RESIDENTS of about 10 communities in Kwara State have accused the state Bureau of Lands of illegally imposing on them notice of payment of tenement rates on their private houses.
The communities include Araromi, Agbaridoma, Alubarika, Gaa-Saka, Alawole-Ajegunle, Iderade, Ajibesin, Madhi, Owomaraya and Surulere, all of Ita-Amon/Oke-Foma area.
But the state Bureau of Lands said it was acting within the ambit of the Land Use Act of 1978 and the state laws.
The communities, through their lawyer, Mohammed Adeniyi, asked the state to immediately halt further distribution of the said “offending letters and retrieval of the ones earlier distributed before the expiration of seven days.”
In his letter to the Director-General of the bureau, Mr. Adeniyi said that “our clients who are owners of private residential houses on the lands located in the above-named communities informed us that in the month of February, 2017, they were (and the exercise is still ongoing) individually and at different times served with notice of payment of tenement rates and other charges by officials of your establishment with respect to their respective individual houses.
“We observed and further have instruction to communicate to your establishment that the said letters as so distributed were issued without due regard to Section 7 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 15(i) of the Kwara State Local Government Law, Cap K33, 2006.
“Apart from this apparent failure to comply with relevant laws and legislations in this regard, your establishment also failed to employ contemporary approach on tax levying and tax assessment where consultation plays a key factor.”
But the bureau in its reaction said the allegation raised by the communities was unfounded and not the true position of the law, adding that it remained obedient and committed to discharging all valid and applicable obligations in the state.
According to G.R. Moyosore, on behalf of the director-general, “the demand notice on land charge/tenement rate fee law in the state is a statutory fee that has received the imprimatur of relevant laws.
“It is our considered view, albeit factual, that the laws you referred to do not prevent a mutual understanding and consensus between the local and state governments in respect of collection of tenement rates but rather strengthen the bond between the two organs of government, especially in the era of Treasury Single Account (TSA) and Kwara State Internal Revenue Service Law.”