Drama As Lagos Shuts 1004 Estates Over Land Use Charge

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Mild
drama ensued yesterday between the Lagos State government and the management of
1004 Estates Limited as the highbrow residential quarters was sealed off over
failure to remit the yearly Land Used Charge to the coffers of the government.

For the period the drama lasted,
residents of the estate could not go out while those who wanted to come in to
their apartments were locked out. National Mirror, gathered that the estate had
been reopened after mediation.

Our correspondent was also prevented
to speak with the residents by security men on duty, saying “It is only the
administration staff of the estate that can speak over it.” the Managing
Director of 1004 Estate Limited, Mr. Sam Ukpong, who spoke with National Mirror
on the phone, confirmed the story.

He said the estate was sealed over
non-remittance of Land Use Charge which his firm could no longer pay, owing to
the uncooperative attitude of the residents. 1004 Estates is the largest
residential estate in Nigeria, comprising 1004 flats on Victoria Island, Lagos.
Ukpong explained that the residents
had refused to pay the charge due to them, stressing that instead of the
government to collect the money from the residents, who are owners of the
flats, it was always passing the bill to his company.
He added that the apartments belonged
to individual owners and not the company, saying that the residents owed it as
an obligation to pay their charges. Before now, he said the company had made
payment on behalf of the residents and when it became obvious that they are not
ready to pay, “we have to leave them alone for government to pass the bill to
them.”
He said: “For example, earlier, we
paid the sum of N10m on behalf of the residents to the state government but
they are not forthcoming to pay up.
“And I think each flat is supposed to
pay at least N20,000. Nobody can pay something on behalf of another without
refund.
So residents can go to government
directly to pay. We have given government their particulars because the estate
belongs to them.” The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr.
Aderemi Ibirogba, who confirmed the development, said that the owners of the structures
had been defaulting in performing their obligation.
“We wouldn’t have embarked on such
action if the owners of the structures voluntarily comply with the remittance
of the Land Use charge. “What we did was to serve as warning to others who may
wish to default in remitting the fund into the coffers of the government.
“We will continue to enforce the law,
just as we will not relent in intensifying our advocacy programme to ensure
that the citizens of the state understand the importance of the fund to the
state government,” he said. He added that the state government had issued
several notices and warnings before embarking on the action. “Before getting to
that stage, we have given them notices. What we have just seen is clear
indication that nobody is above the law in Lagos State. Although the place has
since been reopened,” he added.
When asked how much was the owners
defaulted in paying to the state government, the commissioner, said: “All I can
tell you is that they defaulted in the payment of the Land Use Charge, although
the estates have since been reopened.
“We expect members of the public to
cooperate with us. When residents of the state remit their tax to the
government, the government will be able to provide the needed infrastructure in
the state,” the commissioner added. 1004 Estates used to be a status symbol. It
was a well-planned, purposebuilt residential facility for top government
officials, including members of the National Assembly during the Second
Republic.
But after the government’s divestment,
it was bought by a private consortium which redesigned it, upgrade its
infrastructural facilities before selling to individual buyers. The estate,
built on 11-hectare of land, became the hottest property with a two-bedroom
maisonette going for as much as N25m, while three-bedroom attracted a higher
price.

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