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LUC: NBA, JAF, stage walk-out at public hearing

…Stakeholders seek return to status quo

By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Ebun Sessou

lagos—Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Ikeja Branch, and members of civil Society groups on the platform of Joint Action Front, JAF, yesterday walked out a Public Hearing on the controversial Lagos State Land Use Charge, LUC, (Amendment) Law 2018, organised by a Six Man Ad-hoc Committee of the state House of Assembly, expressing dissatisfaction with the processes adopted by the Assembly.

Judges

They specifically, faulted the short notice and unavailability of the principal law in the public space for meaningful contribution on the amendment of the LUC Law 2018.

And for JAF, led by its Secretary,  Abiodun Aremu, it threatened to protest tomorrow  to show members’ grievance against the law, describing it as an  “anti-people’s law.”

Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, however, pleaded in vain with members of NBA to allow the proceeding take place stressing that issues in contention in the law  were well known.

Ogunlana Adesina, chairman, NBA, Ikeja branch, before the commencement of the hearing, demanded for postponement of the public hearing, citing what it called a 24-hour notice, sent to the association, which he claimed was too short.

Beside, Adesina stressed that the principal law had not been made available to the people, despite earlier request by NBA to the office of the Speaker of the House.

He said, “Thus, if we may be permitted to counsel, we request the adjournment of the public hearing not less than two weeks, to allow stakeholders adequacy of cognitive and comparative submissions via memoranda.’

Meanwhile other stakeholders and concerned residents who  besieged the Lagos State House of Assembly, and unanimously, rejected the  law asking Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s led administration to return to “status quo” on the LUC.

Those that submitted memoranda demanding for a return to status quo included Organised Private Sector, OPS, Civil Society, Coalition for Land Rights and Valuation Integrity in Nigeria, Lekki Residents Association, Estate Rent and Commission Association of Nigeria, Association of Town Planners, Association of Real Estate Developers of Lagos State, property owners, among others.

Several contributors questioned the law on its legality and constitutionality of the law, asking the state government to either maintain status quo on the law or cancel it outright.

Presenting the general overview of the proposed amendment to the law, Sinai Agunbiade, said among others that eight out of the 37 sections had been identified for amendment.

Also, a representative of Lekki Residents Association, Olorogun James Emadoye stressed that the new law was arbitrary, saying “Lagos State Government should revert to the status quo on the Land Use Charge. The state should expand the level of compliance of the rate rather than increasing the rate paid by the people. Lagos Assembly should spend the next nine months for consultation rather than rushing the law with an amendment.”

This was also supported by an estate valuer, Mr. Oladipupo Onabanjo, who cautioned that the law should not be retroactive, saying that it was signed in February, 2018 and takes effect from January.

Also, speaking the General Secretary of the Association of Real Estate Developer of Lagos State, Olumegbon Mutairu, asked the state government on what it is charging either the land or the houses that were built on the land.

According to him, the association has over 75 percent of houses in Lagos state providing affordable shelters for the people. The charges levelled is highly unreasonable because it will rub off negatively on the poor masses. “We are demanding for status  quo to be maintained and if the state government refuses to reverse to the initial arrangement, we will contest that in court”, he said.

Also Chairman of Estate Surveyors and Valuers in Lagos State, Mr. Olurogba Orimolade faulted the way properties were being assessed in the state, adding that this should be equivalent to the annual income of the owners.


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