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Lagos May Be Punished If It Goes On To Collect VAT After Court Stopped It From Doing So

Nigerian can remember that the Court of Appeal had ordered Governor Nyesom Wike and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu not to go ahead with the planned collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT).

This order was given by the Court of Appeal after it granted the stay of execution demanded by the federal government through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). Since then, Nigerians felt that the two states (Rivers and Lagos) would halt further actions until the main suit has been decided in view of that order. But, it seems Lagos may not do so following a latest revelation that emerged.

Image credit: The Punch

This was because a member of Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Setonji David, revealed that Lagos State would go ahead with the collection of the VAT as earlier planned despite the order of the Court of Appeal. In a report by The Punch, David argued that the status quo that the Court of Appeal told all parties to maintain means that Lagos law on VAT and the plan to implement it are not affected as they are all part of the status quo. His argument is that Lagos State can go on with the VAT collection because the plan is not affected by the stay of execution order given by the Court of Appeal.

Image credit: TodayNg

What may happen if Lagos collects the VAT.

If Lagos State goes ahead to collect the VAT as David disclosed, the state may found guilty of contempt of the Court. Contempt of the Court is serious offence in the eyes of the law because the court is the temple of justice. If the Court allow individuals, groups and entities to hold it in contempt and go unpunished, then the course of justice would be greatly undermined.

Image credit: The Guardian

This is the major reason the Court imposes serious punishment on any party that holds it in contempt. If Lagos goes ahead with the VAT collection irrespective of the order given by the court, then the Court of Appeal will most likely find the State guilty of contempt and impose a serious penalty on it. It will be remembered that former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, was sent to prison after he was found guilty of contempt of the court. He had refused to appear before the court after he was invited. The court did not overlook it in view of his status. Right now, Zuma is serving the prison terms after which he would come out and still face the main trial.

Jacob Zuma Is Ordered to Prison by South African Court - The New York Times

Image credit: NYT

This should make Lagos to tread with caution. Waiting is not wrong. In fact, states may even win this case against the federal government. After all, the Court of Appeal fixed September 16 for the hearing of the main suit. That is two days from now. It is better to wait a little more in obedience of the court order than to spoil the whole thing with an act that may be viewed as contempt of the court.

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Court of Appeal Lagos Lagos State Rivers Setonji David

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