the court to take the application for the joinder first before the application for the stay of execution filed by the FIRS.

But counsel to the federal agency, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), urged the court to hear the main application first, as it was of utmost priority.

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.

Appeal Court Set To Rule On Cross River North Senatorial Seat Dispute

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The Court of Appeal in Abuja is set to deliver a ruling on the Cross River North senatorial district by-election dispute between Senator Stephen Odey and Jarigbe Agom.

Odey had filed the appeal after the Court of Appeal in Calabar invalidated the Certificate of Return issued to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the December 5, 2020, election.

[READ ALSO] 2023 Presidency: Why Buhari Cannot Support Anybody Now – Adesina

Through his counsel, Senator Odey has asked the Appeal Court in Abuja to review and set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal in Calabar, Cross River State made in favour of Jarigbe.

His counsel, Mubarak Adekilekun, argued that Jarigbe did not participate in all the processes that led to the by-election as required by the law.

But Jarigbe’s counsel, Emmanuel Ukala, who cited Order 20 Rule 4 of the Procedural Rules of the appeal court argued that the court cannot sit over an appeal in its own judgment.

In the judgment delivered on July 30, the Calabar Division of the appeal court declared Jarigbe as the duly elected Senator for Cross River North Senatorial District.

A three-man panel of justices, led by Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, declared Jarigbe as the lawful candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the poll after hearing the briefs of arguments filed and exchanged by parties in the appeals, as well as the submissions of the counsels representing the appellants and the defendants in the suits.

It set aside the ruling of the National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal delivered on June 18 which ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return earlier issued to Jarigbe and issue the same to Odey.

The court had invalidated the Certificate of Return issued to Senator Odey by INEC and directed the electoral empire to withdraw it.

Appeal Court Acquits Woman Sentenced To Death For Killing Husband

Lawyers having a chat at the Makurdi Division of the Court of Appeal in Benue State on March 12, 2021.

 

The Makurdi Division of the Court of Appeal has acquitted Amina Zubairu, the wife of a traditional ruler sentenced to death by a lower court.

This comes two years after the appellant was sentenced to death by a High Court sitting in Lafia, the Nasarawa State.

The lower court had convicted Amina and sentenced her to death in 2018 for killing her husband, Adamu Zubairu, who was at the time the traditional ruler of Gom Mama in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

She was said to have committed the crime in 2014 by injecting her late husband with some substance that led to his death.

Displeased with the decision of the high court, the defendant filed an application at the appeal court, seeking to upturn the judgement of the lower court.

In its ruling on the appeal on March 12, 2021, the appellate court held that the case lacked evidence of truth.

It added that the decision of the lower court was a miscarriage of justice and cannot be entertained in the appellate court.

A photo taken on March 12, 2021, shows a signpost of the Makurdi Division of the Court of Appeal in Benue State.

 

The court, thereafter, set aside the judgment delivered on December 11, 2018, by the lower court sentencing the appellant to death.

It held that the judgement was biased against the defendant and acquitted her of the death by hanging sentence.

Reacting to the judgement, counsel to the appellant, Shikammah Sheltu, commended the decision of the appellate court.

He also thanked the court for the speedy dispensation of justice in the case, saying his client would be relieved from the conviction.

On his part, the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Nasarawa State, Abdulkarim Kana, said the government would study the judgement to decide whether to appeal it or not.

Appeal Court Reserves Judgment On Certificate Forgery Suit Against Obaseki

A file photo of Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its chieftain, Williams Edobor, challenging the certificate presented by Governor Godwin Obaseki to contest the 2020 governorship election in Edo State.

A three-man panel of justices of the appellate court made the reservation after listening to arguments from both parties on Monday in the nation’s capital.

This comes two months after a Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed the certificate forgery suit against Governor Obaseki.

In their brief of argument, the APC and its chieftain argued that at the trial court, issues of forgery and falsification were raised but the court only determined the issue of forgery and left out that of falsification.

Counsel to the APC, Akin Olujimi, insisted that the purported degree certificate submitted by Governor Obaseki to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was false.

But in his response, counsel to the governor argued that based on the pleadings of the appellant, the false information allegedly submitted by the respondent was on the fact that he did not graduate from the University of Ibadan in 1979, neither did he resign from Afri Investment Limited.

