Tenement rates are land use charges imposed on erected buildings developed by landowners in order to generate the revenue necessary for the development of infrastructures and social amenities in every society. In Nigeria, the Local government is saddled with the odious responsibility of its implementation, however, this has been greatly abused by those at the helm of affairs who have unwittingly converted this exercise to a personal business venture.
A clear epitome of this irregularity can be seen in Oshimili South Local Government, Delta State as reports reaching SecretReporters reveal that one covetous Mr Okonta Augustine devised a means to channel the internally generated revenue into his personal account as a share of the national cake. Usurping the tenement rates by this government official undermines the autonomy and development of local government areas in the state.
Evidence made available to our newsroom shows that a 7 days reminder on tenement rate for the year 2018 was sent to the resident of Mr Ovo Osirueme and other landowners on the 1st of November, 2018 stating that the recipients pay the sum of N10, 000 to an individual account that is in no way connected to the government with Account name: Okonta Augustine, Account number: 6018684417, Fidelity Bank after which the receipt should be obtained at the Local Government.
This act clearly negates the already established law guiding tenement rates as contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979, as amended, which stipulates that; “…. no person, other than the appropriate tax authority, shall assess or collect, on behalf of the Government, any tax or levy listed in the Schedule to this. Decree and members of the Nigeria Police Force shall only be used in accordance with the provisions of the tax laws”.
In the light of the recent clamour for local government autonomy, the need for individuals with unquestionable character and accountability at the helm of affairs cannot be overemphasized as it is the only factor that can guarantee the proper use of these funds when local government officials become in total control of it.