In a move that may discredit the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Jimi Agbaje, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, yesterday, accused the PDP candidate’s company, Jaykay Pharmacy, of owing the state N1.6 million in unpaid land use charges. He advised the people of the state to beware of the tax evader when they cote in next month’s governorship election.
Fashola made the allegation at the 8th Annual Lagos State taxation Stakeholders’ Conference held in Ikeja. He explained that Land Use Charge (LUC) was a consolidated tax combining ground rent and tenement rate. “Tax is prescribed by the 1999 constitution. It states that it shall be the duty of every citizen to declare its income to the appropriate and lawful agency; and pay the required tax promptly.”
He accused Agbaje’s pharmacy of defaulting in the payment of land use charge, saying, “you will remember that in 2007, he (Jimi Agbaje) claimed that he was in Democratic People’s Alliance, DPA and later crossed to PDP. You know that he (Agbaje) manages a pharmacy called Jaykay Pharmacy, located at 9, Randle Close, Apapa Local Government. His pharmacy has not paid Land Use Charge for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively; it amounts to N1, 629, 064.62.
“Let us do that mathematics to see how many facilities the fund would have provided in our hospitals and stationery in our schools. But this was the same person who was complaining that the state government spent three per cent of its budget on Primary education. Local Government is responsible for the management of the primary schools and yet he has withheld their taxes.”
The governor accused Agbaje of ensuring the pharmacy paid LUC in 2013 and 2014 because he realized that the election would be holding in 2015.
“I know that you have to vote next month but look at that candidate that would need to take over from me and be careful of who you vote for. This is the man who wants to be your next governor. I will advice you that you avoid deception and tax evaders.”
In a swift reaction, Agbaje, however, described Fashola’s allegations as false. According to him, Fashola lied. “I have even been commended for paying my Land Use Charge on time.”
Speaking further at the Conference, Fashola explained the importance of taxation, saying “The payment of tax is the first principle of the social contracts between the government and the citizens. It is an irreducible legal minimum of citizenship and breach of this responsibility is a criminal offence under our law.
“All those who have paid their taxes have shown that they are lawful citizens. Anyone who has failed to pay tax is a bad citizen. He is also a cheat, such a person benefits from the commonwealth-the roads, hospitals and other facilities provided by funds generated from taxes paid by the residents,” he said.