Stakeholders raise alarm over new Ondo land use charge
Some indigenes of Ondo State have condemned the newly introduced land use charge by the State government, describing the policy as an attempt to ‘steal the people’s land through the backdoor’.
The State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, last week, launched the Automated Land Use Charge Payment System in Akure, giving landowners three years waiver and asked them to pay 2017 arrears. The law was enacted in 2014.
Speaking on the issue, the Executive Director of Downtown Agency, Mr. Adeniyi Adeyelu, lamented that the state government acted without due consultation with professional bodies before taking such steps.
He said, “Aside the additional burdens which the programme would mete on the poor land owners and people at large, this government acted arbitrarily without necessary interfacing with the appropriate and relevant bodies.”
Adeyelu stated that the new charge lacked the basic yardsticks for measurement and assessment stressing that the policy was not properly conceived and guided to deliver development for the state.
Also reacting, an aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the North Senatorial election in 2019, Dr. Olusegun Phillips-Alonge said the law is a ploy to further exploits the people.
He lamented that all the laws that had been made in the nation for the past 20 years were made to take away rights and privileges from the people.
“I am against taking the land away from the people because when you take away the land from the people, you take away their source of living: you resist them from being able to use their own God-given land for their own wealth-creating purposes.
He noted that the law is obnoxious in nature because it would worsen the livelihood of the people in respect to the prevailing hunger and hardship in the country.
“When there is a land use act that says you don’t own the land, you cannot use it without a government approval, then you are in trouble. The approval will never come. They are prohibition laws. We have to start making laws that will enhance the lives and empower the people in their place of birth”.
On his part, the President of Movement for the Survival of the Underprivileged (MOSUP), Mr. Dappa Maharajah, described the policy as anti-people and amount to double taxing the citizens because the local government statutorily charge tenement rate, which has similarities with the land use charge.
“Taxation is not a crime against humanity, but it must be in good faith. The people must be aware and be part of the whole process. No governor elected by the people’s mandate can wake up and force policies on the people”, he said.
According to him, the citizenry and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) would be mobilized to condemn the land use charge stressing that it lacked transparency, accountability and good governance, to earn the trust of the people.
“In Lagos State, such was introduced earlier but the people resisted it, especially the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu should be prepared for such brick-wall against land use charge. Why should the people be taxed twice by the same government through the backdoor.”
Meanwhile Governor Akeredolu at the launch of the Land Use payment system held at the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), Oyemekun Model tax Station, Akure, said that it would not heap any burden on the people.
He disclosed that his government inherited the land use charge law, which has been in place since 2014. “What we are implementing is the land use charge law 2014. It is not a law that came about when we came into office; we are executing a law that has been in existence before we came into office.
“We are looking at revenue generation, building infrastructure and proper planning. My house, that of the Deputy Governor and those belonging to government officials have been captured. I call on our people to pay the little amount that are charged on their properties. It’s going to be annually”, he stated.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.