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Legal Alert – November 2010 – Land Instruments Registration – Part 2
 
In this Issue:-
1. Legal Alert for November 2010 – Land Instruments Registration Law, Part 2
2. Subscribe & Unsubscribe to Legal Alerts.
3. Disclaimer Notice
Legal Alert – November 2010 – Land Instruments Registration Law – Part 2
Introduction
In Part One of our Legal Alert, "Land Instruments – Survey Plan & Survey Law", we emphasised the significance of preparing and registering all Survey Plans to land. In this Part Two of this Legal Alert, we will be examining the origin of land registration with the present applicable legislations on the subject.
Registration of Titles Law
The Registration of Titles Law of Lagos State requires that any first voluntary transfer of any right or interest in land or in any landed property, including all leases or assignments, for a consideration that is in money/cash, or is a combination of money and some other consideration in kind, for a term of forty (40) or more years is void if an application for registration is not submitted within a period of two months from the date of the commencement of the land transfer agreement.
A Grantee of any interest in land, as referred to above, is allowed to apply to a Court of Law for extension of time within which he or she could apply for the registration of his or her interest in land at the Land Registry. Where however such an application for extension of time is not made and granted, the unregistered land instrument will be deemed null and void, of no effect whatsoever.
Equally significant is the requirement that every charge or encumbrance relating to any land must also be registered. Charges against the assets of incorporated companies in Nigeria must equally be registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission in compliance with Section 197 of the Companies & Allied Matters Act. The effect of non-registration is that such a land instrument will be declared null and void against the liquidator and any secured creditor of such a company.
Land Instruments Registration Law
After the first registration of any interest regarding any land, in accordance with the provisions of the Registration of Titles Law, subsequent transfers or registration of interest must be undertaken under the Land Instruments Registration Law.
A land instrument is described by the Land Instruments Registration Law to be a document affecting any interest in land where one party confers, transfers, limits, charges or extinguishes his or her interest in such a property/land, in favour of another party. Where any of the described event herein occurs, such instrument must be registered otherwise it will be deemed to be null and void, of no effect whatsoever.
A land Instrument can however only be registered if it has attached and accompanying it a Survey Plan of the land duly signed by a licensed Land Surveyor. Also, no Land Instrument requiring Governor's consent under the provisions of the Land Use Act will be accepted for registration unless and until the consent of the Governor of the relevant State is obtained and endorsed on the Land Instrument. Subject to the Registrar of Titles extending the time for making a registration application upon good cause being shown, any Land Instrument that is endorsed by the Governor of a State with his consent but which Instrument is not registered within a period of six months (twelve months in some instances), will be held to be null and void, of no effect whatsoever.
Where one of the parties to a land transaction is an illiterate, such an illiterate must endorse his mark or thumb print on the land instrument in the presence of a Magistrate or a Justice of the peace. Failure to obtain this statutory endorsement on the land instrument invalidates the land instrument.
Miscellaneous
The Registrar of Titles is authorised, upon the making of the proper application and the payment of the relevant fees, to furnish certified true copies of any entry on a registered Land Instrument registered at the Land Registry. Any certified copy of a registered Land Instrument is admissible in evidence in civil proceedings without any further or other proof required in a Court of Law.
Also, every judgement of a Court of Law affecting any interest in land, with a certified true copy of the Map or Survey Plan of the land concerned, must be transmitted by the Registrar of the Court that delivered such a judgement to the Registrar for Titles who shall on receipt of these documents register the judgement with the accompanying Survey Plan against the legal title to such land that the judgement affects. This process serves as a further notice of the judgement to members of the public.
Effect of Registration
The registration of a Land Instrument does not however cure it of any defect in the Instrument neither does it confer on the Instrument any validity which the Instrument would not have otherwise had but for its registration. However, any Land Instrument that is registered, without any inherent defect in the Instrument, takes priority over and against other unregistered land instruments affecting the same land, from the date of the first registration of the registered Land Instrument.
