Lawyers Protest New Lagos Land Use Charge
Nerves are still frayed over the increase of Land Use charge in Lagos State by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
Latest to vent their grievance over the issue are members of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch.
It was total rejection for them as they on Tuesday protested the arbitrary increase of the Land Use Charge by the Lagos State Government.
The lawyers, who were joined by other civil society groups marched from the Ikeja High Court down to the State House, Ikeja to express their grievance and demanded immediate review.
The groups included the National Conscience Party (NCP) Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), the Joint Action Committee,(JAC) among others.
The protesters dressed in red T-shirt with NBA inscription rejected what they called "oppressive taxes in Lagos State" and argued that the government never embarked on wider consultation before the law was passed.
"The hike in charges will further affect cost of goods and services in Lagos State," they insisted.
The protesters, who were armed with placards, chanted several solidarity songs to express their displeasure with the new charge.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards included: “Stop killing justice in Lagos", “No to hike in Land Use Charge, LUC, CDHR", “The country is hard enough don’t add to it", “Developing Lagos to megacity and kill Lagosians with pharaonic taxes", “No to taxes without consultation" and “Lagosians commit suicide daily, stop this hardship” among others.
The lawyers had earlier given Governor Akinwunmi Ambode an ultimatum of seven days to reverse the law.
Bounce News gathered that attempt by the Commissioner of Police in the state, Imohimi Edgal, to stop the protest failed.
The Police later agreed to provide security cover for the protesters.
Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem’s attempt to persuade his colleagues at the bar to shelve the protest also failed.
The NBA chairman, Ikeja Branch, Adesina Ogunlana, who read a letter addressed to Governor Ambode decried that the taxes introduced by the present administration would further lead to job losses and cripples the State's economy.
“The bandwagon effect of Land Use Charge will create hyper-inflation in food, transportation and accommodation and lead to incapacitation of entrepreneurship, leading to crime increase, job losses and social insecurity.”
Ogunlana therefore called for a rethink and review of the Land Use Charge and other obnoxious charges, adding that the law was passed without wide consultations.
He also faulted the enactment of the law under the state government, saying the legislation usurps the power of local government.
Responding, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudasiru Obasa, assured the protesters they would respond positively to their demands soon.
Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan, said: “We have received your letter and I can assure you that we will address your demands.
"And just yesterday, I said that I am open to dialogue. I will not renege on these promises. I want to urge you to remain patient; you will receive positive response soon".
Obasa, who was also represented by Majority Leader of the House, Sanai Agunbiade, commended the protesters for being civil and peaceful, saying that their profession is noble.
He argued that if the lawyers had attended the public hearing on the bill, their input would have been included before the passage.
“I want a good relationship with the Nigerian Bar Association and the legislature. We will want you to attend our public hearings where we debate all our bills before they are passed into laws,” he said.
Agunbiade told the protesters that the request could not be attended to immediately, but that it would get to the Speaker of the House.
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