By Nwogha Ndubuisi, Abakaliki
Ebonyi State Commissioner for Capital City and Urban Development, Barr. Peter Onyekachi Nwebonyi has called all the landlords in the state to comply with the government directive on the payment of their tenement rates to avoid attracting the wrath of the law.
The Commissioner made the call on Monday 20th September,2021 during his meeting with the leadership of Ebonyi state Landlords Association in his office at Abakaliki.
He explained that his office earlier had meetings with the landlords but further called them again to know the level of compliance as the expected feedback by the government was not forthcoming.
Nwebonyi who described the payment of tenment rate as a statutory mandate for every landlord in the state, said that his office is determined to making Abakaliki capital city a number one city in the comity of capital cities in Nigeria.
“On the point we discussed last, purely on the payment of tenantment rate, it goes without saying, that it’s a statutory mandate of every landlord to pay to the government a tenantment rate from the house rents he or she collected from a tenant.
“We are aware that in Abakaliki today that a minimum of which one can get a flat is between 300,000 and 350,000 Naira, and how much is government demanding from that payment; just 10,000 Naira per flat.
“So, if a landlord can comfortably collect 300,000 or 350,00 and even 400,000 Naira, per flat, why can’t that landlord coffer out just 10,000 Naira for government?
“It is not a big deal for a landlord to coffer 10,000 from 350,000 or 400, 000 Naira collected from the tenants to pay tenantment rate, and if it’s one room, the tenantment rate is not more than 1,500, just per room,” Nwebonyi said.
On the government directive to renovate the major roads and streets in Abakaliki capital city, Nwebonyi stated that, all the landlords must renovate their structures to meet up with the present standard, saying that the buildings are along Ogoja, Afikpo, water works, Udensi, Abakaliki-Enugu-Ogoja high way.
He said, the state government is not ready to allow dirty buildings, those in a leakage shape, leaking roofs in the capital city especially on the major streets, after building roads and street lights, insisted that the landlords should not expected to leave their structures without renovation and collecting rents from the tenants.
Nwebonyi urged the leaders of the landlords to call for a meeting and educate their members on the need to comply with the state government’s directives, gave them November 30 as a deadline to complete the renovation of their buildings because of the rainy season.
He equally informed the landlords that any building within the streets not renovated till the expiration of the time would be sealed and the defaulters will be taken to the court to pay a fine not less than one million Naira.
He advised the landlords to use the money they would have paid as fine in the court to renovate their building and to clear their tenantment rate.
The Commissioner expressed happiness over the presence of the presemen during the meeting with the leadership of the landlords, pointing that, “in most cases people find it difficult to abide by the government directive but when we use a sledge hammer on the defaulters, the impression of the public is always negative on the side.”
He therefore, stated that the statutory taxes must be observed by the landlords, urging the leadership of the landlords to enforce the directive on the tenantment rate by getting the money before handing it over to the government to use for the payment of the workforce and the development of the state.
In their responses, the President General of the Landlords Association in the State, Chief Augustine Okoye, his members, Chief Boniface Chukwuneke Ezeadikwa, among others pledged a continuous support to the state government, though complained that the majority of the landlords especially the big men have refused to register with them.
They, however, promised to comply with the directives on the payment of the tenement rate, and to renovate their buildings while begging the state government to extend the deadline for the renovation to March 2022.