The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), yesterday, led other human rights activists, including the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) and Joint Action Committee, to protest the newly introduced Land Use Charge by the Lagos State Government.
The protesters, in their dozens, defied the scorching sun as they conberged on the Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, demanding the immediate stoppage of the enforcement of the law and canvassed that it should be reviewed.
Dressed in red T-shirts with the inscription “NBA rejects oppressive taxes in Lagos State,” alleged that the government never embarked on wide consultation before the law was passed.
They were also armed with placards with inscriptions like “Lagos is not only for the rich”; “We are not selling houses, why commercial valuation?” “Land Use Charge increment is wicked, satanic and oppressive”; “Assembly members must wake up and scrap anti-people laws”; “Ambode taxes will kill the masses”.
NBA chairman, Ikeja branch, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, who read a letter that he said had been delivered to the state government, lamented that the LUC would compound the hardship that Nigerians, particularly those in the state, were going through.
He also said that taxes introduced by the present administration would further lead to job losses and cripple the economy, adding that the hike in charges would further affect cost of goods and services.
He said: “We urge that you suspend the application of Land Use Charge for immediate review now, after excessive consultation with stakeholders. We respectively convey our branches’ deep opposition to the direction of your revenue generation drive in Lagos State by way of legislation of taxes and levies, especially the Land Use Charge, as captured in the Land Use Charge Law, 2018.
“Our disagreement with the law is on three fundamental bases. And the first is that the important legislation was passed without adequate and proper consultations. Little wonder the reason for the wide furore and brouhaha over it.
“The second is that the legislation lacks legality to the extent of its apparent usurpation of the power of local government vis-à-vis the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The law provides for the delegation of powers and duties of the local government to the state, a situation in dissonance with the grundnorm of the land, that extent of inconsistency void.
“The third reason for our action is on economy. The whole purpose of the law is to achieve a phenomenal increment in property use tax in Lagos State to fund development projects and programmes in Lagos.
“However, despite the propaganda mathematics of your government, the truth is that the populace lacks the capacity to bear the tax burden now imposed. Lagos, ordinarily, is an expensive place to live in. And only the elite rich considered it a comfortable zone of existence.
“Accommodation, likewise, is hard to find and expensive for most masses who remain tenants. Therefore, stiff tax on property will only worsen the already bad situation for tenants, either residential or commercial, in the state.
“The bandwagon effect of Land Use Charge will create hyper-inflation in food, transportation and accommodation and lead to incapacitation of entrepreneurship, leading to crime increase, job losses and social insecurity.”