‘There Won’t Be Outside Influence’ — CJN Speaks On Supreme Court ‘VAT Panel’

Ibrahim Muhammad, chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), says the panel which will hear an appeal by the Rivers state government on the value-added tax (VAT) controversy will be free from external influence.

Rivers is seeking a supreme court ruling setting aside an order of the appeal court which directed the state to maintain status quo on the collection of VAT pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Supreme court insiders had told TheCable on Thursday that there are plans to arrange a UK trip for the CJN before a panel is constituted to determine the appeal.

In his absence, Mary Odili, the No 2 in the supreme court hierarchy and former first lady of Rivers state, will appoint the members of the panel.

Reacting to the report, the CJN, in a statement signed by his senior special assistant on media, Isah Ahuraka, said all the justices of the apex court are independent and have integrity.

“It must be borne in mind that the supreme court justices are not only independent minded but also has the pedigree of integrity devoid of influences from within and outside. Times without number, the apex court panel came up with split decisions,” the statement read.

Ahuraka also said the CJN is healthy and thus, has no plan to travel to the UK for medical attention.

“We unequivocally state that the CJN is hale and hearty. Last week, he interrogated the seven chief judges involved in the granting of conflicting court injunctions, spanning over seven hours. This is just as he presided over the National Judicial Council (NJC) meeting on Wednesday and Thursday this week,” he said.

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