VAT: I’ll seal FIRS branches in Rivers if Bullying persist- Wike

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WIKE
Governor Nyesom Wike

Nyesom Wike, Rivers state governor, has threatened to seal off Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) offices if they continue to “bully” organisations within the state over value-added tax (VAT) payment.

Wike made this known during an interactive session with corporate organisations in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.

In August, the court had issued an order restraining FIRS from collecting VAT in Rivers and directed the state government to take charge of the collection.

After the judgment, Wike signed a bill on value-added tax (VAT) collection into law.

On Monday, the court also dismissed an application by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) seeking to stay of execution on the VAT controversy.

Despite this, FIRS asked taxpayers to continue to honour their tax obligations under the VAT Act until the court of appeal or supreme court gives a final verdict on the matter.

The governor had said the judgment of the federal high court had sufficiently addressed the illegality perpetrated by the FIRS.

“An agency of government cannot dictate to a state government. If they will ever dictate but not to a state like Rivers because certainly, we will not allow it, Wike said.

“People say that ‘let heaven not fall’, sometimes I believe that it is important that heaven should come down so everybody will rest.

“We have challenged it (VAT collection in court), and we have no apologies to anybody. And the problem in this country is that no one wants to come out.

“And all these bullyings by FIRS…they should mind the state they are bullying, they should be very careful. You don’t bully states like us.

“I have the political will to do a lot of things. I am not one of those governors that will shy away from this or that. If they continue to bully us… all their offices in the state, I will take them. You should know those that you bully, not states like us… don’t try it.

“I will not be a party to injustice, but let history be that some of us stood up and challenged the illegality. Until we leave May 29, 2023, I will continue to challenge what I think is not right.”

The governor also said that shares allocated to states from VAT collection are inequitable and unjust.

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