A second effect of a registered Land Instrument is that it can be pleaded and tendered in evidence; whereas, an unregistered instrument must not be pleaded or given in evidence except where the relief sought is an equitable one coupled with possession that some consideration was provided for.
Case Law
There are a plethora of decisions of superior Courts of record where substantial justice was sought to be done in the face of the strict legislations regulating the acquisition and transfer of landed property in Nigeria. In Savannah Bank v. Ajilo (1989), the Supreme Court considered the revolutionary effect of the provision of the Land Use Act and held that any alienation of any interest in land, in Nigeria, will be null and void except the consent of the Governor is obtained. This provision, the Supreme Court observed, will have a suffocating effect on the commercialisation and growth of the real estate industry in Nigeria.
In another matter, Akinduro v. Alaya (2007), the Supreme Court held that an unregistered land instrument must not be pleaded as it is inadmissible. Where it is wrongly pleaded and admitted in evidence, it will be expunged. But in the matter of Nsiegbe v. Mgbemena (2007) the Supreme Court held that a purchaser of land or a lessee in active possession of land by virtue of an unregistered land instrument acquires a equitable interest in the land which equitable interest can only be defeated by another purchaser for value without notice of the prior unregistered equity, i.e. equitable interest coupled with active possession. Decisions like this one are however based strictly on the facts presented to the Court. There are therefore more of the exception than the general rule.
Conclusion
The inability of the Nigerian government to heed numerous representations, both judicial and non-judicial, on the necessity to amend or abrogate the Land Use Act continues to inhibit the ability of this vital sector of the Nigerian economic attracting large local and foreign investments. Also, the cumbersome nature and costs of registering Land Instruments in Nigeria discourages registration which exposes the parties to a plethora of protracted court cases that span decades to resolve.
A stimulus package which does not obtain the amendment of the legislations regulating real estate businesses in Nigeria will not be a wholesome package intended to develop the Nigerian economy. Pending the resolution of the legal and structural environment for the real estate market in Nigeria, investors will be better served by exercising caution and undertaking extensive due diligence before they exchange land instruments in return for valuable consideration.
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DISCLAIMER NOTICE. This Legal Alert is a free educational material, for your general information and enlightenment purposes ONLY. This Alert, by itself, does not create a Client/Attorney relationship between yourself and our Law Firm. Recipients are therefore advised to seek professional legal counselling to their specific situations when they do arise. Questions, comments, criticisms, suggestions, new ideas, contributions, etc are always welcomed with many thanks.
This Legal Alert is protected by Intellectual Property Law and Regulations. It may however be shared with other parties provided that our Authorship is always acknowledged and this Disclaimer Notice is attached.
Legal Alert – December 2010 – Minority Shareholders' Rights
 
In this Issue:-
1. Legal Alert for December 2010 – Minority Shareholders' Rights
2. Subscribe & Unsubscribe to Legal Alerts.
3. Disclaimer Notice
Legal Alert – December 2010 – Minority Shareholders' Rights
Introduction
The global economic crises have again highlighted the dereliction in the responsibilities of the shareholders of companies, who as owners and not spectators of their companies, should properly oversee the governance and management of their companies. And to in proper instances, assert their legal rights to protect their shares/investments in these companies.
The position of the minority shareholders is usually more precarious as a result of the narrow understanding of the general legal rule that allows only a company, through its majority shareholders, to assert the legal rights of such a company. This rule, commonly known as the rule in Foss v. Harbottle, is intended to avoid multiplicity of law suits and also to protect our courts of law from interfering in the internal affairs of a company. However, and sometime, the injury to the company is caused by the majority shareholders or their appointed Directors to which situation the law has created exceptions to this general rule.
Minority Shareholders Rights
Section 81 of the Companies & Allied Matters Act ascribes to every member of an incorporated company, who has fully paid for his or her shares, a right to attend all the shareholders' meetings of such a company; and to speak and vote at such shareholders meetings. The mode of proving membership of a company is by the possession of a share certificate and the tendering of a certified true copy of the register of members should such a matter go to litigation. See the decision in Oriji v. Dorji Textile Mills Limited (2009) 12 SC (Part III) 101 @ 108, 112-113.