On January 9, Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja had dismissed the alleged certificate forgery suit against Governor Obaseki, saying the plaintiffs relied on the photocopied document presented by the governor without getting in touch with the university to verify the authenticity of the said certificate.

He added that no iota of truth was brought before the court by the plaintiffs who alleged forgery, saying it was a criminal matter, but the claimants were unable to prove their case.

The judge had also held that the Deputy Registrar (Legal) of the University of Ibadan had given evidence in the suit that the university duly issued the certificate to Governor Obaseki.

According to him, the governor was duly and properly admitted to study Classics, which was later renamed Classical Studies in 1976 and graduated in 1979.

Justice Mohammed concluded that the plaintiffs failed to prove their allegations of forgery against Governor Obaseki and, thereby, dismissed the case.

Maryam Sanda Heads To Supreme Court After Appeal Court Upholds Death Sentence

(FILE) Maryam Sanda weeps at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja on January 27, 2020. Photos: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Maryam Sanda, the woman sentenced to death for killing her husband, plans to file an appeal at the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn the judgements of the lower courts.

Her counsel and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Joe Gadzama, disclosed this to reporters on Friday in Abuja.

This followed the judgement of the Court of Appeal in Abuja which upheld the verdict of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sentencing Sanda to death by hanging for killing Bilyaminu Bello.

Late Bilyaminu, who was stabbed to death, was the son of former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Haliru Bello.

While Sanda argued that she was denied a fair hearing by the trial court and insisted that she was innocent, the appellate court held that the appeal lacked merit.

In a two-hour judgement read by Justice Steven Adah, the court held that it was duty-bound to do justice according to law and not sentiments, stressing that the law does not leave room for irregularities and parties must conduct criminal trials according to the law.

READ ALSO: Maryam Sanda Sentenced To Death By Hanging For Killing Husband

It said the trial court was right in its verdict under Section 221 of the Penal Code, noting that the crime committed was punishable by death.

The appellate court held that it was not in doubt that Sanda killed her husband and it has no reason to set aside the judgment of the lower court.

It added that there was evidence that she murdered her husband during a fight after she saw a nude picture on his phone, and she had threatened him.

Displeased with the judgment of the appellate court, Sanda’s counsel said they would approach the Supreme Court to overturn the verdict.

On the other hand, the police through their counsel, James Idachaba, commended the appeal court judgement, saying they were ready to meet the other party at the apex court.

Sanda’s protracted trial centred on a judicial drama that lasted almost three years as a result of delays, multiple adjournments, and failure of witnesses to appear in court, among others.

She was arraigned in court by the police in November 2017 on two counts of culpable homicide.

The police informed the court that killing Bilyaminu was premeditated and sought a death penalty against Sanda.

In his judgement on January 27, 2020, Justice Yusuf Halilu of the FCT High Court convicted and sentenced Sanda to death by hanging.

Appeal Court Sets Up Panels To Decongest Backlog Of Appeals

A file photo of security operatives at the court of Appeal Headquarters in Abuja.

 

The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, has set up seven special panels saddled with the responsibility of decongesting the backlog of appeals.

She disclosed this on Monday in Abuja, on the occasion of the maiden edition of the meeting with presiding justices of the 20 Divisions of the Court of Appeal tagged: Working Conference of the Presiding Justices of the Court of Appeal.

Justice Dongban-Mensem explained that setting up the special panels became necessary in view of the lingering appeals clustering the court.

She blamed the development on what she described as the unwillingness of some litigants who have failed to file complete processes.

READ ALSO: Lagos To Auction 44 Cars Seized From Traffic Violators

“The Court of Appeal cannot be used as a tool in the hands of these litigants who go into a deep slumber.

“All notices of appeal filed without being followed with other processes to ensure quick prosecution and disposal of the appeal should be shown the way out,” the justice said.

She added, “We have sufficient provisions in our rules, which are backed by constitutional provision for the disposal of matters in court.”

The Appeal Court president noted that since presiding justices were heads of the divisions, they can go ahead and take charge and keep up with the tempo in their various jurisdictions.

“In a nation with teeming unemployed graduates and restive youths, we must do our part to create jobs by ensuring that all appeals are heard expeditiously, especially those which involve corporate bodies and businesses which can provide jobs for our youths,” she said.

