Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, says the proposed value-added tax (VAT) increase by the federal government is in violation of the law if the national assembly has not passed a bill to that effect.
Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, had announced that the federal executive council (FEC) approved an increase in VAT from 5% to 7.5%.
She said the council is working towards ensuring that the implementation of the proposed increase takes effect from 2020, after an amendment in the VAT act by the national assembly.
But the senior lawyer advised the federal government to propose a money bill to the national assembly before the implementation of the increase.
“It’s illegal, under a democratic dispensation you cannot impose a tax or increase tax without a law made by the National Assembly or the State Assembly as the case may be,” Falana said in an interview in Abuja.
“In this case, it has to be realised that we are not under a military dictatorship.
“By virtue of section 59 of the Nigerian Constitution, any increase, levy or tax will have to be presented to the National Assembly by way of money Bill by the President, it has to be passed into law.”
Falana said the national assembly erred by inviting the minister of finance to clarify the issue.
“The Senate erred in law by inviting them to come and clarify, the National Assembly has invited the Minister of Finance and the Federal Inland Revenue Services to come and clarify,” he said.
“No, the National Assembly must insist on its powers under Section 59 to pass a law to increase VAT or any tax, there can be no taxation without legislation.
“The Federal Executive Council has no power under the Constitution to increase VAT or any tax in the country.”