Three associations conducting businesses at the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, Lagos Badagry Expressway, Lagos are seeking to restrain the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area (LGA), Lagos State from imposing levies and dues on their members.
They have filed a suit, marked LD/5291C-CMW/18, against the LGA before an Igbosere High Court in Lagos.
The first to third claimants are: The Registered Trustees of Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association, The Registered Trustees of Balogun Business Association (BBA) and The Registered Trustees of Association of Progressive Traders (APT).
The defendant in the suit is the Chairman, Amuwo-Odofin LGA.
The claimants, in a June 4, 2018 statement of claim filed through their counsel, Mr Kehinde Yekeen, are seeking five reliefs:
“A declaration that the premises where claimants members carry on business is a federal government territory and does not fall under the control, or regulation of the defendant’s local government or other local governments in Lagos.
“A declaration that the provisions of the bye-laws and other revenue generation policies of the Amuwo-Odofin LGA does not have territorial application in areas marked and demarked as Federal Government of Nigeria lands and territory within the state.
“A declaration that an attempt by a defendant to force the claimants of their members to pay local levies and dues to the defendant’s local government Is unconstitutional unlawful and of the effect
“A perpetual order restraining the defendant, their agents privies and representative or other persons and through them from further interfering with the claimants activities by forcing their members to register and pay local dues and levies to the defendant government.
The first claimant is the umbrella body of all the auto spare parts and machinery dealer association (ASPAMDA) located at ASPAMDA Plaza.
The second claimant is the umbrella body of all members of Balogun Business Association (BBA). Its members deal in cosmetics, beverages, wines, textiles, footwear, handbag, electronics, clothing, provisions and household goods.
The third claimant is the umbrella body of all Association of Progressive Traders (APT) and its members deal in jewelry, jewelry accessories and fashion accessories.
The associations averred in their statement of claim that they came into possession of the land by Head Lease Agreements with the Lagos International Trade Management Board (Acting as the agent of the Federal Republic of Nigeria).
The land was thus let out to the claimants as federal land “for a term certain and under a yearly ground rent,” following which the Federal Government created the Lagos International Trade Management Board Act of 1997 to, inter alia, manage, the activities at the Trade Fair Complex.
They averred further that they had been paying ground rents to the federal government via the Trade Fair Management Board as its authorised agent.
They averred among others, that at meetings with the defendant, they reiterated “the fact that their associations are not covered by the categories of person and business in which the Amuwo-Odofin LGA business levies and taxes is applicable to and the fact the claimants are carrying on business on a federal land.”
They said their members were breadwinners of their families and the defendant’s threats could negatively affect their businesses and livelihoods.
The defendant is yet to file a defence to the suit and no date has been fixed for hearing.