20th May, 2010
Several property owners in Lagos State have denied officials of the Lagos State government access to enumerate their properties, fearing that a heavy tax burden may be imposed on them by government.
In a swift move, the state government threatened to sanction property owners who refused property enumerators to count their properties.
â€œIt is an offence under the law for anyone to obstruct property enumerators and government will not hesitate to enforce its laws where there is persistent breach as in this case,â€ said Mr. Ade Ipaye, Special Adviser to the Governor on Taxation and Revenue.
Areas where officials of the state government were denied access to enumerate properties are Diamond Estate in Alimosho Local Government; CBN and Agip Estates in Amuwo-Odofin; Tajudeen Olanrewaju Estate, Lagos Mainland; Royal Estate 1, Surulere and some communities like Itoke, Akodo, Idotun, Magbon Segun, Iye Mowo, Ilege, Imodibo, Orofun, Okuntiye, Magbon Alade and Magbon Ilado in Ibeju Lekki.
Ipaye warned landlords and residents in the affected areas that government would not take it lightly with them, adding that property enumeration was a major tool of planning, without which government could not logically and reasonably determine the allocation of its resources.
â€œIt must be noted that property taxation has nothing to do with land ownership of title, once the property in question falls within the jurisdiction of the taxing authority; although, we are making efforts to resolve this issue amicably,â€ he said.
However, since the property enumeration, under the Property Identification Exercise programme of the state government, started in 2001, over 650,966 properties have been enumerated with digital pictures, ownership particulars and valuation details in governmentâ€™s record.
According to Ipaye, property owners in areas where the exercise had been successful should know that verification activities are currently on to confirm the data collected and gather any new data on change of use on recently constructed or reconstructed properties.
â€œI urge you to cooperate with the officials to make sure that all our records are accurate. With the level of enumeration already attained, we hope that the confusion over tenement rates and land use charge will reduce considerably this year.
â€œUp to 540,000 demand notices are currently in preparation for billing and under newly adopted accelerated billing platform, about 300,000 of these will be served by the end of June,â€ he stated.
The special adviser said the increase in the number of demand notices dispatched had led to an increase in the number of complaints and requests for information received, adding that â€œwe have therefore increased our capacity to deal promptly with these queries and requests, many of which relate to the application of incorrect property classification or rates.
â€œWe, therefore, urge all Lagosians to pay due attention to the form supplied because the incorrect information stems from the refusal of many property owners to fill and/or return our enumeration questionnaires.â€
According to Ipaye, any incorrect information on demand notices should be promptly brought to the attention of the state government.
â€œWe also urge all property owners to continue to lodge their complaints through the proper channels as indicated on the Demand Notices and not to use touts or other unscrupulous people who might pretend that they can assist to reduce or cancel bills,â€ he added.