Even though, the Lagos State Police Command threatened to arrest anyone seen on the streets protesting, members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, and civil society groups, protested against the Land Use Charge Law of Lagos State, 2018.
The protesters who were led by the NBA Chairman, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, stormed Yaba, Ojuelegba and Agege areas of the state to kick against the charge which they described as “satanic.”
The members vowed to sustain the protest until the government reversed the law.
The association had promised on Wednesday to stage the protest to welcome President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on a two-day visit to the state.
Meanwhile, in reaction to the move, however, the state police command had asked the NBA to shelve the protest, saying it was an attempt to disrupt the security put in place for the President’s visit.
The police threatened to arrest and prosecute the lawyers if they went ahead with the protest. But the members came out in their numbers on Thursday to stage the protest as planned.
Amid solidarity songs, they rallied around Agege, Ojuelegba, as well as Tejuosho Market and bus parks, in Yaba, distributing flyers to traders, drivers, passersby and policemen.
The flyers read, ‘NBA Ikeja branch says no to oppresive taxes; Lagosians reject Land Use Charge 2018 in totality,’ ‘Gov. Ambode, don’t kill Lagosians with excessive taxes,’ ‘This is democracy not military government; resist oppression.’
While addressing members of the public during the protest, Ogunlana said the Land Use Charge was made without recourse to the plight of the masses. He urged residents of the state to reject the charge and insist on its reversal.
He said, “Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch, supported by civil society organisations, is here to tell you that the Land Use Charge of Governor Ambode is a wicked, irresponsible, oppressive and toxic tax. “It is unconstitutional, arbitrary and undemocratic. It is a stern contempt which the Ambode administration owes Lagos people. They think they can do anything and get away with it.
“We are opposing it and encouraging the people to do so. We are sure that that law will not apply in Lagos State.
“The people in government have forgotten that we voted for them. They promised that life would be better for us. They said accommodation and food would be cheaper for us.
“Now they have come with satanic taxes. They said they want a smart city; do they want to take our lives?
“Lagosians must reject these taxes. Reject Land Use Charge; it will cause inflation and problem in the society.”
The President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Malachy Ugwummadu, said the Land Use Charge Law 2018 was passed with disregard for quality contributions from the public.
He said the NBA and other rights groups would resist any attempt to stifle criticisms of the law until the charge was reversed.
He said, “Our position has not changed and it is well founded. The whole tax regime was conceived in treachery, nurtured in mischief and delivered in perfidy. “The only way to engage such indiscretion is to continually sensitise the people to demand a reversal of the law. “The whole trajectory shows lack of sincerity. The NBA that is championing this course, together with other civil society groups including CDHR, is saying that if the
government wants quality inputs into the law, the people must be active participants.
“Yesterday (Wednesday), about 50 policemen besieged the NBA secretariat. It was around 8pm before we could rescue the chairman and other executive members. “What that shows is arm-twisting. What happened today (Thursday) is the resilience of Nigerian people and the clarity of our mission.”
The protest, which started around 3pm at Yaba, was concluded at Pen Cinema, Agege, at 5pm