The Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu has decried the perceived neglect of Lagos state by the federal government, and demanded an urgent redress of what he described as ‘’injustice’’.
The Oba made this known request while receiving the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, in his palace.
The President’s wife, who is on a two-day visit to the state, paid a coutesy visit to the monarch, where she was accompanied by Senator Florence Ita-Giwa and wives of both Katsina and Bayelsa state governors.
The King described Lagos state as a “mini-Nigeria” as it hosts every tribe in Nigerian from across the federation, noting “there are a lot of pressures on the infrastructural facilities available in the state, owing to the daily influx of people from the six geo-political zones.”
Oba Akiolu pleaded with the President, that “the state does not deserve marginalisation” as he stated that “the federal government has not done much for the state.”
He further urged the president to fix all the federal roads in the state, which he described as eye sores.
Described Lagos state as the nation’s economic nerve centre, Oba Akiolu also enjoined the President to release all the property and money due to the state for development.
He warned the President to halt the Boko Haram threat before it spreads to other zones.
Oba Akiolu also advised the President to see Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as partners in progress, instead of relating to them as members of the opposition.
The First Lady told the King that that she was in Lagos to thank the people of the state for the support they gave to her husband during the last election.
Mrs. Jonathan noted the expressed grievances and promised to convey them to the President.
She also gave the assurance that the President will reciprocate the kind gestures of Lagosians.
The Lagos State government has warned that it may soon takeover abandoned buildings being used as hideouts by criminals across the state and owners of such properties would also be penalized.
This was made known by the state’s Deputy Police Commissioner, operations, Mr. Tunde Sobulo, after Wednesday’s Security Council Meeting chaired by the state governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN).
According to the Police boss, raids on such properties would henceforth be intensified, noting that where it is discovered that the owners of such properties have completely abandoned them, “we will recommend to the State government to take them over and the owners will be fished out and penalized” he said.
He stated that said the Security Council agreed to commence heavy enforcement of the law against squatters residing under bridges, or using highways and other open spaces as residents across the metropolis adding, “It will no longer be acceptable. We are going to go all out on them”.
According to him, security agencies will henceforth arrest anyone found pushing loaded carts or wheel barrows along the expressways.
He stressed the practice is no longer acceptable, “if you want to carry any load use vehicle to carry it. We are no longer going to accept the use of carts on the highways” he stated.
On the threat of Boko Haram, Mr Sobulo noted that the security agencies in the state are aware of atrocities being allegedly committed by some illegal settlers across the country.
He warned residents to maintain vigilance and report any form of illegal settlements or suspicious clusters of people in their communities to the security agencies nearest to them.
Also speaking on other issues discussed at the meeting, Brigadier General Pat Akem said the ban on the use of Army, Navy and Air Force stickers is still in force and he urged residents to report anyone found using such stickers to impersonate the Armed Forces. He noted that such stickers are being used by people to facilitate easy passages through checkpoints and security areas.
Security authorities in Lagos on Saturday said that the ban on the use of military stickers in cars will henceforth be strictly enforced. This was disclosed by the Commandant of the Airforce Base, Ikeja, Air Commodore Tony Omenyi who said the ban follows the abuse of Nigeria Airforce stickers.
He said from now on, the Police have been empowered to remove the Airforce car stickers on any car that it is affixed on; adding that all those who have it on their cars should remove them immediately.
“So, I am appealing to Lagosians to avoid confrontation with the Military and remove Airforce stickers from their cars. And this affects Airforce personnel too. Nobody is allowed to have Airforce stickers on their cars”, he added.
Also speaking on the same issue, the Nigerian Army Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Pat Aken gave an update on the ban by the Army on the use of its stickers, saying the ban is not restricted to stickers but anything that creates a false impression of belonging to the force.
“Anything that creates the impression that one belongs to the Army is banned even for serving personnel. Lagosians should note that anybody parading himself with a sticker is a fraud and would be sanctioned accordingly”, he said.
Clamp down on aliens in Lagos
Meanwhile, the Police in Lagos State said it will soon clamp down on illegal aliens in the State in a move to help check the current influx of the aliens into such highbrow areas like Ikoyi and Victoria Island.
