“IF JUSTICE ABANG CANNOT NOT UNDERSTAND HOW CIVIL SERVANTS’ TAX CLEARANCE WORKS, HE OUGHT TO HAVE SOUGHT CLARIFICATIONS”.
These were the exact words of Court of Appeal Justice Ibrahim Shata Bdilya today while reading his judgment in the Ikpeazu V. Ogar appeal.
Please read the account below to see how the Court handled the issue of tax payments by Civil Servants.
Again, we have been vindicated.
“The issue of tax clearance which puts the burden of proof on the Governor on the tax issues, was not an issue, with regards to a civil servant or public officers whose tax is deducted at source and of which the first respondent was one.
his tax income will be assessed by the tax office.
“I do not agree with the trial judge that it is the second respondent that is the governor that supplied the information to the tax office.
“That would have been true if he had a private business on the side, for which he would have been required by law to declare to the tax office.
“But as a civil servant his tax is deducted at source and imputed by the tax office.
“If the trial judge cannot understand how civil servants tax clearance works he ought to have sought clarifications,” he stressed.
Explaining further, he pointed out that he could not agree that the tax documents submitted were irregular and false.
“The challenge in the originating summons in relation to tax clearance is not any where near the narrow view envisaged by the Electoral Act.
“There is no allegation of non-payment of tax but that the documentation was false. I therefore resolve this ground in favour of the pdp.
“It is my view that the judge committed a great injustice to the rules of natural justice by not listening to all sides In the case.
“By not listening to the Chief tax officer in defence of the Governor he had shut out their opportunity to defend themselves.
“By failing to consider the application of one James Okeji, a director in the Abia State tax office and on the other hand saying that it was an afterthought, the High Court Judge missed a golden opportunity to give all sides opportunity, thereby abandoning his training as a judge,” the Appeal Court held.
It also held that that except a person had participated in an election that he would not be issued a certificate of return and not that could not be decided by a court.
“That is why in the case of Rotimi Amechi the Supreme Court ordered that he should be sworn in and not issued a certificate of return.
“There is a laid down proceedings as to how a certificate of return should be issued to a person,” the Justice held.’