All the members of a company also have the right to receive copies of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the company as they do further have the right to receive and comment on the audited accounts of the company.
The minority shareholders of a company also have the right to bring derivative actions, in the name of the company, where the wrongdoers are the controlling directors of the company, who have being entrusted with the control and management of the company, and who have done any of the following:-
a) Entered into any transaction which is illegal or ultra vires the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the company;
b) Committed a fraud on either the company or on the minority shareholders despite repeated notice to refrain or remedy such complained of actions;
c) Derived or is/are deriving a profit or benefit or profited from their negligence and or breach of duty of care;
d) Have by their actions or inactions or omissions infringed upon the individual rights of the minority shareholders;
e) Are conducting the affairs of the company in an unfair, prejudicial and oppressive manner.
Judicial decisions on this matter, for your study, include the decisions in William v. William (1995-1996) ALL NLR 283 @ 294-302; Yalaju-Amaju v. A.R.E.C (1990) 6 SC 157 @ 175-176.
Conclusion
The plethora of judicial authorities with the provisions of the Companies & Allied Matters Act are available to all shareholders, including the minority shareholders, to protect their investment rights. Shareholders should therefore avail themselves of these provisions to avoid more catastrophic losses in the future.
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DISCLAIMER NOTICE. This Legal Alert is a free educational material, for your general information and enlightenment purposes ONLY. This Alert, by itself, does not create a Client/Attorney relationship between yourself and our Law Firm. Recipients are therefore advised to seek professional legal counselling to their specific situations when they do arise. Questions, comments, criticisms, suggestions, new ideas, contributions, etc are always welcomed with many thanks.
This Legal Alert is protected by Intellectual Property Law and Regulations. It may however be shared with other parties provided that our Authorship is always acknowledged and this Disclaimer Notice is attached.
Legal Alert – October 2010 – Land Instruments – Survey Plan and Survey Law
 
In this Issue:-
1. Legal Alert for October 2010 – Land Instruments – Survey Plans and Survey Law
2. Subscribe & Unsubscribe to Legal Alerts.
3. Disclaimer Notice
Legal Alert – October 2010 – Land Instruments - Survey Plan and Survey Law – Part 1
Introduction
The global economic crises that also affected the Nigerian Stock Market have necessitated both big and small investors to explore the very many investment opportunities that exist in the Nigerian real estate market. However, due to the expensive land transfer/registration costs, with associated bureaucratic bottlenecks, the most common land instrument that a land purchaser retains, after the payment receipt, is the Survey Plan.
Holders of the various Survey Plans are however not usually under sufficient enquiry as to the legal value of the Survey Plan that they receive in exchange of their hard earned money. This part one of this legal alert is our contribution to your appreciation of what a Survey Plan is, and what law regulates its enforcement in the various States of the Federation.
What is a Survey Plan?
A Survey Plan can be described as a land instrument which shows as clearly and as accurately as possible, with as much certainty as also possible, the ascertainable area of a piece or parcel of land with its definite and precise boundaries that it describes. Where a survey plan does not possess these attributes, it is of no value whatsoever to the holder of the document.
What Law regulates Survey Plans, Maps, etc?
Most States in the Federal Republic of Nigeria have a Survey Law whose provisions are similar to the Survey Laws of the other States. In Lagos State, the applicable law is the Survey Law, 1984.
Section 1 of the Lagos State Survey Law requires that any map or diagram or survey plan that is attached to a registered land instrument or that will be tendered in any court of law must be prepared, signed and certified by a licensed surveyor.
