Edo Court Stops Obaseki from Demanding, Collecting Land Use Charge

Adibe Emenyonu

The Edo High Court Sitting in Benin City, has stopped Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Edo State Geographic Information Service (GIS), from the collection of land use charge in the state, describing it as unconstitutional, null and void.
The judgement which was delivered by Justice Peter Akhihiero on April 25, 2022, was sequel to suit brought before him by the claimant, Chief Ferdinand Orbih.
Justice Akhihiero held that land use charge was an exclusive matter for the 18 local government areas in the state.
In the Judgement with suit No B/99D/2022, counsel to the claimant, Kinsley Obamogie had argued that by Section 7 (1) (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), the collection of what the Edo State government through a Law called Land Use Charge was the exclusive duties of the 18 local governments of the state specifically donated by the constitution, which does not allow any derogation whatsoever.
Obamogie specifically made reference to Paragraph 1(j) of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ,1999 (As Amended), that the Land Use Charge Law, 2012, was enacted by the Edo State House of Assembly in flagrant breach of Section 7 Subsection 1 and 5 and paragraph 1(j) of the Fourth Schedule to the constitution.
He submitted that the local governments cannot give up powers given to them by constitution to collect tenement rates through an agreement between the 18 local governments and Edo State Government, being an obligatory duty imposed by the constitution and he asked the court to grant the reliefs sought by the claimant.
Delivering the Judgement, Justice Peter Akinhiero, held among others that there was no written agreement presented to the court between the 18 local governments and the Edo State government delegating the powers to collect tenement rates to the state government.
The court then held that it was the ouster of express powers provided by the constitution, for the Land Use Change Law to give powers to the Edo State Government using the Edo GIS to collect Tenement Rates expressly donated by the constitution.
The court subsequently declared the Edo State Land Use Charge, Law 2012, which purports to take the powers from the local governments in Edo State to collect tenement rates was null and void
“Sequel to the foregoing, I hold that in the light of the provision of Section 7, sub-section 1and 5 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended ) and paragraph 1(j) of the fourth schedule to the aforesaid 1999 constitution the provision of section 3 (2), 5, 18, 24 and the identified parts of section 27, the land use charge law , 2012 of Edo State are unconstitutional , invalid, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.  I therefore resolved issue 1 in favor of the claimant,” he added.

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