- … I’m ready step on toes- Bala
By Stanley Onyekwere
In order to ensure that Abuja residents are not double taxed, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, has issued a directive to the authorities of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) to forthwith stop illegal collection of tenement rates or any other such taxes from the people in the Territory.
Consequently, the minister, who frowned at the situation, directed that the FCT permanent secretary should write to the chairman of AMAC, to ensure that all illegal the rates-be it tenement, shop or whatever should be collected by anybody on behalf of the council.
Disclosing this while briefing newsmen in Abuja, after the FCT Executive Committee (EXCO) meeting, yesterday, the minister, stressed area councils have no reason to collect such rates, as they run the markets, parking facilities and the motor parks in the area councils, where they generate revenue.
Mohammed, who spoke through the Coordinator of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Ruben Okoya, pointed out that the directive also goes to other chairmen of all the area councils in the FCT, adding that residents of the Territory have suffered from such illegal tax collections.
He revealed that there are complains about certain people claiming to be AMAC representatives going around collecting tenement rates ranging from N40,000 to N100,000 from FCT residents.
He therefore warned that anybody caught collecting such rates that are illegal, would be dealt with and the full wrath of the law will be brought on their heads, the FCT Administration we would not condone such activities.
“In some cases you find touts going around collecting rates illegally, but it beholds on the FCT Administration to work in collaboration with security agencies to stop such and arrest such people that are involved into such activities.
“It was brought to the notice of FCT, and after discussing it extensively, the minister then directed that permanent secretary should write to the chairman of AMAC, to ensure that no illegal rates should be collected by anybody on behalf of the council.
“Tenement rates have their own ways of being collected by the FCT administration, so the minister was very unhappy, and so was the entire executive committee.
“And what the committee did was to write to AMAC chair, to say any rate you are collecting that is not backed by law, stop it; any rates that you are collecting legally, and then continue,” Okoya quoted the minister.
Consequently, he said by the end of this week the letter should get to the AMAC chairman, who is expected to swing into immediate action to raise an enforcement team, to make sure such illegal collections are immediately stopped forthwith.
Furthermore, he argued that the FCT area councils get their normal allocation every month, still the FCTA also gives back 10 % of the revenue it generate internally to the councils.
“FCT is the only territory where the minister, being the governor does not keep any part of the councils’ revenue, rather he pays to them, adding that, ‘if the councils are saying that if they don’t collect some rates that they would die, then we have think about it twice,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the FCT – EXCO has approved the immediate setting up a committee to identify all violations on the Abuja Master Plan in order to reverse such violations accordingly.
To this end, the minister instructed the committee to identify all the violations and extent of the violations in order to urgently remedy such desecration because no part of the Abuja Master Plan would be compromised.
The minister emphasized that the committee’s job is a key to restoring the Abuja Master Plan and urged members to take the job very seriously by giving it the attention it deserves.
Mohammed warned that all the encroachment must be reversed, as his Administration is ready to step on toes to ensure that Abuja is not be allowed to go the way of other older cities in the country.
He noted that all encroached plots when identified and recovered be deed and titled in the names of respective Secretariats, Departments and Agencies (SDAs) to avoid future bastardization of the city plan.
The Committee is chaired by the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Engr. Adamu Ismaila with members including the FCT Directors of Land Administration, Development Control, Abuja Geographic Information System, Urban & Regional Planning, Mapping & Survey, Parks & Recreation as well as representatives of the FCT Transportation Secretariat and Social Development Secretariat.