Any unauthorised person who wilfully obliterate, remove or injure any trigonometrical station, survey beacon, mark or pole or any boundary marks fixed, set up or placed for the purpose of any public survey or any survey ordered by an Act of Parliament shall be liable to pay a fine of N100 or to serve a term of imprisonment for 3 months or to both the fine and the term of imprisonment. In further addition to the latter provision, such a person could be ordered to pay the cost of repairing or replacing the items obliterated, removed or damaged. See Section 6 of the Survey Law.
It is the duty of the owner and the occupiers of any land, including the community leaders in the area where the land is situated, or where the land have boundaries with any trigonometrical station, survey beacon, mark or pole, to preserve these items and report forthwith to the nearest officer of the survey department if these items are obliterated, removed or damaged or require repair. Any breach of this duty, on conviction, attracts a fine of N100.00.
Also, any person who without the authority of the Surveyor General uncovers any survey beacons or marks buried below the surface of the ground or covered with earth, stone or other material, is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of N100.00 or to a term of imprisonment for six months.
Any person who wilfully obstructs, hinders, resists or threatens any Surveyor in the execution of his duty shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to pay a fine of N100 or to serve a term of imprisonment for six months or to both the fine and the term of imprisonment.
Discipline of Surveyors
A disciplinary committee is established for erring Surveyors who have intentionally or negligently or recklessly or out of culpable ignorance of facts made an incorrect survey or delivered an incorrect plan or diagram of land or prepared a plan which does not conform with the requirements of any regulation made under the Survey Law or have been convicted of any offence involving fraud or dishonesty.
Some of the penalties that a erring Surveyor could incur include suspension from practice or the outright cancellation of his practising license. Where a Surveyor's license is cancelled and he fails to surrender his license to the Surveyor General, such a Surveyor shall be guilty of an offence which on conviction carries a fine of N200 (Two Hundred Naira).
A Surveyor's license that is cancelled or suspended can always be restored on the Surveyor making an application which must disclose sufficient and reasonable ground(s) to assist the disciplinary committee in considering whether or not it should restore the Surveyor's license.
Conclusion
In part two of this legal alert, we shall be considering whether a Survey Plan is under Nigerian Law a land instrument that requires registration, and the implication of non-registration where registration is required.
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DISCLAIMER NOTICE. This Legal Alert is a free educational material, for your general information and enlightenment purposes ONLY. This Alert, by itself, does not create a Client/Attorney relationship between yourself and our Law Firm. Recipients are therefore advised to seek professional legal counselling to their specific situations when they do arise. Questions, comments, criticisms, suggestions, new ideas, contributions, etc are always welcomed with many thanks.
This Legal Alert is protected by Intellectual Property Law and Regulations. It may however be shared with other parties provided that our Authorship is always acknowledged and this Disclaimer Notice is attached.
Legal Alert – September 2010 – HIV and AIDS Protection Law
 
In this Issue:-
1. Legal Alert for September, 2010 – Lagos State HIV/AIDS Protection Law
2. Subscribe & Unsubscribe to Legal Alerts.
3. Disclaimer Notice
Introduction
The stigmatisation, segregation and discrimination of people living with HIV and or people afflicted or affected by AIDS remains rampant in Nigeria. Save for some provisions on fundamental human rights in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there are no specific laws on the protection of people living with either HIV or people afflicted with AIDS. That is until the Lagos State Government, in 2007, passed into law "the protection of persons living with HIV and affected by AIDS Law" 2007. This Law came into force on 18th May, 2007.
In spite of the Lagos State HIV and AIDS Protection Law, the menace and cost of this illness, with the response of most members of the society to it remain unabatedly negative.
A recent law suit filed at the Lagos State High Court is currently under the jurisdictional challenge of whether the Lagos State House of Assembly has the constitutional authority to legislate on labour/employment and human rights matters? Despite this law suit, employers and employees are advised to be sensitised to the existence of this law and its application.
