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Lagos Assembly sets up committee to review Land Use Charge

The Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday set up a six-man Ad hoc Committee to review the controversial state Land Use Charge Law, 2018.

The Speaker of the House, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, announced the committee at plenary.

“As people’s representatives, there is need to address the issues raised by the people,” he said.

The Speaker named Mr Bayo Oshinowo, Chairman, House Committee on Lands, as the Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee, which he urged to report back to the House in two weeks.

Other members of the committee include Mr Yinka Ogundimu, Chairman, House Committee on Finance and Mrs Funmilayo Tejuosho, Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Petitions.

The rest are Mr Tunde Braimoh, Chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy and Security, Mr Jude Idimogu (APC-Oshodi-Isolo II) and Mr Olusola Sokunle (APC-Oshodi-Isolo I).

Obasa said: “I am of the opinion that there is a need for us to pick up the law and look at those sections that our people perceived to be obnoxious.

“This will make us address the concerns raised by our people in Lagos State.

“We are representatives of the people and are responsible and responsive. We need to address the concerns”.

He said it was with this view that the ad hoc committee was set up to look at the law and ensure its amendment based on opinions and contributions to be received from the people at the second reading stage.

The speaker, who noted that law making is a process, frowned at the attitude of people to public hearings on bills.

“We appeal to our people to participate and contribute in the process of law making during public hearing to make their own contributions.

“This was actually done when this land use charge was in the process before passage and sending to the governor for assent.

“We invited the public but we didn’t hear much from them concerning all these concerns.

“If only they had responded at that time, probably we would have done what would be acceptable to all.

“This (the review) is another opportunity for people to be part of the process.

“The committee has been constituted to listen to them and also consider the position of government as well.

“This is because it will be very difficult to separate government from taxation. Governance has to be run based on taxes collected by the government.

“So, we have to look for ways to agree with one another on this,” he said.

Obasa said that the first and second readings of the amendment would be on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.

He said that the public hearing might be Friday or Monday.

Public outcry had followed a hike in the Land Use Charge last week, after an earlier review by the state government based on an amendment by the lawmakers.

The state government responded by lowering the rates and promised to return the law to the lawmakers for another review.

A bill for a law to establish the Lagos State Award Scheme was also read for the second time and committed to its Ad hoc Committee on Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations.

Ambode bows to Lagosians, reduces land use charge

Grants 50% Reduction On Commercial Charges, 25% For Owner-Occupier, Manufacturing Concerns
… Gives Tax Credit For Payment Already Made, Introduces Instalment Payment Plan

Following extensive deliberations with stakeholders on the new rates payable by property owners under the Lagos State Land Use Charge (LUC) Law, the State Government on Thursday announced a major reduction in the rates and as well waived the penalty for late payments across board.

The State’s Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinyemi Ashade, who disclosed this while addressing a press briefing at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa on the outcome of dialogue with stakeholders, said the rates payable on commercial properties have been reduced by 50 per cent in response to the demands of the people.

He said the government has also reduced the charges for Owner-occupier with third party including industries and manufacturing concerns by 25 per cent, while tax credits has been given for LUC charges already paid in addition to introduction of instalment payment system.

Ashade, who addressed the briefing alongside dozens of Executive Council members and top government functionaries, said the decision to reduce the rates was taken at the weekly Council Meeting held on Wednesday and Chaired by the State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.

He said: “The Lagos State Government, in its desire to build world class infrastructure and improve the well-being of its citizens reviewed the Land Use Charges payable by all property owners. This exercise was received with mixed feelings by various interest groups who expressed serious concerns.

“In line with this administration’s tradition of inclusive governance and civic engagement, and as a Government that is committed to the welfare of its citizens and understands the importance of continuously engaging the populace, we undertook extensive dialogue with various stakeholders on the Land Use Charge (“LUC”) revised Law and its implementation.

“Consequently, we received a wide range of responses from our dialogue with various stakeholders on the amended LUC Law 2018. The stakeholders included the Organised Private Sector, Nigeria Bar Association, Real estate investors & developers, Landlord & Resident Associations, Community Development Associations, Civil Society Organisations, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI), Nigeria Institute of Estate Surveyors &Valuers and several other professional groups.”

Giving a breakdown of the reduction, Ashade said for commercial property owners who were mostly affected by the amended law, a property valued at N20million for instance which was earlier billed N91,200 will now pay N45,600 per annum as a result of the 50 per cent discount, while property occupied by owner, third party and property used for industrial and manufacturing purposes will now pay N23,040 per annum on a property valued at N20million as against the earlier N30,720 based on the 25 per cent discount.

On owner-occupied property, the Commissioner explained that for a property valued at N20million, only N7,752 will now be paid per annum as against N9,120 earlier demanded based on 15 per cent discount.

He added: “Other rates and reliefs, apart from the ones stated above, will remain unchanged and will be implemented as stipulated by the Law. These include 40% general relief, 10% for 70 years and above, 10% for properties owned by persons living with disability and 10% for properties that are 25 years old and so on and so forth. Owners of Property across all categories will now be allowed to make payments by instalments. This will help to reduce the burden of taxation on our citizens.

“We appreciate and commend property owners of all categories who have performed their civic duties faithfully by paying the LUC. Consequently, as a result of these new measures, those who have paid the original amount will be awarded tax credits to the extent of the excess amount paid and carried forward to next year,” Ashade said.

He added that in a bid to create a framework to empower property owners with self-assessment, the executive would forward a regulation to the House of Assembly for review of applicable rates and regime of reliefs on categories of properties pursuant to LUC Law.

While appreciating stakeholders for trusting the current administration with the responsibility of investing the revenue from LUC in infrastructure renewal and overall development of the State, Ashade urged them to endeavor to participate effectively in the legislative proceedings going forward.

