By FRED ITUA
All is not well between the leadership of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), and the House of Representatives Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), following a marching order issued that tenement rates should not be collected by the council.
But the defiant chairman of AMAC, Abdullahi Candido, vowed that the council was not under any obligation to obey any Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into in the past between area councils and any party where the power to collect tenement rates in Abuja was delegated to FCT Inland Revenue Service: “My government cannot allow itself to be intimidated into obeying such.”
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on FCT, Hembe had last week, ordered area councils to stop the collection of tenement levies, contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which gives the local government councils the right to do that.
Candido said any agreement entered into the past which goes contrary to the provisions of the law may have been made under outright intimidation and force by the past government which he accused of not ready to abide by the provisions of the Constitution. He argued that asking the council to put a stop on the collection within its jurisdiction amounted to undermining the rule of law and subverting its constitutional mandate.
He insisted that his council was legally recognized by the Constitution to service the grassroots and heavily depended on collection of taxes, including tenement levies in order to provide amenities to the people of the council:
“As an institution, the National Assembly that went on air to suggest stopping of the collection, I think that there is no institution that can protect the sanctity of the constitution and defend its supremacy than that hallowed chamber.”
He restated the position of the council as having legal backing and statutory function over tenements and said that it should be allowed to discharge its responsibility without any form of harassment or intimidation.
The council boss said that it wished to appeal to relevant bodies especially the National Assembly to be guided by the provisions of the constitution on the issue and to allow the rule of law prevail.
Candido disclosed that previous judgements up to the Appeal Court had expressly recognized and validated the legality and power of AMAC as the tier of government empowered constitutionally to collect the tenement rates within the area under the coverage of the council in Abuja:
“As a responsive and responsible administration, we feel it is pertinent to address the issue in order to put matters straight
“The power of AMAC to collect, demand and enforce compliance in respect to the payment of tenement rate within the are under the coverage of the council is in accordance with section 7 and the fourth schedule of the Constitution
“The Local Government Act, laws of FCT 2006 and the Taxes and Levies (Approved list for collection) Act 2004 as well as the Abuja Municipal Area Council Tenement rate collection Bye-law 2012 also lend credence to the council’s claim
“The council perfectly understands its constitutional, statutory and legal powers (by virtue of the Constitution of Nigeria, various Acts of the National Assembly including the Local Government Law adopted by the National Assembly vide Section 13 of the FCT Act Cap 128 LFN 2009 and Court of Appeal decision) and will not involve itself in any activity that is not backed up by law.”