Lagos State HIV and AIDS Protection Law
Section 1 of the Lagos State HIV and AIDS Protection Law guarantees the protection of all persons living with HIV and or affected by AIDS by among other things providing these persons with access to health care institutions in Lagos State including access to life prolonging drugs, treatments and therapies. Persons living with HIV or affected by AIDS also have the right to voluntary counseling in all Public Health Institutions established in Lagos State in addition to HIV and anti-body tests in all Public Health Institutions established in the State.
An anti-retroviral drugs trust fund is established to ensure the purchase of anti-retroviral drugs which shall be distributed free of charge to persons living with HIV or persons affected by AIDS. Such persons include pregnant women and children living with HIV or affected by AIDS. Contributors to this Fund include the Federal, State and Local Governments, corporate bodies, philanthropic organisations and individuals, International charitable organisations, non-governmental organisations, other interested persons and other nations of the world.
Unlawful and Discriminatory Actions
The following actions and other similar acts are regarded by this law to be unlawful and discriminatory against persons living with HIV and affected by AIDS:
(a) The refusal of a Landlord to accept as a tenant a person living with HIV and or affected by AIDS.
(b) The stigmatisation and denial of such a person free and easy access to a private or public health Institution
(c) The denial of the right of the affected person to pursue his or her academic career in an educational institution
(d) The discrimination and stigmatisation of such a person in any social, religious or political gathering.
(e) The segregation, discrimination and stigmatisation of the affected person at any place of employment.
(f) The subjection of employees to compulsory and mandatory HIV test.
It is also unlawful for a person living with HIV or affected by AIDS to have his employment terminated by reason of his AIDS or HIV status. To provide some further guarantee for this provision, all corporate organisations are mandatorily required to have an HIV/AIDS policy for the benefit of their employees living with HIV and or affected by AIDS.
Other protections provided by this Law include:-
(i) Persons who die as a result of complications arising from HIV/AIDS infections have the right of admission at any mortuary or hospital, with the further right to a decent burial.
(ii) They also have the right to sue against discrimination or stigmatisation.
Offences
Any organisation that uses the medium of HIV/AIDS to harm, defraud or act in any manner that is morally wrong or criminal shall be liable to closure and blacklisting while its principal officers shall be liable on conviction to a fine of N250,000 with or without the option of a 5 year jail term.
Any person who knowingly or willfully endangers other people by infecting them with the AIDS virus commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N200,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to both the fine and term of imprisonment.
Any health worker who intentionally reveals the health status of any person living with HIV and infected with AIDS shall be suspended from his or her duties, and may be relieved of his or her duties.
Any person who fails to comply with some of the above mentioned provisions on discrimination, stigmatisation, denial of access to facilities, etc commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both the fine and the term of imprisonment.
Any employer of labour who fails to comply with the provisions of this Law commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
Any person or persons, or organisation that lay claim to unsubstantiated remedy or remedies, or proffers cure of HIV with intent to defraud members of the public shall be liable to a fine of N1,000,000 or to a 5 years jail term on conviction.
Conclusion
The constitutionality or otherwise of the HIV and AIDS Protection Law must not inhibit Nigeria from embracing the current global best practices of penalising all forms of discrimination, stigmatisation or discrimination of persons living with HIV/AIDS. The Federal and State Houses of Assemblies must therefore harmonise a common position and pass into Law Federal and State anti-HIV/AIDS discrimination, stigmatisation or segregation law(s).
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DISCLAIMER NOTICE. This Legal Alert is a free educational material, for your general information and enlightenment purposes ONLY. This Alert, by itself, does not create a Client/Attorney relationship between yourself and our Law Firm. Recipients are therefore advised to seek professional legal counselling to their specific situations when they do arise. Questions, comments, criticisms, suggestions, new ideas, contributions, etc are always welcomed with many thanks.
This Legal Alert is protected by Intellectual Property Law and Regulations. It may however be shared with other parties provided that our Authorship is always acknowledged and this Disclaimer Notice is attached.
