Chief Malcom Omirhobo, a human rights lawyer, has sued the Federal Government (FG), Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Lagos State government and its attorney general, and 12 other northern states and their attorneys general at the Federal High Court, Lagos, over-allocation of Value Added Tax (VAT) realised from the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Other defendants in the suit are Kano, Zamfara, Kaduna, Bauchi, Sokoto, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger and Yobe States. They were all joined alongside their attorney’s general.
The applicant is asking the court to determine whether, by interpretation and/or construction of the provisions of Section 4 (7) and items 58 and 59 of Part I of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, he is obligated to pay VAT to the 3rd defendant (Lagos State) and not to the 1st defendant (FG).
He also wants the court to say whether, by virtue of Section 40 of the VAT Act, Cap VI Laws of the Federations 2004, it is equitable, proper, legal, lawful and constitutional for all domestic VAT collected from the 3rd defendant and other states to be paid into the federation account for allocation to all states and their local councils on a sharing formula.
The sharing formula, he pointed out, is 15 per cent to 1st defendant, 50 per cent to the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and 35 per cent to the 774 local councils in Nigeria on the basis of equality and population.
The lawyer, is, therefore, asking the court to declare that by the interpretation and/or construction of the provisions of Section 4 (7) and items 58 and 59 of Part I of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, the applicant is under obligation to pay VAT to the 3rd defendant and not to the 1st defendant.
Omirhobo is asking the court to declare it illegal and unconstitutional for the 1st defendant to allocate VAT revenue realised from the consumption of alcohol in other states to the 12 defendants who prohibit consumption and destroy them in their respective states for religious reasons and/or in the enforcement of the Sharia criminal law.
Besides asking the court to order that he pays his VAT to Lagos State and not the Federal Government, the lawyer is praying the court to restrain, perpetually, the governments of the 12 states from further institutionalising and implementing the Sharia Criminal Law Justice System in their respective states.
He prayed for “an order of this court compelling the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 25th and 27th defendants to protect the fundamental rights to dignity of the human person, personal liberty, private and family life, peaceful assembly and association, freedom of movement and right to own moveable and immoveable property of the plaintiff, minorities and non-Muslim Nigerians in Kano, Zamfara, Kaduna, Bauchi, Sokoto, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger and the Yobe States from being violated and/or infringed upon as a result of institutionalisation and implementation of the Sharia Criminal Law Justice System by the 12 defendants.”