The Ikeja branch of Nigerian Bar Association and other civil society organizations have insisted that they would go ahead with their planned protest over the increase in Lagos land use charge.
Members of NBA and leaders of some CSOs had early Tuesday stormed out of the public hearing organized by the Lagos House of Assembly to address areas of conflicts in the Land Use Charge law.
NBA Ikeja branch chairman, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana had at the public hearing demanded that the exercise be adjourned for a period of two weeks to enable Lagosians and other stakeholders study the law to make meaningful contributions for the amendment of the land use charge law.
He also said the Association and other members of the public did not have access to the law backing up the increase in land use charge which was passed by the Assembly.
Declining the demand of Ikeja NBA Chairman, Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, insisted that the law not being in public domain should not be a hindrance for contributing to the amendment.
Chairman of the ad-hoc committee on Land Use Charge (amended) 2018, Bayo Oshinowo added that the Ikeja NBA Chairman, Adesina was wrong to speak in the chamber when he was not called.
Adesina, together with some officials of CSOs led by Comrade Abiodun Aremu, Secretary of the Joint Action Front, thereafter angrily walked out of the public hearing.
Addressing journalists after, the NBA Chairman said the public hearing was another tactic to ensure that Lagosians begin to pay the exorbitant land use charge.
He added that the notice issued for the public hearing is short.
“We only want them to postpone the public hearing because it is a sham. The notice of the public hearing is ridiculously short, letters were sent to us (stakeholder) on Monday and you expect us to submit memoranda on Tuesday, which is the day of the public hearing”, he said.
He continued, “We asked for a copy of the law (land use charge), they don’t even have it for people to even buy and this is the law they have started to use to extort money from people. We asked the parliamentary too but they don’t even have a copy of the law.”
Adesina further mentioned that the issue of wrongful evaluation of houses was not addressed and power was taken away from the local government to collect tax
He, however, insisted that the branch would go ahead with its planned protest to further show its rejection of the land use charge.
On his part, Aremu said public hearing does not equate to public agreement. He also maintained that the people couldn’t be forced to pay a fee that is outrageous.
“Every bad law must not be respected. Let me make this point clear that public hearing is not the same as a public concession because the first tax of any legislature is consultation with the people. “
“You cannot hoodwink us just on the basis of a day public hearing to impose a fee we cannot pay. It is unacceptable and we must resist it at all level. You can be here but we will be on the street”, said Aremu.
He added that Lagosians, members CSOs and all other stakeholders demanding the reversal of the Land Use Charge would be joining the Ikeja branch of NBA to storm the streets in protest against the state government on the land use fee.