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VAT: Governor Wike's Background As A Lawyer And How It Equipped Him To Make A Stand

Ever since the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) collection by states was raised by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state, speculations pertaining to it have been all the rage in the country. For a moment, it seemed the Governor had gained the right to collect VAT after he signed it into law and defeated the FIRS in the Federal High Court of Port Harcourt. However, the judgment was appealed and will now be presented before the Supreme Court to have the final say.

Photo credit: Premium Times Nigeria.

The reason Governor Wike is the instigator of the VAT uprising likely has something to do with his educational background. For those that may not be aware, he is an alumni of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology where he graduated as a lawyer, before proceeding to Law School and finishing in 1997. Additionally, he acquired a Masters degree in Political and Administrative Studies from the same institution. After briefly functioning as a legal practitioner, the Governor decided to give politics a go and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Photo credit: Dreamstime.

Going by this and considering that lawyers are reputed to not only know the law, but also where to find it, it comes as no surprise that Governor Wike was quick to spot the VAT loophole in the 1999 Constitution. As it turns out, in no place does the law vest power in the Federal Government to collect VAT from states. The Governor has pointed out that one needs not be a lawyer to know that it is not included in items 58 and 59 of the second schedule of the constitution. This serves as the basis of his argument. 

Photo credit: People's Gazzette.

In fact, noticing this loophole, the House of Representatives has now made a move to pass a bill to amend the 1999 Constitution. It seeks to empower states to collect VAT by moving item 39 of the second schedule from the exclusive list of the FG to the concurrent list of state governments. This part of the constitution will also be modified to include VAT. Below is the provision of the law as it stands now. 

So far, Governor Wike has used his knowledge of the law, thanks to his legal background, to defeat the FIRS in the Federal High Court of Port Harcourt. No doubt he plans to achieve the same feat in the Supreme Court in the pending trial. Wether or not he will succeed there remains open to debate. 

What do you think about this article? Can Governor Wike defeat the FIRS in the Supreme Court? Tell us your opinion in the comments section below.

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