Nyesom Wike, River State governor, has slammed what he described as unfairness in resources allocation in the country.
Wike, who spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, disclosed that the state generated N15 billion in Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue in June this year, but got N4.7 billion in return, while Kano generated N2.8 billion in the same month and got the same allocation back.
Consequently, the governor ordered companies based in the state to start paying their VAT to the state government from this month.
The governor also said Lagos State generated N46.4 billion in the same month, but got N9.3 billion from the federal government, saying “Sometimes, you don’t want to believe these things exist”.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), had earlier in a bid to retain the collection of the tax, wrote to the national assembly to seek the inclusion of VAT collection in the exclusive legislative list.
In August, the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, in a judgment in suit number FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, held that the Rivers State Government had the powers to collect VAT within its territory.
Although the FIRS applied to the court for a stay of execution, Justice Stephen Pam rejected the application, ruling that granting it would negate the principle of equity.
Briefing business owners in the state on Wednesday, Wike said any organisation that failed to pay VAT to the state will be sealed off.
“Rivers State is challenging the FIRS from collecting VAT in Rivers State. I am not challenging the FIRS from collecting VAT in Abuja. Let it be understood. The law says Rivers must collect VAT in the state”, he said.
“The Federal Government surreptitiously lobbied to amend the constitution to place VAT collection in the exclusive legislative list.
“We have challenged it and we have no apologies to anybody. I don’t want to be in the good books of anybody, but in the good books of God.
“You don’t bully a state like us. The FIRS should be very careful. I have the political will to do a lot of things. If they continue to bully us, I will take (over) all their offices in the state”.
The governor warned oil companies and business owners not to henceforth remit their VAT to the FIRS, but to the state government.
“I don’t want you to fall prey to the people, who think they can use force to take our money,” he added.
“If you want to take advantage and say you don’t know who to pay to, it is a lie, you know.
“From this September, we must collect all our VAT.
“All the banks playing pranks by saying they have not heard from their head offices, I will seal off your branches. If I say I will, know that I will.
“We will not look back but seal off the premises of such companies.”
He added that Rivers does not need the Nigeria police to enforce the collection of VAT, but would use the state-owned security outfit backed by law.