Besides, the Commissioner said the reduction would be implemented immediately as there were provisions within the LUC law which empowered the government to carry out necessary adjustment to cushion the effect of implementation.

Also, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem said under the amended law, there is provision for establishment of five tribunals out of which one has been created in Ikeja and now operational, while the remaining four would be established in other administrative divisions of the State in Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu and Lagos Island.

He said the law also makes provision for aggrieved tax payers to ventilate their grievances within forty-five days through a mediation process, adding that so far over 80 cases have been resolved through mediation.

Lagos denies increasing cost of motor vehicle registration

The Lagos State Government on Tuesday debunked rumours of increase in the cost of processing motor vehicle particulars and application for number plates, saying the rates remain the same across the State.

A statement by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan said the clarification became necessary in response to enquiries by members of the public who are genuinely concerned about the rumours of increases in charges relating to the motor vehicle administration.

Bamigbetan said anyone with evidence of any increase in motor registration rates from any of the official Centres managed by the Lagos State Motor Vehicle Administration Authority (MVAA) should report to the agency or the Ministry of Transportation.

According to him, “Although, the cost of maintaining the roads and expanding infrastructures which ease the operations of vehicles is enormous, the Lagos State Government shall continue to bear the burden of keeping the roads motorable and safe for all users.”

He said some mischief makers were desperately exploiting the challenges posed to the government by the new Land Use Charge Law which seeks to raise more money for the provision of public infrastructures for the benefit of all, to misinform the public.

It would be recalled that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had also debunked insinuations that many tax items were reviewed upward, saying that the claim was not true.

Speaking to journalists after leading a symbolic walk against sexual and domestic violence on Monday in Alausa, Governor Ambode said his administration was very sensitive to the people, and would not go all out to deliberately overburden them. 

“I want Lagosians to understand one particular issue. We have over 300 tax items for which nothing has been touched apart from this Land Use Charge and maybe one other. But again, we are a very responsive government; we are very sensitive because at the end of the day, governance is about the people; it is about what they want.

“Yes, people might like that infrastructural development is on the progressive chart in Lagos but also it comes with a price. But notwithstanding in the middle of all that, a responsive government will listen to the yearnings of her people.

“At the end of the day, it’s all for the development of Lagos. What this government is interested in is to create a trajectory and framework of permanent prosperity for Lagos. It is not about today, it is about the future and if there is going to be permanent prosperity in Lagos, some things have to be done but I can tell you based on the dialogue and the things we have been receiving on the Land Use Charge, obviously we would respond positively to those yearnings,” Governor Ambode said.  

 

Lagos lawyers reject land use charge

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, has rejected the upward review of the land use charge by the administration of Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos.

The law wants a property solely occupied by the owner for a residential purpose to be charged at a rate of 0.076 percent per annum.

Also, a property occupied by the owner and tenant(s) or third parties will be charged 0.256 percent per annum, while an investment property fully occupied by tenants or third party(ies) for revenue generation will be charged at 0.76 percent per annum.

The lawyers had earlier given Ambode an ultimatum of five days to reverse the law.

Following the refusal of the governor to accede to their request, the lawyers, who were joined by other civil society groups, assembled at the Bar Centre inside the Lagos high court, Ikeja, on Tuesday morning, from where they marched through Ikeja to the state house of assembly and governor’s office.

“The purpose of this march is to make the government have a rethink on this land use charge and all other obnoxious and excessive taxes on Lagos residents,” Adesina Ogunlana, chairman of the association said while addressing his co-protesters.

He added that they have prepared two letters for the governor and the speaker of the house of assembly. “If they receive us, fine, if they don’t, we will drop the letters on their doorsteps.”

Speaking on the protest, Inibehe Effiong, human rights lawyer and a member of the association, described the land use charge as abominable and “totally unacceptable”.

“The point of contention is not whether the Lagos government has the statutory power to impose land use charge, what we are questioning is the percentage of increment which is totally abominable,” he said.

“What the new charge says is totally unacceptable to the people of Lagos,” Effiong said.

“This is a state that is notorious for over taxation. This is a government that taxes us even for having our private boreholes. You tax us for everything, and you are coming again to increase land use charge without commensurate increment in the standard of living of the people of Lagos state.”

Under rules governing the distribution of the Lagos land use charge, Alpha Beta, a private firm, was listed as a corporate body responsible for monitoring the incoming revenue through the collecting banks.

Reacting, Effiong said it is very shameful on the part the governor.

Weighing in on the matter, Malachi Ugwumadu, a lawyer and president, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, told TheCable that there are so many aspects of the law that are murderous.

“One is the height of insensitivity,” he explained. “A government that resolves that the only way to mobilse funds to deal with its exigencies is to further impoverish and dehumanise the people already overtaxed, lacks human face in its policies. The aspect of it that also speaks to the percentage of increase is unfortunate.

“We as lawyers have resolved to move our motions on the streets now, and thereafter there will be a great swell of legal litigation to put this within the context of the law, and challenge the propriety of such exorbitant charges.”

Ugwumadu challenged the government on the need to look inward and find a solution to the issue.

“We will abide by the laws, but we don’t want to be over squeezed with these taxations,” he said.

The protesting lawyers said government keeps increasing taxation, and when they say the money generated would be used for development, they are not been truthful.

“Look at the poor state of everything in the state. If you say you want to use the money for local government development, then show us evidence that the existing tax policy is working, that the existing taxation has been utilized for the benefit of every average person in Lagos,” one of the lawyers told TheCable while they marched on.

Although Ambode had called for dialogue on the matter, the lawyers accused him of refusing to listen to their demand.

“As a commencement of negotiation, let the house of assembly, without delay repeal the law. When the law is repealed, you can now call us to a stakeholders’ dialogue,” another lawyer said.

