- Ikeja NBA Gives Lagos Seven-day Ultimatum to Reverse Land Use Charge
The Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch, has given the Lagos State Government a seven-day ultimatum to reverse the recent hike in Land Use Charge.
The Chairman, NBA Ikeja Branch, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, said in a statement on Wednesday that the association was set to embark on a mass protest tagged: ‘Hell Tax Must Go’ against the new tax regime.
Ogunlana stated that the NBA was strongly opposed to the LUC, which he described as an “excessive and arbitrary tax regime” calculated at turning Lagos State into a “toxic environment and a living hell” for the residents.
He said the association would give Governor Akinwunmi Ambode till next Monday to retrace his steps on the LUC, failing which its members would hit the streets on Tuesday.
According to him, the protest will be the association’s “first phase of critical and constructive response to the decidedly insensitive, provocative, arbitrary and parochial tax agenda programme against the Ambode administration.”
The NBA chairman said, “Few weeks ago, Lagosians woke up to learn about the hyper-inflated rate of the so-called Land Use Charge, which the governor of Lagos State has escalated upwards by 400 per cent.
“Recently, one of our colleagues, who regularly paid the sum of under N140,000 as LUC for an office building, received a demand notice for the LUC; he is now to pay the amount of N2m.
“If these tax rates are allowed, Lagos State will be turned into a toxic environment and a living hell for Lagosians.”
According to Ogunlana, the new LUC will have an adverse effect on all other services and functions in Lagos State as owners of properties and services will automatically transfer other financial burdens to their customers, who will have to bear the burden.
He added, “My view is that the government of Lagos State has lost sync with the difficult and harsh realities of life of the people of Lagos and has taken their support and goodwill for granted. Life will become not only too expensive, but volatile and dangerous.
“The government cannot hide under developing Lagos into a mega smart city to kill Lagosians with exorbitant taxes.”
Meanwhile, residents of the Lekki peninsula have revealed plans to go to the Lagos State Land Use Appeal Tribunal over the new bills being served on them under the re-enacted LUC Law.
The Lekki Estates Residents and Stakeholders Association, a coalition of all residents associations along the Lekki-Epe Axis of the state from the 1004 Estate to Epe, met on Sunday and unanimously resolved that the members would not pay the new charges, which they said were four times higher than what they paid in 2017.
The Chairman, VGC Property Owners and Residents Association, Mr. Olusegun Ladega, said residents found the new charges exorbitant and out of tune with their economic realities.
Ladega, who is also the Vice Chairman, LERSA, told our correspondent that the charges were based on unrealistic and arbitrary valuation of residents’ properties.
He stated that the residents had commenced the process of documentation and had set up a committee to take their case to the Lagos State Land Use Appeal Tribunal.
Ladega explained, “We were served bills on the Land Use Charge that were about four times higher compared with what we paid in 2017 due to the valuation of our properties through a process we know nothing of and consider as unrealistic and arbitrary.
“The figures with which they valued our properties are out of tune with market realities and we do not even know when these properties were valued. How do you value a property without the owner knowing? We have resolved to take our case to the tribunal shortly.”
Ladega noted that residents of the peninsula were being squeezed economically as they also had to pay tolls to get to their houses despite the fact that there was only one way leading into the area.
He called on the Lagos State House of Assembly to make laws that were fair, just and in tune with economic realities.
“They should look at the recently passed law and see if they have acted in the best interest of the citizens,” he advised.
Charges low, won’t cause hardship – LASG
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government on Wednesday said the Land Use Charge Law of 2018 would not cause hardship, adding that the rates were not high.
Speaking during a press briefing in Alausa, Ikeja, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, said the figures being bandied around were not true, adding that people with high amounts in the demand notices were those who had not paid land charges for several years.
“There have been so many misconceptions and misinformation about the new law. The law is a progressive enactment duly made by the House of Assembly and handed over to the executive for implementation in the overall interest of the people,” he stated.
Shedding more light on the law, the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade, said it was a merger of all property and land-based rates and charges in the state.
“It is a consolidation of the ground rent, tenement rate and neighbourhood improvement levy. The owners and occupiers holding a lease to a property for 10 years or more are now liable to pay the annual charge,” Ashade stated.
