The Court of Appeal in Abuja, has reserved its ruling on the application filed by Lagos State government to join in an appeal by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), challenging the judgement of a Federal High Court, Port-Harcourt, which delivered a judgement in favour of Rivers State government to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).
Justice Haruna Tsanammi, presiding over the 3-man panel of the appellate court, reserved ruling on Thursday after parties had argued the joinder application filed by the Attorney General of Lagos State.
Moyosore Onigbanjo, the Attorney General of Lagos State, told the court that the application was essentially seeking leave for Lagos State to be joined as respondent in the appeal.
He adopted all his processes and urged the court to allow the applicant to be joined.
He argued that the principle of joinder application is that the party seeking to be joined is a necessary party, and the party’s interest will be legally or financially affected by the outcome of the legal action.
He submitted that the party seeking to be joined will be bound by the decision arising from the action.
He argued that the Constitution empowers States as federating units to collect taxes, insisting that FIRS itself in its counter affidavit recognised that Lagos State is an interested party.
The appellant (FIRS), according to Onigbanjo made allegations against Lagos State government, and therefore it was not out of place for the applicant to be joined.
He argued further that in accordance with Section 36 of the Constitution, Lagos State should be accorded an opportunity to defend the allegations in the spirit of fair hearing.
“You cannot shave a man’s head at his back,” the Lagos AG posited.
In his response, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), counsel to the 1st respondent (Rivers State) aligned himself with the submission of the Lagos AG.
An effort by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, who is the 2nd respondent to oppose the joinder application was rejected as being incompetent.
Represented by Tijani Ghazali (SAN), an acting Director Civil Appeals, Federal Ministry of Justice, the court agreed with the objection raised by the Lagos AG that the AGF did not file a counter affidavit and his purported written address was filed out of time.
On his part, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), counsel to the appellant, also urged the court not to join Lagos State government in the appeal.