“But you have enacted the law and you are in the process of enforcement, and now calling for dialogue? You are insulting the intelligence e of the people of Lagos. You cannot negotiate an existing law.  Let them suspend the implementation of the law, until that is done, there will be no evidence of good faith on the part of the government that they are willing to dialogue or listen to us.”

Lagos Land Use Charge: LCCI says default penalties are too harsh

Sanctions to defaulters under the reviewed land use charge (LUC) of Lagos are too severe and not in tandem with democratic ideals.

Babatunde Ruwase, president of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), made the observation during a stakeholders’ forum on Friday.

He said while the chamber would not encourage or support any form of infractions of the law, the sanctions must be proportional and fair.

Land use charge law stipulates a 25 percent increase in charge if payment was not made between 45 and 75 days.

It also prescribed a 50 percent increase after 105 days and a 100 percent increase if payment cannot be made between 75 to 105 days.

The law prescribed that a property shall be liable to enforcement if payment is not made after 135 days of notice.

“There would be instances where the citizens are willing to pay, but just do not have the capacity to pay, given the state of the economy,” Ruwase said.

“The Nigerian economy is only just gradually recovering from recession. Many companies are yet to return to profitability. Industrial capacity utilisation has declined, purchasing power is still very weak, occupancy rate in many commercial and residential properties are still very low.

“All of these have adversely impacted the returns on investment in property market and points to the fact that current market value of property may not necessarily reflect the rental income for the property.”

He said only 300, 000 property were paying the charge, while 700,000 property were identified for tax payment.

According to him, emphasis should be on getting more property into the tax net, rather than imposing additional burden on those currently on the database.

He urged the government to explore the platform presented by VAIDS to capture more property owners into the net.

Ruwase suggested that implementation of the law be suspended, while the grey areas should be sorted out in the interest of fairness, equity and natural justice.

According to him, there is no evidence to show that adequate dissemination of information to critical stakeholders was followed and conditions stipulated for law review occurred before implementation of the law.

He said stakeholders were concerned that assessed value used for computation of the law was high and difficult to justify.

According to him, the business community appreciates government’s efforts in investing in infrastructure and security and businesses are willing and ready to pay their tax.

He appealed to the government to create a tax environment that would be fair, equitable, inclusive, transparent and investment friendly.

Akinyemi Ashade, Lagos state commissioner for finance, said the law aimed at entrenching a regime of self-assessment, would allow property owners to make their own calculation and know their rate with the help of professional valuers.

According to him, property of N10 million and below constitute 75 percent of property owners in the state and are expected to pay N5000 per annum as land use charge.

Ashade said that the new law also established an assessment appeal tribunal which authorised the adoption of alternative dispute resolution in resolving disputes concerning LUC demand notice provided the appeal was lodged within 30 days after the receipt of the notice.

UK to build £700,000 prison in Lagos — to send Nigerian prisoners back home

The United Kingdom has proposed to build a prison in Nigeria to enable the transfer of Nigerian prisoners in Britain.

The proposed 112-bed wing is to be built to United Nations specifications in the Kirikiri prison, Lagos.

The prison, according to a statement submitted to Parliament by Boris Johnson, UK secretary of state for foreign affairs, is estimated to cost £700,000.

According to Sky News, the project is part of a compulsory prisoner transfer agreement which both countries signed in 2014.

Johnson said poor conditions in some prisons overseas have created a legal barrier to returning foreigners convicted in the UK.

“As part of this agreement, eligible prisoners serving criminal sentences in Nigeria and the UK can be returned to complete their sentences in their respective countries,”Johnson said.

Deals to transfer prisoners in UK jails to their countries of origin have also been made with Albania, Rwanda, Jamaica and Libya.

“The government believes that wherever possible foreign nationals should serve their sentences in their own country,” a foreign office spokesperson told Sky News.

“Helping Nigeria to improve its prison conditions and increase prison capacity will enable us to transfer more prisoners to Nigeria, which will, in turn, free up prison places in the UK.”

 

Lagos APC rejects extension of Oyegun’s tenure

The Lagos state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has kicked against the elongation of the tenure of the party’s national and state executives, saying it is against the constitution.

Rising from a consultative forum held at state house Marina, Lagos and attended by party elders from across the state, the leaders said the extension of the tenure of John Oyegun, chairman of the party, and his executives by one year is also against Nigeria’s constitution.

“Section 223 of the 1999 constitution as amended provides for periodical election on a democratic basis for principal officers and members of the executive committee of political parties,” the party said in a statement.

“According to the constitution, election of the officers or members of the executive committee of a political party will be deemed to be periodical if done at regular intervals not exceeding four years.

“Article 17 of the party’s constitution also provides for a four-year tenure for its national and state executives, which is renewable for another four years.”

Tajudeen Olusi, leader of the party in Lagos central senatorial district, later addressed reporters.

We have taken reports of the state APC chairman in respect of the NEC meeting held in Abuja. We have also had the privilege of receiving great reports from our leader from the reconciliation committee,” he said.

“We have considered the issue of extension of tenure and we are of the firm belief that the decision is a breach of the constitution of our party and of the country. We are against the elongation of tenure. We shall continue to make our decision known to the party and to the president.

“In extending the tenure, the APC National Executive Committee had relied on Article 13.3 (ii) of its constitution which states that The NEC can discharge the functions of the convention in a period of emergency.
Article 13.3 (ii) of APC Constitution specifically states that the NEC of the party is empowered to;

“Discharge all functions of the National Conventions as constituted in between Conventions”.

“But the provision in Article 13.3 (ii) is not limitless and open-ended. It is a responsibility restricted by the same constitution, which provides exclusively under Article 30 (i) that: “This Constitution and Schedules hereto can be amended only by the National Convention of the Party.”

