Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike has spoken of the underground moves of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS to manipulate the law to enable it continue to generate revenue by way of Value Added Tax and other forms of taxes.
The governor has also urged corporate organisations in the state to begin to pay their taxes to the state government from this month, going by the state law empowering the state to collect such taxes.
He said at a meeting with corporate firms in the state on Wednesday that efforts by the FIRS to amend the constitution through the back door had failed and noted that the state government would not be intimidated by the antics of FIRS, who believed that they had the backing of some powerful forces to crush the state government, even thought the government was on the side of the law.
“When we challenged the federal government through the Office of the Attorney-General and FIRS in court, do you know what they did? They wrote this letter dated 1st of July 2021. Remember, it was in 2020 that we filed this action against them. But see how corrupt this country is.
“Corruption is not only about kickbacks, it is also about doing something illegally. We were in court in 2020.Then on July 1st 2021, the chairman of FIRS wrote to the National Assembly through the office of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“He was asking them to amend the constitution and insert VAT under item 58 of the exclusive legislative list, when we were already challenging that it is not their responsibility to collect VAT. They knew that what they were doing was not the right thing.”
He said it was important for corporate firms to obey the new law on VAT payments. “We are going to inaugurate the Tax Appeal Commission by Friday which will be headed by a retired judge of the state.”
Governor Wike described the disparity in VAT proceeds and what is given to the States as an inexplicable form of injustice that weakens the performance potential of the states.
“Let me tell you the injustice in this country. In the month of June 2021, which we shared in July, VAT collected in Rivers State was N15.1billion. What they gave us was N4.7billion. See the gross injustice and these money includes contracts awarded by the Rivers State Government.
“This is not an issue of party, it is the issues of infraction of the constitution, issues of illegality. Look at Lagos, it is not the same party with me. In the month of June 2021, the VAT collected in Lagos was N46.4 billion but see what Lagos got, N9.3 billion. Have you seen the injustice in the country? VAT collected in Kano was N2. 8billion and they gave them N2. 8billion. Is there any justice in this country?
“I overheard the FIRS chairman saying that I’ll soon know the power of the Federal Government. And that they’ll show me that they have the power to muzzle the judiciary. You can muzzle them as you want. Let the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court interpret the law so that all of us will go and rest.
“Use all the power you want to use, but history will be written one day and those who will allow themselves to be used to muzzle and misinterpret the law will face God one day.”