Groups flay Lagos govt on Land Use Charge

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (right), delivering his speech during the presentation of the Y2018 Budget Estimates to the House, at the Assembly Complex, Alausa, Ikeja, on Monday, December 11, 2017.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (right), delivering his speech during the presentation of the Y2018 Budget Estimates to the House, at the Assembly Complex, Alausa, Ikeja, on Monday, December 11, 2017.

Two groups, the Joint Action Front (JAF) and the United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) on Monday condemned the new land use charges recently instituted by the Lagos State Government.

A statement by JAF’s secretary, Abiodun Aremu, also said the group’s declaration of solidarity with an impending NBA Ikeja-led protest, scheduled to hold Tuesday in Ikeja, is because working people, traders, women and artisans would be greatest victims of the “wicked policy”.

The Lagos State government has come under serious attacks in the last few days following the announcement of a proposed increase in the Land Use Charge in the state.

Last week, the Ikeja NBA gave Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, a seven-day ultimatum to review the hike in the new tax regime.

The NBA said if the taxes were allowed to stay, Lagos would be a living hell for its dwellers.

JAF in its statement Monday said the hike would manifest in indiscriminate increases by “Shylock landlords of rents in homes and shops, and the attendant inflation in prices of food, goods and services”.

The statement read in part: “JAF therefore urges the working people and poor masses in Lagos to disregard and reject the propaganda being aired by Governor Ambode and his paid agents of political jobbers that there is “a good” to the law. There is nothing good about any policy meant to overtax the poor income earners and further impoverish them. Such claims are not only deceptive, but another fraudulent plot to drive the poor masses and owners of rooming houses out of the urban centres of Lagos, in order to turn Lagos into the Megacity of the rich class.

“JAF urges Lagosians to see the NBA Ikeja led protest as a wake up call to RESIST and DEFEAT all the anti-people and repressive policies of the APC Ambode Government of Lagos that daily manifests in demolition of shops and houses of the poor, unlawful arrests, extortion, detention and imprisonment of hundreds of poor masses indiscriminately arrested on both major roads and inside the streets for premeditated charges of wandering, street trading and road crossing, etc.”

Also, in a separate statement on Monday, the ULC said the new charges is a ”declaration of war against Lagosians most especially the poor”.

“We see in it a continuation of the organised onslaught of the rich and mighty against workers and the masses targeted at pushing them out of a city that was built on their sweat and blood. This is unacceptable and must immediately be withdrawn,” it said.

“We are disappointed that Ambode and the APC that rode on the back of popular slogan of making life and living better for the masses would turn around to enact such a devious law. The fulfilment of electoral promises is really a matter of morality and integrity.

“Any politician and indeed government that rides on the back of the sweet promises it made to the masses and refuses not just to implement it but deliberately goes out of its way to erect frameworks that work against the interests of the people loses the moral authority to continue occupying the seat of government.”

The review has been a source of controversies in recent weeks as many Lagosians, especially on social media, have called on the government to reverse the law.

On Wednesday, there was outrage on the social media after a screengrab emerged of the proposed law showing that a private company, Alpha Beta, was specifically mentioned as a possible consultant to be engaged in verification of land use payments to the state government.

A section of the proposed Lagos State Land Use Charge Act 2018 said, “Alpha Beta or any other designated person(s) or corporate body who has the responsibility of monitoring the incoming revenue of the state through the collecting banks, shall provide a report to the Accountant-General of the State.”

The section elicited widespread criticism from social media users, with many calling on Lagosians to be wary of the All Progressives Congress’ leadership in the state.

The state House of Assembly, however, in a swift reaction said the insertion of the company in the law ”was a mistake”.

“It was a very costly mistake that should not have happened,” Tunde Braimoh, a member of and spokesperson for the Lagos State House, told PREMIUM TIMES.

“It was erroneously put in the draft copy of the law and we’re already working to remove it completely.”

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