Lagos, Kano sign MoU for economic partnership

The Lagos and Kano State Governments on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for economic partnership and to jointly explore investment opportunities aimed at creating jobs and facilitating growth and development.

The MoU, which was signed by Governors Akinwunmi Ambode and Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Lagos and Kano States respectively, at the closing ceremony of the inaugural Lagos-Kano Economic and Investment Summit held at the Jubilee Chalets, Epe, seeks to create a common platform for exploring, expanding and developing areas of economic development and Investment.

According to the MoU, the two states agreed to expand the current level of economic and investment cooperation between them especially in key areas of Governance, Security, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Agricultural Value Chain, Tourism, Education, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Skills Development.

Other areas include commerce with specific focus on ease of doing business and Infrastructure in Power, Transportation and Urban Waste Management.

The objectives of the MoU, among others, are to establish a formal and flexible framework between the two ctates to expand trade and investment cooperation, foster scientific and technological collaboration for business development in emerging key sectors, strengthen communication, enhance trust, boost economic development and create jobs.

Under the agreement, the two ctates have also set up a Technical Working Group to oversee the implementation of the objectives of the MoU.

In her closing remarks, Lagos State Deputy Governor, Idiat Adebule, said the signing of the MoU by Governor Ambode and Governor Ganduje was a clear testament of the commitment of both States to collaborate in the overall best interest of the people.

She said the two governors, by the development, “are telling the entire world that collaboration, cooperation, partnership can always work to bring about economic sufficiency in our States and off course the entire nation.”

While describing the summit as historic and successful, Mrs. Adebule said the programme witnessed presentations from experts, erudite minds, scholars from both public and organised private sector with numerous positions expressed and outlined .

She said: “In this process, our minds have been availed with torrents of ideas, information, statistics, interpretation and above all vision and collaboration leading to economic sufficiency.

“I am convinced that the most valuable outcome of this engagement is the fact that we have Governors who have vision and have the opportunity of sharing this vision. Today, we are not just sharing the vision but providing an enabling environment for this vision to be actualised.

“Today, we have the political will; today, the political will has been demonstrated and it signifies the fact that we are ready for business. Lagos and Kano mean business and we are ready for business,” the deputy governor said.

Five injured as Delta Air Lines flight makes emergency landing in Lagos

Delta Air Lines flight 55 from Lagos to Atlanta, United States returned to the Murtala Muhammed  International Airport onTuesday night after an issue with one of the A330-200’s two engines.

The flight which was said to have initially pushed back at 22:40hrs had air return and emergency landing at 23:16hrs, when the pilot announced the evacuation of all the passengers on board within 90 seconds, after contacting the control tower as the left engine of the aircraft was said to have caught fire mid air in-flight.

According to the airline, the flight landed safely and customers exited the aircraft on the runway via emergency slides, adding that airport fire authorities met the aircraft upon arrival.

The airline said in a statement, “Delta is aware of five customers reporting non-critical injuries as a result of the evacuation.

“Delta teams have provided overnight hotel accommodations to customers and will rebook customers on an alternate Delta aircraft on Wednesday. The safety of Delta’s customers and crew members is always our top priority.”

 

NNPC restores Escravos-Lagos pipeline, resumes gas supply

The Escravos-Lagos Pipeline (ELP) which came down last week as a result of a fire incident has been restored and gas supply to customers on the line including power generating companies resumed.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which disclosed this Monday said the repair work on the pipeline followed the directive by the Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, to carry out an assessment of the damage with a view to getting a prompt solution.

It would be recalled that a section of the ELP at Abakila in Ondo State blew up in flames on January 2, 2018 as a result of bush fire.

The incident affected gas supply to customers in Ondo, Ogun and Lagos States with subsequent shutdown of a number of power plants.

With the restoration of the ELP and resumption of gas supply, the affected power plants with a combined generating capacity of 1,143MW would resume power generation.

The power plants include: Egbin Power Plant in Lagos State; Olorunshogo Power Plant, PEL Olorunshogo and Paras Power Plant in Ogun State; and Omotosho Power Plant in Ondo State.

The 36-inch Escravos to Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS) is a natural gas pipeline built in 1989 to supply gas from Escravos in the Niger Delta to various consumption utilization areas.

It supplies gas to power plants in the South-west and also feeds the West African Gas Pipeline System.

Lagos to restrict vehicular traffic at Pen Cinema from January 4

The Lagos State Government on Monday announced plans to enforce partial restriction of movement for motorists in Agege axis to accelerate the ongoing construction of Pen Cinema Flyover starting from January 4, 2018.

In a statement by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Engr Olujimi Hotonu, the State Government said there would be a complete closure of the roads in the axis at some point during the construction but that it would start with partial restriction of movement.

While assuring that adequate arrangements have been firmed up to mitigate the impact of the closure of the roads on motorists and residents, Hotonu said traffic diversion routes have been created to ensure ease of movement along the corridor.

He said the construction of the flyover across the Pen Cinema intersection at Agege embarked upon by the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was part of the continuous drive to ease traffic within the metropolis and improve on the State economy.

According to him, “To ease the construction of the Pen Cinema flyover, the State Government will be diverting traffic at the Pen Cinema intersection starting from Thursday, January 4, 2018.

Hotonu further said that the restriction of movement is expected to last for an estimated period of three and six months to enable the contractor take full advantage of the weather and space to deliver seamlessly the critical aspect of the flyover construction that falls within the Pen Cinema roundabout and railway crossing at Old Abeokuta Road junction.

“The routes for the diversion for the flyover are as follow; Vehicles coming from Ogba/Oba Ogunji except Articulated vehicles are expected to come in through Ijaiye Low Cost Housing Estate to link Iju Road, while Articulated Vehicles and other vehicles plying this axis have the option of either turning right towards Iju Road at the Pen Cinema intersection or left towards Moshalashi Alhaja.