The State Police Commissioner, Umar Manko who disclosed this while briefing Government House Correspondents on the outcome of the State Security Council Meeting chaired by the state governor, Babatunde Fashola at Lagos House, Marina said the security agencies are monitoring the influx of the illegal aliens.
Mr Manko added that for those who are not Nigerians the security agencies will take action in accordance with Nigerian laws. He said that the security agencies including the Immigrations are collaborating on this and urged the citizens to continue to remain vigilant and be law abiding, adding that they should also avail themselves of the Emergency toll free numbers of 767 of 112 when in any distress situation and to pass useful information to security agencies.
On how the Police intend to maintain security in the state, despite the banning of checkpoints, the Police Commissioner said what the Inspector General of Police directed was not that there should not be Police presence on the roads but that Police should remove barriers on the road.
He explained that barriers are different from not finding Police on the roads, adding that the barriers which have been removed and remains removed have been replaced by motorized patrols and foot patrols.
On efforts to curb the recklessness of okada riders in the state, Mr Manko said any close observance of the activities of the State Police Command along the Ikeja axis in the last four to five days will show that the Police have been impounding most of the motorcycles that flout the law.
He said the Police Command has discovered of recent that the okada riders have been using them to commit crimes, stressing that this is a situation which the State will not tolerate.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, has granted the Lagos State government the executive fiat to prosecute tax offenders in the state under the Personal Income Tax Act.
Special Adviser to Governor Babatunde Fashola on Justice, Mr Lanre Akinsola, disclosed this yesterday at a briefing on tax compliance in the state.
“Last week Thursday, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice granted approval to the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, to prosecute tax defaulters or evaders. This means that if you don’t pay your tax, you will go to jail and will not be liable to hold any public office position,” he said.
He said any person or cor-porate organisation that fails to submit tax returns for last year by the end of this month has committed an offence.
Earlier, while justifying why Lagos needs to increase its internally generated revenue that was N16billion monthly last year, the Special Assistant to the Lagos state Governor on Taxation and Revenue, Mr Abimbola Sodipo, said the challenge was funding the 106 new projects to be executed by the state.
He said available data show that out of the 20million population of the state, eight million are workers but only 2 .7million pay tax, while 5.3million do not.
Noting that Lagos has adopted advocacy, enlightenment, awards and recognition, among others, to encourage payment of tax, he said: “Now we are moving to a vigorous enforcement level. We will prosecute and refuse to listen to any concessions or waivers.”
Chairman, Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Tunde Fowler, said the days the state relied on Abuja for much of its revenue are over.
He said funds from the Federation Account accounted for only 51.14 per cent of the state revenue for 2007 while it decreased to 37 per cent last year.
He said if every taxable person pays his tax in the state monthly internally generated revenue would increase to N20billion and this would help to build more infrastructure.
He explained that in the government’s proactive effort to ensure compliance with the taxation policy, a total of 610 companies were sealed up between 2010 and 2011 with N1,334,519,040.73 billion recovered.
Fowler enumerated the various punishments for failure to pay the Personal Income Tax. He said failure by a banker to render returns, books, documents and information on demand within seven days attracts a fine of N500, 000 for a corporate body and N50,000 for an individual, while failure by banker to render information about new customer within 7 days attracts N500, 000 for corporate body and N50, 000 for an individual. For an employer of labour, the PITA states that failure to deduct or remit tax will attract 10 per cent of tax not deducted, plus interest at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monetary Policy Rate.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Monday inaugurated the Lagos State Law Reform Committee expressing the hope that it will lead the way forward on where government should intervene in terms of amending, repealing or replacing existing laws in a manner consistent with global practices.
Governor Fashola who spoke at the Lagos House, Ikeja while inaugurating the three man Committee headed by a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Supo Shasore (SAN) said with the caliber of men on the Committee, the government looks forward to a future that is driven by proactive laws that are lifesaving and citizen responsive while empowering government to do its job better.
“As a government that is committed to law and order, the protection of citizens and their property becomes more difficult if the laws do not reflect the current realities of today. There are some penal sums that are still kept in currencies that Nigeria no longer uses”.
