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Wike vows to fight on in epic VAT battle

... reiterates need for judicial autonomy

Despite the legal twist generated in the demand for equitable sharing of the Value Added Tax (VAT), Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has vowed not to give up on his demand for what is right.

He spoke during a courtesy call on him by the management of BusinessDay Newspaper in Government House, Port Harcourt.

In a garbed reference to the VAT law as enshrined in Nigeria’s Constitution, the governor noted that in 1999, the leaders came out with laws that would guide the nation.

He regretted that some of those laws were no longer obeyed but flagrantly violated to the extent that the laws seemed to be non-existent, making it difficult for a change of status quo.

“It’s not easy to challenge what everybody has come to accept as normal. In 1999, leaders of this country sat and drew up these laws,” he said.

He warned that for the country to move forward in this regard, the authorities must first acknowledge that the VAT law exists and then initiate a dialogue for deliberation on the issue, rather than pretending as if the law was non-existent or trying to come with intimidation.

Governor Wike said he was happy that the attorney-general of the federation had gone to the Supreme Court to challenge his stance on the VAT issue.

Read also: Rivers not fighting FG over tax collection – Wike

He described it as a good development that would enable the judiciary to interpret the law in accordance with its constitutional role.

“I’m happy that the AGF has gone to the Supreme Court. If you don’t go to court, how would we know the law?

“It’s like when the Federal Government starts collecting money from the states’ fund to finance the Police Trust Fund… security is in the Exclusive List. The states can only partner with the Federal Government. If there’s anywhere the Federal Government wants the states to assist, they should seek the consent of the state governments. Federal Government is not our supervisor,” he said.

He however faulted a situation where the independence of the judiciary was being threatened, citing the recent invasion of a Supreme Court judge as an instance.

“If the judiciary has autonomy, why would they go and invade the house of a judge,” he asked.

The governor frowned at the activities of sycophants who he said speak from both sides of the mouth to please their paymasters, thereby causing more problems in the system.

Wike however promised that such actors and the foregoing challenges would not deter him from demanding for what was right, and promised to keep working until his last day in office.

Earlier, leader of the BusinessDay team, Ogho Okiti, commended Governor Wike for the good work he was doing in Rivers State.

According to Okiti, who is the managing director of BusinessDay, the achievements of Governor Wike are too conspicuous not to be noticed.

He said a lot of good changes had taken place in Port Harcourt since the last time he visited the city, and pleaded with the governor to keep up the good work.

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