“Similarly, vehicles coming from Iju Road should go towards Moshalashi Alhaja or turn towards Oba Ogunji/ Ogba as the turning towards the right to the Railway crossing will remain closed.

Continuing, Hotonu said there would be a complete closure of the road for vehicles coming from Moshalashi Alhaja towards the Railway crossing, while vehicles coming from Moshalashi Alhaja axis would be expected to either move towards Iju Road or turn right towards Oba Ogunji/Ogba Road.

“All vehicles coming from Old Abeokuta Motor Road are enjoined to go straight towards Agege Motor Road or turn right towards Afa Nla/Oke Koto roads, while vehicles coming from Agege Motor Road are enjoined to go straight towards Old Abeokuta Motor Road or turn into Afa Nla/Oke Koto roads. No vehicle from these axes will be allowed to pass through the Pen Cinema intersection,” Hotonu said.

While regretting the inconveniences the partial restriction would cause motorists and residents, the State Government appealed for caution and cooperation with traffic and security personnel deployed to ease their movement, noting that the ultimate goal of the plan is to make life easy and improve traffic along the corridor.

$1bn: APC funded 2015 Presidential campaigns with stolen money from Lagos, Rivers

 

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has challenged the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, party and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to deny that the APC’s 2015 presidential campaigns were not funded with stolen money from Lagos and Rivers states.

The opposition party also described as a diversionary tactic employed by APC and Mohammed to deceive Nigerians, a statement saying PDP is rebranding with stolen funds.

A statement signed by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Sunday, however said that APC should rather address issues it (PDP) raised on why the planned withdrawal of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account, ECA, to fight Boko Haram insurgency is a ruse. PDP also described as inexcusable, the move to withdraw the said $1bn from ECA, maintaining it is an attempt to pilfer the country’s funds by APC to finance partisan activities.

The statement also said that haven failed Nigerians, especially by subjecting them to untold hardship, the APC has resorted to a renewed “wild allegations and cheap blackmail against the PDP” in another wave of attempts to divert the minds of Nigerians away from its failed governance.

The PDP, which insisted that the Federal Government must address the issues it raised, noted that “the attempt by the APC Federal Government to divert attention from the fraud, by resorting to unsubstantiated allegations against the PDP only reinforces its manipulative tendencies and arrogant spurn to the sensibilities of Nigerians.”

It said only the APC-led government has access to public funds in the country and hence, there is no way PDP could be rebranding with stolen funds. Challenging Mohammed to explain the sources of APC’s 2015 campaign funding, the PDP also demanded the APC-led federal government to come clean on the issue of the $1bn Excess Crude money.

The statement partly reads thus: “such wild allegation was only intended to divert public attention from the heavy sleazes under the current administration, the latest being the moves to use the fight against terrorism as a conduit to siphon public funds for partisan purposes.

“The Federal Government has failed to address issues raised by the PDP and majority of Nigerians, including APC members, who cannot fathom how this administration would want to expend N365bn on fighting insurgents it claimed had been technically defeated. “It is indeed appalling that rather than being remorseful, the APC Federal Government has renewed its wild allegations and cheap blackmail against the PDP.

“It is a clear to all that the PDP do not have access to public funds and cannot be rebranding with stolen money. Instead, we are rebranding on the grace of the general goodwill of Nigerians who have suffered untold hardships in close to three years of APC government.

“While we understand the nervousness of the APC Federal Government over our rebranding and the renewed popularity of the PDP, which has signalled their inevitable death knell, resorting to outlandish allegations will not help them as Nigerians have since seen through such old-fashioned propaganda and gimmicks.

“We are however not surprised by this diversionary and deceptive approach from the APC government; a government whose officials have since become notorious for dishing out falsehood to Nigerians to cover their incompetence and corrupt tendencies.

“This is the same minister of information, who in a press conference in Abuja, in 2016, promoted allegations that 55 people stole a total of N1.34 trillion; that 5 former governors stole N146.8 billion; that 4 former ministers stole N7 billion. All these have remained unsubstantiated.

“While we challenge this Government to come clean on the issue of the $1bn Excess Crude money, we also challenge the minister of information to comment on allegations that the APC funded its 2015 presidential campaign with stolen public funds, particularly from Lagos and Rivers states.

“He should also waste no time in commenting on allegations of corruption against their former SGF, Babachir Lawal, the Mainagate and other heavy sleazes going on unabated under the current APC-led administration.”

2019: No automatic ticket in Lagos APC, says Ajomale

Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman Otunba Oladele Ajomale yesterday said the party will not give automatic ticket to its elected functionaries in the executive and legislature for 2029 elections.

He said the party would continue to nurture and defend the institutions which give content, form and predictability to democracy.

Reflecting on his tenure, the chairman said he was fortunate to lead the political family to victory on three occasions, stressing that his successor will also cope and survive through hard work and prayers.

Ajomale spoke at the party office along Acme Road, Ogba, Ikeja on the performance of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the party’s interface with the administration, the agitation for special status by Lagos and preparations for future elections.

He paid tribute to Ambode for his giant strides, saying he had done the party proud by building on the foundation built by his predecessors, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

He said Ambode had converted Lagos in a huge construction site, adding that his achievements are visible in many critical sectors, including education, health, transportation and other forms of social welfare.

Ajomale also praised the state and federal lawmakers on the platform of the Lagos APC for their sense of mission and accountability, singling out Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) as an embodiment of accountability and fidelity to the chapter.

However, Ajomale said there will be no automatic ticket for any elected functionary, maintaining that the democratic system of selection would be adopted to pick flag bearers.

The chairman said the party is monitoring those who got to public offices on its platform by insisting that they should toe the party line and implement its campaign promises to the electorate.

