The Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) has commenced on a 10-day mass trial of no less than 46,000 defaulters in payment of environmental services rendered within the Federal Capital City (FCC).
According to the Acting director of the AEPB, Baba Shehu-Lawan, the prosecution became necessary given the unpaid bills, which had accumulated to the tune of about N10 billion, not emitted to the FCT coffers.
He said the defaulters have refused to pay for services of solid and liquid wastes evacuation, which has accumulated over the years, while they keep enjoying such services.
“These bills have been served for several years, people are not keying in, people are not paying; that is the backlog of the bills including the present bills, which makes it over N10 billion and we cannot seat and fold our arms.
“There has been several warnings as to the effect that the defaulting residents would be tried should they not comply to pay up their bills,” he stressed.
Also, the AEPB boss berated several premises in the FCT without proper waste disposal, which according to him affects the sanity of the entire residential area.
“in most part of the city, mainly, you’ll see, Maitama, Asokoro, Garki 1, Garki2, Wuse1, Wuse2, you’ll see lots of compounds with block of several flats, several shops, they have no bins or they have inadequate bins, within no time, their bins are over flowing.
“Some of the compounds have overgrown grasses and effluent discharge around, blockages of the sewer lines and to ensure sanity in the city, we are now bringing justice near them,” he noted.
He listed other offences for prosecution to includeburning of wastes in an open space, illegal connection to the sewer line which causes blockage, lack of and inadequate sanitary waste bin, and dumping of refuse in unauthorized places.
The AEPB director therefore urged residents to comply with the Board by paying their environmental dues as at when appropriate, in order to avoid being prosecuted.
Speaking earlier during the exercise, the Head, Legal Unit, Mrs. Cecilia Makoji, said the mobile courts were necessary as it will make residents comply with the authorities.
She said it was unfortunate that some residents have enjoyed services but have refused to pay their bills, while also engaging some lawyers to defend them.
“But it is usual, you have some stubborn ones who will not want to pay and want to raise one or two objections as to why or reasons why they should not pay, but the bottom line remains that services have been rendered and they should pay and good citizens should pay when services are being rendered.
Makoji revealed that the defaulters could be could be compelled to pay up, in addition to more payment of fines, and some apartments may be risk being sealed while some may be at a risk of being sent to jail for 3 to 6 months terms as the case may be.
Meanwhile, a resident at the Ambi Plaza, claimed that the AEPB should be dealing with management of the plaza and not individual tenant, as individual billing would be too much to pay.
He said individuals are being charged at a rate that is not at par with their gains or earnings, which makes it a bit difficult to pay up.
“The essence of levy is affordability, so everybody will be able to pay and there won’t be any quarrel, that’s what we are saying,” he stressed.