Traders at the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex have rejected a plan by the Amowu Odofin Local Government Area, Lagos State, to take over the collection of toll at the main entrance to the complex.
In a statement by the lead counsel to Trade Fair Stakeholders Forum (TFSF), Mr Olaseyi Yekini, the traders described such plan as an abuse of office and disregard of the rule of law.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, had last week, issued approval for Amuwo-Odofin LGA of Lagos State to take over toll collection at the trade fair complex despite a subsisting court order.
According to Yekini, it was shocking that a minister, “under an administration championing rule of law, will approve that a local council takes over authority at a federal establishment wholly under the Exclusive Reserve of the Federal Government.
“Under the 1999 constitution, as amended, no local government has powers to collect taxes or tolls in a federal establishment. There are many federal establishments in parts of the country and Lagos State and none has ever been taxed or tolled by a local government.”
Giving examples, Yekini said: “In Lagos State, there is the National Theatre, TBS, seaports and Ikeja airport. None is being tolled by host local government. It is, therefore, a clear aberration and abuse of rule of law for Amuwo-Odofin LGA to come to the trade fair complex to collect toll.
“The constitution clearly states areas where local governments are allowed to collect taxes. Federal establishments, including Lagos Trade Fair Complex, is not part of it.”
Local governments only collect taxes and tolls on facilities on Residual Lists of which trade fair complex is not one.’
The lawyer alleged that Amuwo Odofin council has concluded arrangements to start toll collection at the main gate into the trade fair complex from January 1, 2019, and this is unacceptable as it must be met with stiff resistance.
“The matter is in court and will be subjudice. Traders at Lagos Trade Fair Complex have resolved to resist it.”
Also, chairman of TFSF, Chief Jude Okenwa, said there had been a legal and standing tax and toll collection structure in the trade fair complex, in line with what obtains in a federal-controlled facility.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the plan by the trade & commerce minister and Amuwo Odofin LGA to start collecting toll at the complex from January 1, 2019.