March 29, 2023

Senate probes N6trn unpaid ground rent from property owners

Abuja/Keffi expressway

Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola(SAN)

By Henry Umoru, Abuja

THE Senate has begun a probe  into the N6 trillion unpaid ground rent from property owners in the states and the Federal Capital Territory, FTC, Abuja, just as it has vowed to recover the money.

Consequently, the Senate, Wednesday, set  up an ad hoc committee to carry out a holistic investigation as well as recover the over six trillion Naira accrued from the non-payment of ground rent from property owners across the country. 

The ad hoc committee will also investigate why  the Ministry of Works and Housing failed  to investigate and recover these incomes for the government.

The committee has Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi Central) as Chairman; Senators Sani Musa (APC, Niger East); Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi North); Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West); Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central); Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West) and Yusuf Abubarkar Yusuf (APC, Taraba Central) as members.

They have one month to report back at plenary.

The upper chamber is to also investigate the circumstances that led to the inability of the Land Use Act allocation committee, saddled with the responsible of handling rent and licence matter, to carry out their responsibility on the matter.

The Senate also called for a comprehensive data of federal government property that are sold to the public under the ministry of Works and Housing across the country.

Resolutions of the Senate was sequel to a motion by Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC, Taraba Central).

Senator Yusuf who came  under orders 41 and 51 of the Senate Standing Order as amended, said the Land Use Act has vested ownership rights on the Federal Government over its land in states and the Federal Capital Territory.

According to him,  the rights include the power to control and regulate town planning, and physical development in relation to such lands and by extension prescribing and collection of any tax, fees or rates.

The Senator lamented that since 1992, over two million houses across the 36 states of the federation, including FCT have been built and allocated to beneficiaries by the federal government, yet majority have no  evidence of  payment of ground rent on their properties. 

Yusuf noted that with the current revenue challenges facing the country, there is a need for the government to look into other means of generating income than relying on oil revenue.

He stated that investigation reveals that the failure of relevant authorities to recover these funds had led the country to  loosing over six trillion naira.

Senators, in their contributions, called on the Federal Government to come up with a computerised system with all allotted lands and properties, persons yet to pay and  fashion out mode of recovering these funds .