By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) has insisted it has the constitutional backing to collect the contentious tenements rate from house and business premises owners.
AMAC Chairman, Abdulahi Adamu Candido, echoed this view at a media parley in the wake of the pronouncement of the National Assembly Committee on FCT that the council should cease from further collecting the rates from the public.
Candido insisted that the local government Act of FCT 2006 and the Taxes and levies (Approved list of collection ) Act 2004, as well as the AMAC Tenement rate collection Bye Law 2012 also lay underlined the council’s claim.
He said he would defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and also appealed to all institutions and individuals occupying offices to strictly respect.
He said that AMAC had the power to collect, demand and enforce compliance in respect of to the payment of tenement rates within the area under the coverage of the council in accordance of Section 7 and 10 the fourth schedule of the Nigeria of 1999 as amended.
Candido also referred to previous judicial pronouncements, particularly the judgement delivered by Justice D.Z Senchi of the FCT Federal High Court on February 27, 2013 and the Appeal Court ruling made on May 12, 2014 in the Abuja Division, that expressly recognised and validated the legality of AMAC as a tier of government constitutionally and statutorily empowered to collect tenement rates within the area under the coverage of the council.
“As far as the municipality of Abuja is concerned, it is only AMAC that is mandated by the law of the land to collect tenement rates. We swore to defend the constitutional responsibility and will explore talks with the National Assembly that recently suggested the stoppage of this collection. There is no organisation and institution that can protect the sanctity of the constitution than the National Assembly,’’ he said.
Candido similarly objected to the policy initiated by a former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Malam Nasir El- Rufai, outlawing the council from collecting tenement rates.
He said the policy is arbitrary and in violation of the constitution. He also said the then minister intimidated and arm-twisted the previous administrations into arrangements that were against the interest of the council.
He insisted the council was not under any obligation to respect the law unilaterally imposed by an individual, adding that the federal law is supreme and above personal and institutional interest.
‘’We respect the authority of persons and the offices but the supremacy of an individual cannot be above the constitution of the land. My administration is not under any obligation to bow to the laws set by one person, ’’ Candido said.