He said hardworking, disciplined and loyal elected officials will secure ticket at the primary where they will receive the votes of delegates, adding that they have nothing to fear.

He said the party will insist on the constitutional and legitimate method of picking candidates, even where many of the candidates are unopposed.

Ajomale said: “There will be no automatic ticket for anybody. Those who have worked hard have nothing to fear. We are building institutions of democracy. We will employ the constitutional method to select and observe internal democracy. Even, if the person is standing unopposed, we will still pass through the process.”

The chairman chided people for perceiving politics as a veritable occupation, instead of using their certificates, brains and hands on other productive ventures. He said the struggle for few elective slots by many aspirants have led to participation crisis, do-or-die politics and politics of bitterness.

The chairman revisited the agitation for a special status for Lagos, urging the Federal Government to accord priority to the agenda.

He hailed Senator Oluremi Tinubu for spearheading the clamour in the National Assembly and called for the understanding of other legislators to achieve the goal.

Two major Lagos bridges to be demolished

Two major overhead bridges in Lagos metropolis at Jibowu – Yaba and Costain – Surulere, are to be demolished to give way to the new rail line being constructed by the Federal Government in the state.

The Federal government has also said that it will complete the construction of the Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge Railway line by June next year.

These disclosures were made by the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi at Papalanto in Ogun State after the inspection of the on-going construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway line.

The Minister noted that provision had been made in the 2018 budget for the completion of the project  meant to facilitate the movement of goods across the country.

He further said that the completion of the project would boost the manufacturing of steel at the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill.

Regarding the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway line he noted that the acquisition of the Right of Way would be completed by January next year while the laying of tracks would commence by April 2018.

According to him, there have been various challenges faced in the clearing of the Right of Way such as gas pipelines, water logged terrains, high tension electricity wires and overhead bridges adding that  discussions were on-going with the relevant agencies and organizations with a view to relocate the pipelines and reconstruct the bridges as the case may be.

He disclosed that already, the Lagos state government has approved the demolition of the Jibowu and Costain flyovers to pave way for the construction of the standard gauge railway line.

Amaechi posited that prior to the demolition of the flyover at Jibowu a new bridge will be constructed by the contractors of the Rail project while traffic will be diverted at Costain.

Lagos to begin bursary, scholarship disbursements

The Lagos State Government has concluded plans to commence disbursements of bursaries and scholarships before the end of the month of December.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh said Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had given approval for the disbursement, adding that it was in line with the continued commitment of his administration to ensure that Lagos State students continue to thrive and excel in the academic field.

“Our commitment to education across the sphere is unparalleled, but specifically, with regard to tertiary education, this administration over the past two and a half years has been deliberate about increasing the capacity of our institutions,” Bank-Olemoh said.

The Special Adviser said that despite the challenging economic situation across the country, Governor Ambode has continued to invest in a range of initiatives to upgrade the status of institutions in the State.

He recalled that in 2016, there was an increase in subvention for all the State’s tertiary institutions, while innovative programs such as Ready.Set.Work were launched to equip final year students with entrepreneurship and employability skills for the world of work.

Bank-Olemoh disclosed that to date, a total of 2,500 final year students have trained and exited into the workforce; and up 10,000 students in their penultimate year have participated in the Ready.Set.Work online program (www.readysetwork.com.ng), which qualifies them for the full-fledged program in their final year.

Besides, Bank-Olemoh added that the CodeLagos, a program aimed at teaching coding skills to one million Lagos residents, has entered its next phase, with centers opened across the State to train interested learners at no cost to them.

“These initiatives demonstrate this administration’s unalloyed commitment to the welfare of our students. In view of this administration’s investment towards their success, we urge our students to make the most of these opportunities and continue to be good ambassadors of Lagos State,” the Special Adviser said.

Lagos to establish early intervention centre for children with special needs

 

Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Sunday said plans are underway to establish an Early Intervention Centre in 2018 to provide therapy and educational support services for infants and young children with special needs.

The centre, according to the Governor, will enable the State Government equip such children with necessary skills and help develop their potential, thereby overcoming identified developmental delays as far as possible.

Speaking at a programme put together by the Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs (LASODA) to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) held at Adeyemi Bero Auditorium in Alausa, the Governor also assured that more people with disability would be employed into the State civil service in 2018.

“Our administration is making plans to establish an Early Intervention Centre for the provision of therapy and educational support services for infants and young children with special needs. This will enable us equip these children with necessary skills and help develop their potential, thereby overcoming identified developmental delays as far as possible,” he said.

While urging Nigerians to always embrace people in such situation and look out for their welfare, Governor Ambode said it was important for the general public to refrain from looking down on them but rather look out for their good qualities.

According to him, “I urge the general public to always embrace People Living With Disabilities and always look out for the good qualities God has deposited in them.”

The Governor, who recalled his promise to deliver an all-inclusive government in which no one would be left behind, said the event was another opportunity to reaffirm the policy stance of his administration, just as he assured that the welfare and well-being of PLWDs would always be a priority.

He said the theme of this year’s celebration – “Transformation Towards Sustainable And Resilient Society For All” was apt and in tandem with his vision which is to enable people with disability become active contributors in the society.

He said: “As a government, it is very critical to us to ensure the effective integration of people living with disabilities, especially in today’s changing world.

“For us in Lagos State, we see ability in disability always. We believe strongly that the socio-economic integration of persons with disabilities is not only a human right but also a prerequisite for sustainable development. Our experience has shown that when people with disabilities are adequately empowered to participate in and lead the process of development, their entire families, communities and even the larger society will benefit.

“As a result, we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to ensure a more comfortable socio-economic status for these members of our community by providing them with various opportunities.”

While reeling out some of the interventions of his administration, the Governor said a total of 250 PLWDs were recently employed into the State’s Civil Service, Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas, while more of such people would be employed next year.

