…Says except S. Court rules otherwise
By Chris Ochayi 25-04-2018
ABUJA: The management of Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, has appealed to the property owners within the Council to continue in the exercise of their civic responsibility to pay their tenement rates.
Chairman of AMAC, Hon. Abdullahi Adamu Candido, who made the appeal against the backdrop of controversy trailing collections of the fees by the Council, urged the public to discountenance the dissenting opinion on its legitimacy on the issue.
Hon. Candido submitted that except the Supreme Court decides in the contrary, the Council is legitimately and empowered by law to collect tenement rates.
The chairman, who posited that the Council stands by verdict of Appeal Court on the issue, said, “Any other judgement delivered by any High Court in FCT on tenement rates collection contrary to the position of the Court of Appeal was of no effect since High Court cannot sit on judgment of Appeal Court.
According to him, “Our attention have been drawn to a recent judgement of a High Court of Federal Capital Territory delivered on the 12th April 2018 which held that the Abuja Municipal Area Council and the other five Area Councils have no power under the Constitution to make Bye-Laws for the collection of Tenement Rates from property owners and declared null and void the Bye-Laws of the Area Councils.
“This Press conference becomes imperative therefore, to emphasis our position that as a Council, we are legally exercising our statutory function of collection of Tenement Rates within our jurisdiction in order to provide basic infrastructure to the people.
“You would recall that in August, 2017, the National Assembly lifted the suspension earlier placed on tenement rate collection and conveyed a formal approval to FCT Area Councils for the collection of Tenement Rates within the Federal Capital Territory.
“This was after addressing the issue that led to the suspension under the provision of relevant sections of the Constitution of Nigeria and Section 13 of the Federal Capital Territory Act. CAP 128 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 as well as the judicial Authority in Court of Appeal Judgement in Afdin Ventures Ltd & 2 Others Vs Chairman Ahuja Municipal Area Council (12th May, 2014).
“In the past, there have been plethoras of judicial pronouncement giving interpretation on the legality of the collection of Tenement Rates by the Abuja Municipal Area Council.
“The Judgements have all been in favour of the Council, expressly recognizing and validating the legality and power of AMAC specifically as the tier of government/body empowered constitutionally and statutory to collect Tenement Rates within the area under the coverage of the Council in Abuja.
“Most profound was the court of Appeal Judgement between Ardin Ventures Ltd & 2 others Vs Chairman Abuja Municipal Area Council (delivered on Monday 12th May 2014) in favour of Abuja Municipal Area Council.
“We hereby state categorically, that we are a Council that is law abiding and would at all times respect constituted and judicial Authority in their order.
“The Court of Appeal is higher in hierarchy to the High Court and other lower Courts in Nigeria, and until the Supreme Court of Nigeria sets aside or varies the Judgement of the court of Appeal in the above case, that decision remains the authority as far as collection of Tenement Rates within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is concerned.
“Any other judgement delivered by any High Court in FCT on tenement rates collection contrary to the position of the Court of Appeal in Afdin Ventures Ltd & 2 Others Vs Chairman, Abuja Municipal Area Council cannot and will not operate.
“I have a team of lawyers here who will further interpret the law as it relates to this issue. We are therefore by this Press Conference, appealing to the general public especially property owners within the Council to continue in the exercise of their civic responsibility of paying promptly their tenement rates to the Council’s authority and also disregard any misleading Court ruling as respected and civilized citizens of Nigeria.
“We urge everyone to keep faith with the present administration of the Abuja Municipal Area Council as we are resolute in our commitment to developing the Council with revenues being collected.”