Sesan Olufowobi and Oladimeji Ramon
The Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch, on Tuesday made good its threat to protest against the Lagos State Land Use Charge Law 2018.
The NBA was supported by the National Conscience Party, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights and Joint Action Committee, among others.
The groups stormed the Lagos State Government’s secretariat in Alausa, Ikeja, to protest against the new law, saying it had led to a hike in the levies charged by government on property.
The ‘Hell Tax Must Go’ protest started from the Lagos State Magistrate’s Court in Ikeja, from where the protesters marched to the Government House and the Lagos State House of Assembly complex in Alausa.
The protesters displayed placards, some of which read, ‘We are not selling houses,’ ‘Lagos is not only for the rich,’ and ‘Land Use Charge increment is wicked and oppressive.’
Submitting a protest letter to the Assembly, the Chairman, NBA, Ikeja branch, Adesina Ogunlana, said lawyers and members of the civil society organisations were opposed to the law, which he described as a “Pharaohoic tax regime,” asking the government to reverse it.
Ogunlana said Governor Akinwunmi Ambode must not take Lagosians who voted for him for granted by imposing heavy taxes on them.
“Must Lagos become a so-called paradise at the expense of the lives and limbs of Lagosians?
“Ambode should not let people regret voting for him the first time and go on to reject him for a second term,” Ogunlana said.
The NBA branch chairman pointed out that that taxes introduced by the present administration would further lead to job losses.
He said. “We urge that you suspend the application of Land Use Charge Law for immediate review.
“The truth is that the populace lacks the capacity to bear the tax burden imposed on them.”
Responding, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan, and the Majority Leader, Lagos State House of Assembly, Senai Agunbiade, assured the protesters that government would respond positively to their demands soon.
Bamigbetan, said, “We have received your letter and I can assure you that we will address your demands. The governor is open to dialogue.”
Agunbiade, however, pointed out that if the protesters had attended the public hearing on the bill, their input would have been included before the passage.
“However, all the state lawmakers will look at your demands and respond appropriately,” he added.