The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reserved its ruling on the application for a joinder filed by the Lagos State government as the legal tussle over the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) continues.
When the court resumed sitting on Thursday, the Attorney General of Lagos State and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Moyesore Onigbanjo, began the day’s hearing by taking his application for joinder in the suit.
He informed the panel of judges led by Justice Haruna Tsammani that Lagos was entitled to collect VAT, stressing that the VAT Act was approved by an order of the court, although it has been annulled.
According to the senior lawyer, the states that are recognised by the Constitution to collect VAT and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) recognises that fact.
He added that the principles for joinder of a party, seeking to be joined, must be a necessary party and show that its interest, legally and financially, will be affected.
Onigbanjo stated that going by the submissions of the FIRS, Lagos State has already enacted the VAT law and it would lead to another action if they were not allowed to be joined in the suit.
He, therefore, urged the court to uphold the application for joinder, arguing that the case of joinder sought to prevent multiplicity of action.
On his part, counsel to the Rivers State government and SAN, Ifedayo Adedipe, supported the application for joinder by the Lagos State government.
But counsel to the FIRS and SAN, Mahmoud Magaji, opposed the application for joinder while relying on Section 243 of the Constitution.
He explained that the Constitution does not support applications for joinder and Lagos State was not a party to the suit at the trial court.
Responding, Onigbanjo countered Magaji’s argument, insisting that Lagos was one of the 36 states mentioned in the judgement of the trial court.
After listening to the arguments of the counsels to the parties in the matter, Justice Tsammani reserved the ruling on the application for joinder to a later date to be communicated in due time.