Legal Alert for August 2010 – New Local Government Approved Taxes Levies Law
 
In this Issue:
1. Legal News
2. Legal Alert for August, 2010 – New Lagos State Local Government Approved Taxes/Levies Law
3. Subscribe & Unsubscribe to Legal Alerts.
4. Disclaimer Notice.
Legal News
Effective 1st September 2010, the Honourable Minister for the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry has, in the exercise of his duties as provided for in Section 45(1)(e) of the Trademarks Act, approved an upward review of the fees charged for Trademark, Patent and Design registrations at the Trademark, Patent and Designs Registry.
New Lagos State Local Government Approved Taxes/Levies Law
The controversy over the division of the taxing powers of the three tiers of government with the resulting multiple taxation thereof remains unabated in a Nigerian economy that seeks to improve and encourage existing businesses while attracting new direct foreign investments. Cases of the indiscriminate imposition of taxes and levies particularly by the local government councils, who are left with the least revenue from the federation account, remain abound.
To address the above problem and assist businesses, the Lagos State Government recently passed into law, the Local Government Levies (Approved Collection List) Law to among other things:- (a) prescribe the levies that can be imposed and collected by Local Government Councils in Lagos State and (b) to regulate the administration of such prescribed levies in Lagos State.
The effort of the Lagos State Government, through the above mentioned law, is to address complaints, especially from the private sector, over the unlawful collection of levies with the resulting multiple taxation, and also to address various superior Courts of record decisions that held that the existing local government laws, on levies that were collected by some Local Governments in the country, were unconstitutional, null and void.
This Alert will provide you with a synopsis of one of such Superior Courts of record decisions on this vexed issue with a further synopsis on the provisions of the new Lagos State Local Government Levies (Approved Collection List) Law which took effect from 12th July 2010.
1st Synopsis – Eti-Osa Local Government v. Rufus Jegede & Anor - CA/L/453/2002.
The Respondent in this appeal, at the Lower Court, challenged the competence of the Appellant Local Government Council to make a law imposing taxes and levies that are outside the provisions of the Fourth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and also outside the provisions of Part 111 of the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act, 1998. The Lower Court held that the Appellant Local Government Council had no legislative powers of its own to impose or determine taxes and levies which are outside the enabling 1998 Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Law. Where however there exist some residual legislative power to collect certain taxes and levies, such residual legislative power must be exercised in conformity with the provisions of the 1998 Federal law, i.e. the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act, 1998.
The Appellant was dissatisfied with the decision of the Lower State High Court and appealed, as was its right, to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal, in its unanimous decision, upheld the decision of the lower State High Court and held that the inherent power of any tier of government to legislate on and impose any form of tax or levy cannot be left at large, or at the whim and caprice of any tier of government, but according to the existing laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Court of Appeal also, obiter dictum, reiterated the age long principle that "...... over taxation resulting from lessez-affaire tax doctrine could be counter productive."
2nd Synopsis - Lagos State Local Government Approved Levies for Collection Law, 2010
This Law authorises all Local Government Councils with their Local Government Development Authorities or any other administrative unit established by Law at the local government level of the State to collect any of the following levies which are enumerated in the Schedule to this Law:-
(1) Shops and kiosks rates.
(2) Approved open market levy.
(3) Tenement rates.
(4) Licensing fee for sale of liquor.
(5) Slaughter slab license fee in abattoirs under local government control.
(6) Marriage, birth and death registration fees.
(7) Street naming registration fee.
(8) Motor Park levy (Including Motor cycles and Tri-cycles).
(9) Parking fee on local government streets or roads as may be approved by the State Government.
(10) Domestic animal licence fee (Excluding poultry farmers).
(11) Licence fees for bicycles, trucks, canoes, wheelbarrows and charts (other than a mechanically propelled trucks).
(12) Radio and Television licence fee (excluding radio and television in motor vehicles, transmitters and other communication equipment)
(13) Public convenience, sewage and refuse disposal fees.
(14) Cemetery and burial ground permit fee.
(15) Permit fee for private entertainment and merriment in public places (excluding roads and streets).
(16) Wharf landing fees.