The commissioner said property owners could determine the amount to be paid by multiplying the market value of their properties with the applicable relief rate of 40 per cent and the annual charge rate.
He noted that the minimum rate was only increased from N1,200 it was in 2001 to N5,000.
Ekiti Governor Unveils Multi-Billion Naira Relief Programmes Amid Economic Crisis
Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, has announced a comprehensive relief package aimed at alleviating the hardship faced by the people of the state.
The relief programs encompass various sectors to cushion the impact of the economic downturn.
One of the key initiatives entails clearing salary arrears amounting to over N2.7 billion owed to both State and Local Government workers.
This move signifies the government’s commitment to addressing the financial burdens faced by its workforce.
Furthermore, Governor Oyebanji has approved a substantial increase of N600 million per month in the subvention of autonomous institutions, including the Judiciary and tertiary institutions.
This augmentation is intended to enable these institutions to implement wage awards in alignment with State and Local Government workers’ salaries.
In addition to addressing salary arrears, the relief programs extend to pensioners, with the approval of payments totaling N1.5 billion for two months’ pension arrears.
Moreover, an increase in the monthly gratuity payment to state pensioners and local government pensioners will provide additional financial support, totaling N200 million monthly.
The relief initiatives also encompass agricultural and small-scale business sectors.
The allocation of funds for food production and livestock transformation projects underscores the government’s commitment to enhancing food security and economic sustainability at the grassroots level.
Governor Oyebanji emphasized that these relief programs are part of the state’s concerted efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of the economic downturn and foster shared prosperity.
The comprehensive nature of the initiatives reflects a proactive approach towards addressing the challenges faced by Ekiti State residents.
President Tinubu Orders Immediate Settlement of N342m Electricity Bill for Presidential Villa
President Bola Tinubu has directed the prompt settlement of a N342 million outstanding electricity bill owed by the Presidential Villa to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).
This move comes in response to the reconciliation of accounts between the State House Management and the AEDC.
The AEDC had earlier threatened to disconnect electricity services to the Presidential Villa and 86 Federal Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) over a total outstanding debt of N47.20 billion as of December 2023.
Contrary to the initial claim by the AEDC that the State House owed N923 million in electricity bills, the Presidency clarified that the actual outstanding amount is N342.35 million.
This discrepancy underscores the importance of accurate accounting and reconciliation between entities.
In a statement signed by President Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, the Presidency affirmed the commitment to settle the debt promptly.
Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila assured that the debt would be paid to the AEDC before the end of the week.
The directive from the Presidency extends beyond the State House, as Gbajabiamila urged other MDAs to reconcile their accounts with the AEDC and settle their outstanding electricity bills.
The AEDC, on its part, issued a 10-day notice to the affected government agencies to settle their debts or face disconnection.
This development highlights the importance of financial accountability and responsible management of public utilities.
It also underscores the necessity for government entities to fulfill their financial obligations to service providers promptly, ensuring uninterrupted services and avoiding potential disruptions.
Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Issues Ultimatum to 86 Government Agencies Over N47bn Debt
The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has issued an ultimatum to 86 government agencies, including the Presidential Villa, owing a collective debt of N47 billion.
The notice comes as a response to the prolonged failure of these agencies to settle their outstanding electricity bills.
According to the public notice released by the AEDC management, some of the highest debts are attributed to prominent entities such as the National Security Adviser (owing N95.9 billion), the Chief of Defence staff barracks, and military formations (indebted to the tune of N12 billion).
Also, several ministries, including the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory and the Ministry of Power, have sizable outstanding bills.
The AEDC has expressed its frustration over the inability of these government bodies to honor their financial obligations despite previous attempts to facilitate payment.
In response, the company has warned of imminent disconnection of services if the outstanding debts are not settled within 10 days of the notice.
The outstanding debts are attributed to various factors including the devaluation of the naira, cash scarcity resulting from demonetization programs, high inflation rates, removal of fuel subsidies, and foreign exchange challenges.
These financial burdens have adversely impacted the operations of the AEDC, contributing to a loss of N99 million in foreign exchange alone.
As the deadline for payment approaches, government agencies are under pressure to address their outstanding debts to avoid service disruptions.
The AEDC remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that all entities fulfill their financial obligations, underscoring the importance of prompt payment for uninterrupted electricity services.
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