The working conference, the first of its kind, was specially chosen to promote a sense of togetherness by enabling the most experienced minds to be deployed on special decongestion panels that would tackle the most congested divisions.

The special panels are expected to sit in two sessions daily and will work for three days to depose of over 100 motions filed at various divisions of the court.

Appeal Court Reinstates 22 Political Parties, Says INEC’s Action Illegal

Court To Decide Certificate Case Against Buhari Today
A file photo of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has reinstated 22 political parties de-registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Some of the parties reinstated by the court are Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) and Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA).

Their de-registration was reversed on Monday in a judgment prepared and signed by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem.

In a unanimous decision, the court declared as illegal, unconstitutional, null and void, the judgement of the Federal High Court upholding INEC’s action de-registering the political parties.

A four-man panel of judges led by Justice Sodipe Lokulo held that the de-registration was illegal because the due process was not followed.

The court also held that INEC’s action was not in compliance with Section 225(a)of the 1999 Constitution as amended, as the electoral umpire did not indicate reasons for the de-registration of the political parties.

INEC To Conduct Supplementary Elections In Kano, Sokoto, Four Others March 23
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, at a press conference in Abuja on March 7, 2019. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

On February 6, INEC announced that it had deregistered 74 out of the 91 political parties in the country.

It said it took the decision following a review of the performance of political parties after the 2019 general elections to see which parties qualify to exists.

Although a total of 75 parties were listed for deregistration, one of them – Action People’s Party (APP) – had obtained a court order restraining the electoral umpire from deregistering it.

The electoral umpire stated that the 1999 Constitution vested in it the power to register and regulate the activities of political parties.

It added that the Constitution was amended in 2018 and in addition to the extant provision for the registration of political parties, the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution (Section 225A) empowered the commission to deregister political parties.

Dissatisfied with the development, some of the political parties tested the legality of INEC’s action at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

But in a judgement delivered in June, Justice Taiwo Taiwo reaffirmed the powers of the electoral umpire to deregister political parties in the country.

Appeal Court Upholds Sack Of Oyo LG Chairmen

 

The Court of Appeal in Ibadan has set aside the High Court judgment restraining the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde from sacking the chairmen of the local government councils in the state.

In his verdict, Justice Haruna Tsammani premised his judgment on the fact that the sacked local government Chairmen failed to show verifiable facts of Governor Makinde’s plan to dissolve the councils.

In the ruling on the appeal between the Governor of Oyo State vs Bashorun Ajuwon and 10 others, Justice Tsammani said the case initiated by the sacked local government chairmen for which they got the May 6, 2019 judgment was mere speculations and based on conjectures.

The judge held that no reasonable course of action gave rise to the institution of the suit.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s First Female Combat Helicopter Pilot, Arotile, Dies At 23

He noted that the ex-LG bosses didn’t present evidence to prove their claim that the governor met with top members of his party over their sack and replacement with transition committees in order to recapture the political landscape.

Justice Tsammani stressed that the court could not make a declaration based on mere conjectures, speculations, suspicion, or imaginative guess but only on facts presented.

He, therefore, struck out the defendants’ pleas for incompetence and failing to show concrete and verifiable facts on the purported governor’s plan to dissolve local government councils.

Appeal Court Affirms Yahaya Bello’s Election As Kogi Governor

lokoja, supreme court judgement, bello,
A file photo of Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.

 

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the election of Mr Yahaya Bello as the governor of Kogi State.

A five-man panel of justices of the court upheld Governor Bello’s election in a judgement delivered on Saturday in the nation’s capital.

The court had dismissed the appeals filed by four political parties challenging the governor’s re-election in the November 2019 governorship poll.

Those who filed the appeals were the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Action Peoples Party (APP), and the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP).

On the APP’s appeal, Justice Mohammed Shuaibu dismissed the appeal filed by the party in a unanimous judgment.

He also affirmed the decision of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which dismissed the petition filed by the APP and awarded a cost of N100,000 against the party.

In its appeal, APP had claimed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) unlawfully excluded it from the governorship election in Kogi State.

READ ALSO: PDP Seeks Prayers Of Recovery For Umahi, Ortom’s Wife

Similarly, the appellate court dismissed the appeal filed by the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) against Governor Bello’s victory in the November 2019 governorship election.

DPP’s appeal was also dismissed in a unanimous decision while the SDP candidate, Natasha Akpoti, lost her bid to unseat Governor Bello.

