Adamu Kasimu is the Chair­man, Nige­rian In­sti­tu­tion of Es­tate Sur­vey­ors and Valuers (NIESV), FCT chap­ter. In this in­ter­view he ex­plains how the FCT Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FCTA) could utilise its land re­source through ground rent col­lec­tion to gen­er­ate ad­di­tional

Weekly Trust - - Interview - Mu­likat Mukaila

How can you al­lay the fear of Abuja res­i­dents over the im­pend­ing ten­e­ment rate col­lec­tion

There is noth­ing to fear: it is a statu­tory re­spon­si­bil­ity of ev­ery prop­erty owner or user to pay rent where such law ex­ists; and it does in the FCT.

Can you give us an idea on the rates.

The law es­tab­lish­ing ten­e­ment rate in Abuja stip­u­lates that the rate is based on the gross an­nual value of a prop­erty: it is four per cent or four kobo to the naira of the as­sessed value.

Let’s say in Asokoro District, how much would the ten­e­ment rate be for a four-bed­room bun­ga­low?

The rental value of a four-bed­room bun­ga­low in Asokoro may not ex­ceed N2.5m to N3m per an­num, while in Kubwa, a sim­i­lar prop­erty may be N600, 000 or N700, 000 per an­num, de­pend­ing on the lo­ca­tion.

Who would be li­able, is it the owner or the ten­ant?

The law states that it is an oc­cu­pier’s li­a­bil­ity; so if it is the land­lord that is re­sid­ing in his prop­erty, the in­ci­dence of the rate is on him or her. If it is a ten­ant, then the in­ci­dence is on that ten­ant.

How­ever, gov­ern­ment-owned prop­erty, re­li­gious prop­erty, diplo­matic in­sti­tu­tions, etc. are ex­empted, and the min­is­ter may by or­der ex­empt any prop­erty.

We have in­stances where houses are oc­cu­pied by both ten­ants and land­lords.

That is why AMAC re­cently con­cluded a gen­eral as­sess­ment re­cently. You find that in one build­ing it is pos­si­ble that three or four house­holds, but will in­di­vid­u­ally pay same or dif­fer­ent charges de­pend­ing on the an­nual value of the prop­erty they in­di­vid­u­ally oc­cupy.

So if a land­lord oc­cu­pies a part of the prop­erty, he pays for that part. How­ever, it is not a gen­eral rule. If there is a con­tract agree­ment that man­dates the land­lord to be re­spon­si­ble for the pay­ment of ten­e­ment, so shall it be.

Is it an­nu­ally and can ten­ants or oc­cu­piers pay in in­stall­ments?

It is an an­nual pay­ment, and it is be­cause of the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try that AMAC re­cently ap­proved 50 per cent dis­count to any­body in res­i­den­tial dwelling will­ing to pay his or her rent be­tween now and Novem­ber.

Is there go­ing to be penalty for those who refuse to pay?

The law says you should serve a no­tice of as­sess­ment, then a de­mand no­tice, af­ter that if you fail to pay you will be given a re­minder, if you still fail to pay AMAC takes you to court. The court in its own wis­dom will not just send you to prison but will oblige you to pay by a cer­tain date. If you fail, that is when the same court may give an or­der em­pow­er­ing AMAC to seal the prop­erty.

Is the ur­ban and re­gional tri­bunal still func­tional in the FCT?

It is func­tional: it is just that peo­ple are not aware of its func­tions. But ten­e­ment rate is not a tri­bunal is­sue. The law that es­tab­lished ten­e­ment rate gives an ag­grieved party the op­por­tu­nity for re­dress within the rat­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion frame­work. AMAC has reg­is­tered all val­u­a­tions car­ried out by our mem­bers in the FCT Up­per Area Court as re­quired by the law, so the best one can do is to go through the area court sys­tem and get re­dress, even though they are us­ing mag­is­trates’ courts for en­force­ment. So what should be done? The process could be strength­ened through the Abuja Ge­o­graphic In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem (AGIS) or the FCTA may need to re­vive the old sys­tem and set up what is called Ground Rent Man­age­ment Of­fice to col­late all nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion about land ti­tles cre­ated in the FCT and col­lect all rev­enues that are due to FCT ev­ery year just like what AMAC is now do­ing in re­la­tion to ten­e­ment rate.

Will this not be mul­ti­ple tax­a­tion of the av­er­age prop­erty owner?

Ground rent is not a tax. Re­mem­ber, you are al­lo­cated land sub­ject to con­di­tions in­clud­ing pay­ment of ground rent. So by the spirit of the Land Use Act, no­body owns land in Nige­ria.

As es­tate sur­vey­ors con­ducted the as­sess­ment, what was the re­sponse from prop­erty own­ers?

I can con­firm to you that the ac­cep­tance was en­cour­ag­ing, peo­ple were will­ing to sub­mit their prop­erty for as­sess­ment, some felt they were ini­tially over­charged so af­ter the val­u­a­tion the fig­ures were dis­played, and some peo­ple lodged griev­ances and their com­plaints were at­tended to by AMAC.

Al­haji Adamu Kasimu

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