Subject to Section 13 of this law, no levy shall be charged and collected by a Local Government Area or by a Local Government Development Authority save or except for the levies enumerated above.
To ensure that the disparity or differences in the rates of the levies charged by each Local Government Authority in comparison to other Local Government Authorities is minimised, the State Joint Revenue Committee is enjoined to carry out a periodic review of the rates charged and issue directives that will seek to harmonise the rates as closely as possible to each Local Government Authority's area as possible.
To further ensure transparency, which leads to greater tax compliance, each Local Government Revenue Committee is enjoined to publish at a conspicuous place in all revenue offices of the Local Government Authority, a chart of the approved list of levies with the applicable rates, and the expected time of payment of these levies.
To address the controversy over the appointment of private tax consultants, this law requires that private tax consultants can only be engaged by a local authority where such an authority does not have the personnel with appropriate knowledge or skill to optimally administer the levy or where two or more local authorities by mutual agreement, delegate the authority to administer any levy to a common private tax consultant whether or not the position of such a private tax consultant is established by a law of the Lagos State Government. The collection of the scheduled approved levies by any other unauthorised person shall be unlawful and punishable under this Law, as highlighted hereunder.
This Law further seeks to make unlawful the erection of road blocks and road closures by any Local Government official purportedly for the purpose of collecting the approved list of levies.
OFFENCES
Any person who collects or attempts to collect any levy that is not listed in the Schedule to this Law or does so without due authority and identification, or mounts a road block, or causes a road or street to be closed for the purpose of collecting any levy commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to pay a fine of N500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) only or to imprisonment for a term of three (3) years or to both the fine and the term of imprisonment.
It is equally an offence for any person or agency to demand from any other person an amount in excess of the applicable levy or to fail to remit the revenue collected when due, or who withholds such revenue for his own use, or renders a false return or defrauds any person or embezzles any money or steals or misuses Local Government Authority documents, or compromises on the assessment or collection of any levy, or commits any of these offences which shall on conviction attract a penalty of five hundred percent (500%) of the sum in question and a term of imprisonment for three (3) years.
Where the offending person is armed with an offensive weapon or causes injury to any officer or authorised agent of the Local Government Authority in the performance of their duties, this offence on conviction attracts a term of imprisonment of three (3) years. Where injury results from this felony, the term of imprisonment on conviction is five (5) years. Aiding and abetting the contravention of the provisions of this Law attracts a fine equivalent to 400% (Four Hundred Percent) of the sum in question and imprisonment for a term of two (2) years. The impersonation of the character of an authorised revenue agent shall in addition to any other punishment enumerated herein attract a fine of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250,000) or a term of imprisonment of three years or to both the fine and the term of imprisonment.
CONCLUSION
There is a rather curious provision at the end of the Lagos State Local Government Levies (Approved Collection List) Law, 2010 and this is Section13. Section 13 of this Law provides as follows: "Nothing in this Law shall be construed as prohibiting a Local Government Authority from enforcing penalties stipulated for breach of its bye-laws or charging fees as may be approved by the State Joint Revenue Committee for the use of the Local Government properties, public utilities established and maintained by the Local Government or Services rendered by the Local Government or its officials to particular individual and organisation.
The commendable effort of this law to bring clarity and certainty to what taxes and levies Local Government Authorities are permitted to collect in Lagos State may be compromised by the above Section 13 of this same Law. Section 13 does not follow the decision in the decision of Eti-Osa Local Government Area v. Rufus Jegede (supra) where the Court of Appeal held that the taxing power of any tier of government cannot be left at large or at the whim and caprice of any tier of Government but according to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the 1998 Taxes and Levies (Approved List For Collection) Act. The amendment or outright expunging of Section 13 of this law is highly therefore recommended.
The second comment must be that save for Section 13 of this Law, it is not immediately discernable what new practical mechanism are in place or will be put in place to re-orientate the correct implementation of this Law in Lagos State to serve as an equitable model for other States in the federation, to emulate.
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