“Some of the penalties are not in tune with realities of today. They cannot achieve deterrence and corrective purposes anymore and prescriptions that have become out of tune with the realities of today”, Governor Fashola stated.
The State Governor reiterated that Lagos State just as any state faces the challenge of urbanization with many millions moving into urban centres in the last 15 years in higher quantities than it has happened in the last 100 years.
He noted that the major work will be determined by how well the law can be managed and enforced, adding that the government welcomes the idea of a Progressive Law Reform Commission.
He said clearly, the State will need new laws to deal with emerging issues in the transport sector such as multiplying number of bicycles and motorcycle operators who flout the law.
“We need new laws and amendments to deal with those modern challenges as a result of urbanization. We also need new laws on how people live when they migrate to urban centres and control what they can do and what they cannot do”.
“We need new laws on how we manage the issue of safety, epidemiology, management and treatment of diseases that would be the increasing challenge of city and state managers. Not long ago, we grappled with the issue of Lassa fever and the prognosis is that diseases in urban centres would become more challenging to deal with especially diseases with capacity for epidemic proportion”.
Governor Fashola who also expressed his pleasure at the choice of the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Supo Shasore(SAN) said he was a former Attorney General who was committed to law reform.
He said not only was his commitment measurable from the number of bills that were passed during Mr Sasore’s time, but two legislations namely the Criminal Code law and the Magistrate Courts laws were very remarkable about his choice for the commission.
The Governor said the Criminal Code Law and the Magistrate Courts Law which is almost 100 years old and 50 years old respectively before they were reformed speaks volume about how Nigerian laws have lagged behind in terms of developments that have taken place in the society.
Speaking earlier, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaiye had introduced the new Chairman and members namely Mr Supo Shasore (SAN), Mrs Tola Akinsanya and Mr Akeem Olajide Bello, stating that the stage for their inauguration was set when the Governor assented to a bill by the State House of Assembly to reform the Commission.
Mr Ipaiye stated that the assenting of the Governor to the reform law set the stage for an amendment of the law of the State Law Reform Committee as one which keeps the laws on the State under constant review.
Responding on behalf of the appointees, the Chairman, Mr Supo Shasore (SAN) described Governor Fashola as a leader of his generation who has always focused on law and order.
He pledged the commitment of the members to continue to work in the service of the people of Lagos State, adding that they will give the task at hand all the seriousness it requires.
Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire and some members of the State Executive Council.
As a way of resolving issues arising from tax collection from residents of their border areas and avoiding boundary disputes, a joint committee set up by the governments of Lagos and Ogun States will be inaugurated in Lagos on Monday.
In a statement by the Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu the committee will immediately begin sitting and members will embark on an extensive tour of the border towns.
The commencement of the work of the committee will be signalled by a symbolic visit to a few of the border areas by Governors of the two states, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and Mr Babatunde Fashola.
The 14-man joint committee will be co-chaired by the deputy governors, Prince Segun Adesegun (Ogun) and Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire (Lagos).
Other members from Ogun State are Mrs Kemi Adeosun, Commissioner for Finance, Otunba Muyiwa Oladipo, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mrs. Ronke Sokefun, Director General, Bureau of Lands, Mrs. Ronke Adeyokunn, Surveyor General, Mr. Wale Ogunyomade, Special Adviser, Tax and Revenue Matters and Mr. Femi Allen, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, representing the state Internal Revenue Service (OGIRS).
The Lagos team include Mr Abimbola Sodipo, Special Adviser on Taxation and Revenue, Mr. Hakeem Muri Okunola, Permanent Secretary, Lands Bureau, Otunba Adejiyan Ojora, Permanent Secretary, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Oluremi Olatubosun, Surveyor-General and Mr Babatunde Fowler, Chairman, Lagos State Internal Revenue Services.
The committee is an indication of the existing cordial relationship between the governments of both states and their ability to resolve issues amicably.
Members will undertake clear delineation of boundaries between the states and mark out areas belonging to both states with sign posts for the purpose of revenue generation and development efforts.