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Lagos Land Use Charge: Stakeholders, Residents Demand Reversal

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Stakeholders at a one-day stakeholders meeting organised by the Lagos State House of Assembly on the contentious Land Use Charge Law in the state on Tuesday demanded a reversal of the new law rather than an amendment.
Speaking at the meeting, which held at the Lateef Jakande Hall in the assembly premises, the stakeholders stated that the state government had no justification for the increment.
The meeting literally became charged, when the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), led by its Chairman, Mr. Adeshina Ogunlana, called for an adjournment of the meeting and later staged a walk-out with his members.
Adeshina said “we wrote the Speaker for the adjournment of the public hearing because of the short notice. The law is not at cabinet office, when we went to check.
“There must be a paper for us to see. The law and the amendment should be published in a national newspaper with two weeks notice,” he said.
But he was pointedly cautioned by the Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa and the Chairman of the adhoc committee on the proposed amendment, Hon. Sikiru Oshinowo, who made him understand that he could make his points despite the short notice.
A representative of Lekki Residents Association, Olorogun James Emadoye stressed that the new law was arbitrary.
He observed that the people in Lekki Area of the state were being segregated, saying that they were being punished by the charges for houses in the area.
“Lagos State Government should revert to the status quo on the Land Use Charge. The state should expand the level of compliance of the rate rather than increasing the rate paid by the people.
“Lagos Assembly should spend the next nine months for consultation rather then rushing the law with an amendment,” he said.
This was also supported BH an estate valuer, Mr. Oladipupo Onabanjo, who cautioned that the law should not be retroactive, saying that it was signed in February, 2018 and takes effect from January.
Also Chairman of Estate Surveyors and Valuers in Lagos State, Mr. Olurogba Orimolade faulted the way properties were being assessed in the state, adding that this should be equivalent to the annual income of the owners.
According to Mr. Richard Olaoye, the law did not take the Nigerian constitution into consideration.
He stated that the local governments ought to be in charge of Land Use  Charge before it gets to the state government.
Another stakeholder, Mr. Babatunde Emmanuel wondered why his land use charge moved from less than N2,000 to N220,00 annually.
 A representative of National Association of Private Schools Owners Association, Mr. Joseph Idornigie urged the government to exempt private schools from land use charge.
He stated that private school owners are offering social services and that parents of the children are paying taxes and that it would double taxation if the schools should also pay taxes.
“In Nigeria, we run schools through money generated from parents and the parents pay taxes. We should abolish commercial taxes from schools as schools run social services. If the government exempt places from taxes, why not schools,” he said.
The Speaker of the House had earlier said in his keynote address that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss with the stakeholders on the issue and the way forward for the state.
Obasa however, said that it was important for the state to increase its internally Generated Revenue (IGR) as what the state government was getting from the Federal Government was too little.
“We have begged and appealed to the Federal Government to give the state a special status, but we have not been answered. The charge might appear to be outrageous, but we must remember our children. We have other bills, but we want you to always be part of this anytime we call on you.
“Our Governor is doing tremendously well. All the local governments feel his presence,  but these don’t come free and they are not cheap. Everything depends on tax, but we must not do anything that will affect the interest of our people,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Chairman of the Adhoc Committee on Land Use Charge amendment, Hon. Sikiru Oshinowo stated that it is the habit of the House to call a stakeholders meeting each time it is working on any bill or law.
He stressed that Lagos State is different from other states in Nigeria and that it is a nation within nation.
“We have moved from megacity to smartcity and we cannot do this without money. Development is not possible without financial backing, which comes through taxation.
“There was a lot of protests all over the state on land use charge and we cannot joke with your position, our party and our government on an issue like this,” he said.
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