Nigeria

Lawyers back state governors’ stand on value added tax

Some Nigerian lawyers yesterday threw their support behind the state governors who are pushing for the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) in their respective states.

The lawyers spoke on the Morning Show of Arise News Channel.

One of the lawyers, Goddy Uwazurike, who reacted to the controversy surrounding VAT, said the issue remained a state affair.

Uwazurike accused the federal government of simply doing the ‘Abacha era’ type of domination and taking control of VAT from the beginning, which he termed as being wrong.

He, however, commended governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, and Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State for driving the case about VAT and others who followed suit.

“This way is where we will streamline correctly what is due to who. As of now in this country, the VAT collected by the president and distributed to every other part of the country is illegal. No other court has said anything to the contrary. I encourage the issue of VAT resolution in court,” he said.

Addressing the issue of insecurity in the country, the lawyer totally condemned it.

He said: “You cannot create life so why should the take life. In Anambra, unknown gunmen, as we call them are in action. And they don’t want any election thereby making the state ungovernable. All the thugs you can think of are rushing to Anambra because there’s a job to be done, there is employment. These gunmen are not ordinary gunmen and they are definitely not Igbos, they are people who kill for pleasure.

In the whole of the South-east, the issue of presidency coming there was what destroyed its harmony and peace.”

Another lawyer, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Norris Quakers, said the Northern governors and the elders from the north were wrong in projecting what he described as ‘selfish agenda’ that might destroy the corporate existence of the nation.

According to Quakers, “This is a red flag, and it should be rejected and refused. They must allow reason to prevail, and not take these sort of posture that, because it is not provided for in the Constitution, in plain terms, it’s something that cannot hold. The constitution provides for federal character and terms of appointment, it must reflect who we are as a people. Now, it naturally follows that even if there is no particular provision in the constitution as regards rotational presidency, whatever we do, at the federal level must reflect the composition of who we are as a nation and then as a people.

“Now if you look at the constitution of the political parties, there is also a provision in that regard about the rotational presidency, recognition of rotational offices. It also allows for efficiency in government in a particular part of the country. It is important that another ethnic group or another section of the country is given the opportunity at the national level, of being the president.

Speaking further he noted that it was important to promote fairness and equity that could be achieved by allowing somebody from another ethnic group to emerge as the president.

Quakers further said: “A particular person from a particular segment from the north has been there for eight years, somebody else should be given the opportunity from the south, and should also be there maybe for another two years or four years or eight years as the tenure will demand. The problem we have is that we find it very difficult to adhere strictly to the agreement. It’s so easy when it is convenient and we tag along, but when the obvious stares at us in the face, we backtrack and that’s what is playing out now. The question then is, have we had somebody from the north who had been given the responsibility of stirring the ship of the Nigerian state? The answer is yes. How long has he been there? Plus or minus, he’s going to do eight years, and then he’ll be out of office”

The SAN encouraged Nigerians to be honourable by standing by the provisions of the constitution and letting somebody else come from another part of the country to contribute to the development of Nigerian society.

According to him, “We have been stagnant for too long so let’s bring other persons from other ethnic groups, and let them come and see how the country can be moved forward again. President Muhammadu Buhari would not have been president if the South didn’t vote for him if he didn’t get a two-thirds majority of the vote cast in the country, so he’s not a northern president and should not be seen as a northern president. He is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. For now, because of political expediency, it’s important that somebody else should be given the opportunity from the South to move the country forward.”

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