The Ikeja chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association on Wednesday called on Lagos residents to reject the reduction in the Land Use Charge rates announced by the state government.
Adesina Ogunlana, the chairman of the lawyers’ body, described the government’s move as “a calculated ploy to hoodwink the good people of Lagos State and to present a facade that Ambode government is a listening and sensitive government.”
“The reduction is a sham, a farce, and a fraud because the rates prescribed, now subjected to reduction, is based on a fraudulently extractive foundation,” Mr. Ogunlana said.
“There was no proper evaluation of properties. Property owners were never aware or involved in any evaluation of their properties. So what we had from the government is ghost evaluation.
“So when the government says it is slashing cost, they are only deceiving people: the amounts prescribed are mere fantasies of their imagination.”
The decision of the Lagos State government to review upwards the Land Use Charge payable by property owners in the state had sparked anger among civil society activists.
Last week, lawyers and activists marched in protest against the government’s “obnoxious” taxes.
In response to the public outcry, the government announced a reduction in the charges, with some property owners receiving a 50 per cent discount.
The government’s move, however, was still not well received by the civil society.
On Wednesday, Mr. Ogunlana also faulted the decision of the Lagos House of Assembly to review the Land Use Charge law to reflect the reduction by the state government.
“It is also being said that the House of Assembly is inviting Lagosians to public hearing on the so called review,” he said.
“Again we have serious objection to the modalities of this line of response. A call to a public hearing on a proposed legislation must be accompanied with a draft of the proposition sent to the invitee ahead of the hearing.
“So if the House of Assembly of Lagos State wants to do a thorough and clean job, let it be published to the world via all media the proposed amendment and give no less than a month for its study by concerned bodies before the hearing takes place.
“We reiterate our rejection of the Land Use Charge, high litigation cost in the court, borehole levies, car registration and all such other oppressive, illegal, extortionate charge of Lagos State. The Land Use Charge Law 2018 as known now must be repealed.
“Lagosians, from our own understanding and interactions are not against taxation in Lagos State and are not even against increase in taxation. However, the conditions for their acceptance of taxes are: transparent, gradual, reasonable and legally utilized.”
“No Lagosian should be in any hurry to pay the Land Use Charge.No payment should be made until the government listens and bow to the people’s will.”
Mr. Ogunlana called on the Lagos lawmakers to, within seven days, publish in newspapers, the proposed draft of the Reviewed Land Use Charge Law for interested residents and stakeholders to study for adequate participation in the public hearing.
“Where the government of Lagos neglect, fail and refuse to positively consider these conditions, the NBA Ikeja will organise and embark on another protest action on Friday, March 29, 2018, to make the government truly answerable to the electorate.”