Similarly, 500 persons have also benefitted from the State Government’s special empowerment programme drawn from the N500million Special People’s Fund established by the Ambode administration, while various assistive technologies, mobility aids and financial grants were given to 2,000 persons living with disabilities and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) involved in taking care of such categories of people.

“As a government, we will continue to embark on initiatives to improve the quality of lives of our people. We will always work to develop the productive capacity of persons with disabilities and give them opportunities to play a role in socio-economic growth of our State,” he said.

Restating the fact that there is ability in every disability, the Governor charged PLWDs not to allow any circumstance limit their progress and life aspirations, adding that they must strive to achieve the best in everything and command respect from people in the society.

In his lecture at the event, President of Benola Cerebral Palsy Foundation, AVM Femi Gbadebo commended Governor Ambode for his numerous initiatives geared toward upholding the rights and welfare of PLWDs such as N500million Disability Fund and various empowerment programmes.

Also, Chairperson of Lagos State Chapter of Joint National Association of Persons With Disability, Deaconess Beyioku Adedoyin and Dr Adebayo Adebukola of Human and Organizational Resources Development Centre commended the State Government for prioritizing the welfare of PLWDs, saying that the State had become a reference point for positively handling disability affairs and development.

At the event, awards were given to various caregivers and NGOs involved in disability affairs, while there were also performances by groups of disabled people including Divine Melody Makers Band, Down Syndrome Society and Wesley School for the Deaf and Hearing Impairment.

Late night fire guts shops in Gowon Estate in Lagos

A late night inferno that raged into early Tuesday morning gutted five of eight shops attached to a Union Bank building on 411 Road Junction, Gowon Estate, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Egbeda.

The fire was noticed at the make- shift shops at about 11.20 pm, shortly after electricity supply was taken by the providers, Ikeja Electric.

However, many of the shop owners had closed and gone home as some of them do not reside in the estate but those resident salvaged some of their goods with the assistance of the youth.

NAN reports that the youth had brought down the fire before the arrival of the men of the Lagos State Fire Service from Agege.

Before their arrival which took about an hour, it was wailing and lamentations by the residents and sympathisers who urged the state government to install water hydrants and fire notices all over the estate.

They also lamented that some of the areas marked for the development of infrastructure for sports, fire service stations and recreation had been sold to individuals by the FHA.

“The areas meant for these purposes have been built up. The last is the Kuwait Field which used to house sports facilities, including football, basketball, tennis and others had been appropriated by land grabbers.

“It has now become a shopping complex cum estate within an estate.

“It is regrettable that the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government are not doing much to ensure that the youth have their future their own way,’’ a resident told NAN anonymously.

A resident of the Union Bank building, who does not want his name in print, told NAN that most of the shop owners did not leave in the estate, adding that the cause of the fire has not been identified.

He commended the efforts of the residents, including the youth in containing the fire before the arrival of the men of the fire service who eventually quenched the raging fire.

One of the leaders in the estate, Alhaji Daud Oyebanji, also commended the youth for coming out en masse to contain the fire.

Oyebanji said that the youth ensured that there was no looting of the salvaged items from the burnt and unburnt shops.

Meanwhile, a dry cleaning shop, a mini-cold room as well as a provision shop run by an octogenarian had every item in them destroyed by the inferno.

The Fire Service Officer who led the rescue team, Mr Julius Adewuya, said: “We responded immediately we were called.

“The timing of the call was good because there was no traffic but we had hitches getting into the estate because of bad roads. The roads are near impassable but we managed to come for the rescue.

“Equally on arrival, we discovered that there were not enough notices for the people to know which service point is nearest to them to call.

“`We appeal to the residents of this estate to invite us to enlighten them on when and how they could get timely assistance from the fire service,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) arrived after the fire had been put out but they also helped to ensure the fire was totally controlled.

Also mean of the Nigeria Police, Gowon Estate Division, were also on ground to provide security. (NAN)

Lagos to shut down Oba Akran Avenue in Ikeja for street carnival

 

The Lagos State Government said plans have been concluded to stage this year’s edition of the Lagos Street Carnival scheduled to hold on December 3 on Oba Akran Avenue in Ikeja.

The Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon Adebimpe Akinsola, in an interview with journalists, said the venue of the carnival would be shut down but adequate preparations have been made for alternative routes to mitigate the impact of the road closure on motorists and residents.

Dubbed, “Lagos Street Party’’ in its maiden edition last year, the event has grown into a carnival to mark the start of the Ministry’s end of the year activities.

It is also designed to celebrate the multi-cultural nature of Lagosians and reposition the State as a formidable cultural destination.

Speaking on security arrangements already put in place, Akinsola said, “To this end, several adjoining roads would be closed on the day of the carnival while alternative routes could be accessed by road users.

“We like to assure Lagosians and visitors that efforts are in place to ensure that the venue and environs are safe and incident-free.

“We expect more visitors this year and a lot more will be coming. In terms of security and crowd control, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is not working alone. We are working with the police, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Fire service, LASAMBUS and the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA). All of them are onboard and people are not going to see Oba Akran on Monday in a dirty state,’’ Akinsola said.

While giving details about the carnival, Akinsola said: “Last week, we rolled out our end of the year programme. The Lagos street carnival is to herald the yuletide season. When you talk of carnival, it is to showcase all the diversity of cultures in Lagos State.

“There is going to be an overflow all through Oba Akran; people dancing, eating, showcasing diverse cultures from different local governments and other estate groups that are resident in Lagos State.

“That was how it was done on the Island and this year we are bringing it to the mainland and of course next year, we would be looking at another location because the aim of government is to take this carnival all round Lagos. It is not a programme that would be static, but would move round across Lagos State, why because the Governor in his acceptance as the helmsman of the State promised Lagosians that he is going to run an all inclusive government where no one would be left behind, not in infrastructure alone, but in every sense of governance and he has been doing that systematically since he assumed office,” she said.

