By Matthew Denis
The Kwara State High Court has delivered judgement granting the Kwara Internal Revenue Service (KW-IRS) with the right to collect tenement rates across the state.
The judgement was delivered on 12th February, 2019 in suit KWS/180/2017 against the residents of Ita-Amon/Oke-Foma to Oko-Olowo of Ilorin axis who challenged the agency’s legitimate right to collect payment on Land Charge and Tenement Rate.
The case between Alhaji Ahmed Abdul and 9 others and Attorney-General of Kwara State & 5 Others was presented before His Lordship, Honourable Justice M. Abdulgafar.
The court dismissed the case after the claimants’ refusal to tender satisfactory evidence in support of their case that they are not liable to pay the Land Charge and Tenement Rate, coupled with the perceived outrageous bill.
Following the letters and Demand Notices distributed on January/February 2017 by the KWIRS, the occupants of Oko-Olowo axis challenged the legality of the action by maintaining that the agency lacks the authority to collect levies after payment has been compulsorily acquired by the Local Government Authorities.
In his words, the Counsel to the claimants stated that “the rates being charged are outrageous, arbitrary and in total disregard of line of method of carrying out such exercise”.
One of the defendant’s staff, Mr Raheem Sharafdeen in his argument, explained that KWIRS is the solitary agency authorised by Law to mobilise revenue in Kwara State.
He stated that all levies are calculated in agreement to the Land Charge Law and Rates approved by the Government of the State which is contrary to the claimants’ argument.
“There are steps to be taken before charges are levied. Our teams assess the land, generate a Demand Notice which the payee may challenge within thirty (30) days, and also there is 10% discount for payment within 30 days”, he added.
Hon. Justice Abdulgafar ruled in favour of the Service by declaring that the Land Charge is not a breach of constitution of the Federation neither has it contravened the Land Use Act.
“… I therefore hold the view that the Kwara State Land Charge Law is not in conflict or inconsistent with the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, Hon. Justice M. Abdulgafar pronounced.
Having resolved all issues in favour of the defendants, the court dismissed the case and stated that the claimants’ case was devoid of merit. He ordered the complainants to act in accordance with the order.