South-South Governors Backs VAT Suit

Governors of the South-South region have agreed to back the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) suit to challenge Value Added Tax (VAT) collection by states.

The agreement was reached on Monday at the meeting of the South-South Governors’ Forum in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The Chairman of the forum, and Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, stated this while chatting with reporters at the end of the closed-door meeting.

“The Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta (BRACED) Council after an extensive deliberation, resolved unequivocally to support the decision for states to collect VAT and resolved to join the suit before the Supreme Court.”

“This is predicated on the fact that most of the BRACED commission states have already established their state security outfits.”

Recall that Rivers state was the only respondent to the pending suit before the Court of Appeal, while authorities in Lagos and Oyo states have added their applications to the appellate court.

The forum also discussed extensively establishing its regional security outfit to combat security challenges in the region.

The governors requested that the National Assembly should review and amend sections of the recently enacted Petroleum Industrial Act. Recall that since the bill was passed into law, the percentage of to host community had been a concern to the region.

They added that the amendment would look into tackling the issue of transferring the power to appoint the trustees to state governments.

Speaking further, they urged President Muhammadu Buhari to respect the law that founded the Nigeria Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by appointing a substantive board, adding that the forensic audit of the agency which was submitted to the President recently be made public.

The Governors also demanded that the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and head offices of international oil companies should be relocated to states in the Niger Delta region.

They stressed that when stakeholders in the geopolitical zone met with a delegation from the Federal Government led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, it stated the request.

Present at the meeting was: the host, Governor Nyesom Wike, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, and Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State. The Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, was absent.

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