She added that through Project THESE, which stands for Tourism, Hospitality Entertainment and Arts and Sports to achieve that Excellence, the State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode had been turning around the State and ensuring excellence in the true sense of the word.

According to her, “Through the project, the Governor changing the narrative of Lagos as a tourism destination.

“The carnival is not only just for adults alone, the children will have their own corner where they can have fun. We have engaged a lot of artistes from different genres not only hip hop; we have hip hop artistes, Fuji, Waka, Juju, Gospel and the best of it and at the same time we have cultural groups that would be on display on that day. The carnival will start from 12 noon all through 12 midnight.

“Apart from coming to enjoy yourself, I know that small scale businesses will have the opportunity to showcase their businesses. So, aside creating an enabling environment for entertainment, we are also creating a vehicle for people in business to sell their wares, Akinsola said.

The line-up of artists include Olamide, Lil Kesh, Queen Salawa Abeni, Malaika, Tope Sax amongst others.

The Lagos Street Carnival is powered by the private sector to ensure that the event remains on Lagos State cultural calendar even with the succession of new administration.

Death toll rises in Lagos rail, road crashes

 

At least nine people died in two fatal crashes on the Kara axis of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Fagba-Abattoir area of Lagos State Thursday morning.

At the Fagba end of Lagos, a train collided with a vehicle, injuring scores of people.

At the accident on Kara Bridge after Berger on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, five persons died and 19 others were seriously injured in the early morning incident involving about 15 vehicles.

Hyginus Omeje, the Lagos State Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, who confirmed the accident, said three of the victims died on the spot while two later died in the hospital.

Mr. Omeje said the cause of the accident had not been ascertained but that efforts were on to rescue the injured victims as well as ease the traffic along the corridor.

“We received a call this morning that an accident occurred by the Kara Bridge along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway where about 16 vehicles were involved,” he said.

“Three people died on the spot while two later died at the hospital, the crash involved many vehicles, including buses, cars and trucks.

“The number of people involved in the accident was 53. They are 40 men and 13 women.

“The injured people have been taken to the nearest hospital with the help of Lagos State Emergency Management.”

At the Fagba-Abattoir incident around Ojurin, four people were confirmed dead with several others injured.

The Lagos Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, said a truck with registration number MYM63A was making efforts to make a turn on the railway track when it collided with an oncoming train.

The four dead victims were said to be hanging on the moving train.

Witnesses that several others around the railway track sustained various degrees of injury.

The deceased have since been taken to the mortuary while the injured have been taken to the hospital, our correspondent gathered.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Special Duties, Oluseye Oladejo, was at the scene of the incident to help facilitate efforts made by emergency responders to attend to the injured.

Mr. Tiamiyu said proper investigations would be conducted into the incident.

He advised Lagosians who have a habit of hanging on moving trains to desist from the act to avoid recurrence of such tragic incident.

Lagos CP reveals how fake iphone sellers dupe Nigerians through popular website

 

The Police in Lagos has smashed an organised crime ring through which Nigerians buying phones on the internet were being robbed on a daily basis.

Thirty-five-year-old Alade Olalekan and Olumide Oluwole, 31, contrived a means of returning fake money to those who they lure to the Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos, to make payment for iPhones advertised on Jiji.

According to the suspects, more victims fall into the trap at the end of every month when workers had just received salaries.

Lagos State Police Commissioner, Imohimi Edgal, while parading the suspects on Thursday, told reporters how his men smashed the syndicate.

Edgal said in a statement: “On Monday October 30, 2017 at about 15:00hrs through the Trust-Built Community Police & Safety Partnership, intelligence report was received from a concerned citizen who had previously been defrauded.

“The victim, who was defrauded through a phone contact number 08081273170 gotten online at www.jiji.ng website after purchasing an iPhone6 (64gb) for the sum of N70,000 and was to make a physical payment before receiving the product, was lured to make the payment to one of the suspects at Awolowo way around computer village, Ikeja.

“After the victim had made the payment, she was manipulated to believe that task force officials were after them. In that confused state, the cash she handed over to suspected fraudsters was later exchanged with neatly cut-to-size papers covered with three genuine N1000 notes presented as the complete money. It was hurriedly refunded to her. On further confirmation of the money, it was discovered to be a scam of ordinary paper notes.

“The victim reported to the police and gave full information which led to the tracking of suspected online fraud syndicate by Lagos police personnel of the SIB who staged a covert operation on the 31st of October 2014 with another would-be victim.

“This led to the arrest of their kingpin and leader of the gang, Alade Olalekan (m) age 35 years, and Olumide Oluwole (m) age 31 years. Upon arrest, police recovered a bundle of neatly cut-to-size paper wrapped with N1000 notes in their possession.

“The suspects have confessed to the crime and are helping with the progress of identifying other members of the gang at large.”

One of the suspects, Oluwole, told reporters that they usually collect phones from dealers who want us to scout for buyers.

Olalekan said, “We started by buying China phones and passing it as original. We buy the China phones for N17, 000 and we’ll hold it like original and sell at high price. Most people don’t know the difference.

“After many people have reported us, government started paying attention and the market chairman banned hawking. Then, things became tough because they were just packing everybody. So, we started this online method that has been on at the Computer Village.”

Expressing faith in what he described as the new partnership with members of the public and their continuous support to the police, Edgal said that the police would perform better when members of the public give useful information to aid investigation and arrest of suspects committing crime in the state.

He said that the suspects would be charged to court, as he urged Lagosians to be more vigilant and security conscious at all times in order not to fall victim to fraudulent and criminal activities.