In its judgement, the court held that Akpoti could not prove the allegations of corruption and voter intimidation against the governor.

On his part, Mr Musa Wada of the PDP got his appeal dismissed by the court, but not without a penalty.

Wada was ordered to pay a sum of N100,000 each to Governor Bello, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and INEC, who were listed as respondents in the appeal.

The court dismissed the appeals filed by the political parties and their candidates after they lost at the Tribunal.

On November 18, 2019, INEC returned Bello as the duly elected governor having scored the highest number of votes in the keenly contested poll.

He polled a total of 406,222 votes to beat his closest rival, Wada who scored 189,704 votes and Akpoti who garnered a total of 9,482 votes.

Appeal Court Nullifies Judgment Sacking Ifeanyi Ubah

Ifeanyi Ubah

 

The Court of Appeal has set aside an FCT High Court judgment sacking Senator Ifeanyi Ubah as the lawmaker representing Anambra South Senatorial district.

In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Stephen Adah, the court held that the FCT High Court acted outside its jurisdiction to entertain a matter that arose in Anambra state.

Justice Adah while awarding a cost of N250,000 against the first and second respondents in the appeal, insisted the lower court acted like an octopus and denied Senator Ubah the right to a fair hearing.

He added that the court further acted on an unsigned originating summons, which is also a nullity.

READ ALSO: Ifeanyi Ubah Appeals Judgement Sacking Him From Senate

The embattled Senator Ifeanyi Ubah on January 18, filed a suit at the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgment which removed him as the lawmaker.

He disclosed this to Channels Television a day after a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in the Bwari area of Abuja reaffirmed his sack.

Ubah explained that appealing the judgement of the court was important because it lacked the jurisdiction to giving such ruling.

He stressed that neither him nor his party – the Young Progressives Party (YPP), was served the court notices when the case was brought before the court.

The embattled lawmaker said, “Even in the Electoral Act; anything after the announcement of an election (result) is a post-election which should go through the Tribunal, not FCT High Court.

“Even the FCT High Court has no territorial jurisdiction over this matter. The matter was a matter which took place in Anambra South senatorial district.”

Ifeanyi Ubah Asks Appeal Court To Reinstate Him As Senator

Court To Decide Certificate Case Against Buhari Today
A file photo of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

 

 

Embattled lawmaker, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, is seeking to return to the Senate after he was sacked by a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in the Bwari area of Abuja.

This comes as the Court of Appeal in Abuja is set to hear the suit filed by Senator Ubah challenging the judgement which removed him as the lawmaker representing Anambra South district in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.

In a ruling delivered on January 17, Justice Bello Kawu had reaffirmed the sack of Senator Ubah of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).

He ordered that Mr Obinna Uzoh of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who had challenged the embattled lawmaker’s victory in the Anambra South senatorial district election of February 23, be recognised as the winner of the election.

A file photo of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah.

 

 

Justice Kawu also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to Uzoh, the applicant, as the senator-elect in the district.

The PDP candidate had among other claims, alleged that his YPP counterpart presented a forged National Examination Council (NECO) secondary school certificate to INEC, which enabled Ubah to contest the election.

He also insisted that Ubah’s party should be disqualified for not conducting a primary for its candidates in the poll.

The trial judge, in his ruling delivered in January, refused to reverse the judgement of the court delivered in December which removed Ubah as a member of the Senate.

He sacked Ubah and declared that the second defendant in the suit – the YPP – did not have the locus standi and should not have participated in the election.

Buhari Appoints Justice Dongban-Mensem As Acting Appeal Court President

A file photo of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem as the acting President of the Court of Appeal.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, announced this in a statement on Thursday.

He explains that the appointment, which takes effect from Friday, is for an initial period of three months.

Shehu added that Justice Dongban-Mensem would act in an acting capacity until when the incumbent president of the court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, would statutorily retire from service.

“Justice Dongban-Mensem, who is the next most senior judge of the Court of Appeal, will be acting pending when a substantive appointment to the position of the President of the Court of Appeal may be made by President Buhari subject to the confirmation of the Senate,” the statement said.

The presidential aide said the approval of Justice Dongban-Mensem appointment followed the recommendation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

The recommendation, Shehu said, was made in line with the provisions of Section 238(4) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.