Land Use Act: Lagos Executive-Legislative Parley Urges Application Of Appropriate Solutions
May 15, 2009 - The Third Lagos Executive-Legislative Parley Friday gave a recipe for an effective Land Reform in the country saying the way to go is to reform the administrative processes involved with the operation of the Land Use Act by applying contemporary technology instead of repealing the Act.
The Parley with the theme, “Getting our Reform Priorities Right”, organized by the Political and Legislative Power Bureau of the Governor’s office had in attendance, the State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) who led other members of the State Executive Council to the meeting also attended by the Speaker, Right Honourable Adeyemi Ikuforiji and members of the State House of Assembly, the State’s National Assembly Lawmakers as well as top chieftains of the Action Congress.
In a communiqué it issued at the end of its three day meeting at the Peninsula Resort on Lagos – Epe Expressway, Ajah, the Forum noted that although reforms are necessary, the remedies taken must address the problems, noting with regret that this is not the case with the current efforts to amend the Land Use Act.
In the 13-point communiqué, the Forum argued that the need to improve land and security of title, cost of obtaining Governor’s Consent and delays in the process of perfection as advanced by proponents of the amendment as reasons are not inherent failures of the Act which can be remedied by statutory amendment.
Noting that the charges like Capital Gains Tax, Stamp Duty and Personal Income Tax are imposed not by the Land Use Act but by other legislations of the National Assembly, the Forum declared, “The issue of security of title is best addressed by paying more attention to our Registration of Title Law and the processes of obtaining the Certificate of Occupancy, adding that delays can also be addressed by computerization of land titling and registration processes as well as the use of more tamperproof certificate which can have enscripted information.
“The requirement of Governor’s Consent is the normal incidence of the radical title vested on the Governors on behalf of the people of Nigeria”, the Forum further noted, adding that it is even a standard feature of leases where the landlord reserves the right to consent to subleases.
Stressing that Land is a Residual matter that is not within the legislative competence of the National Assembly, the Forum resolved that the power should be retained to ensure effective monitoring of land transaction and planning functions of the State Government.
The Forum also resolved that the best way to achieve electoral reform is to enforce the existing electoral laws noting that in spite of amending the electoral laws and renaming the electoral body several times, the problem of elections, including violence, intimidation, ballot box stuffing, falsification or forgery of results and other kinds of rigging have remained.
“The non-enforcement of the laws has led to the impunity and perpetuation of electoral fraud over the years regardless of the prevailing legislation”, the Forum said urging all relevant agencies to take steps to ensure the arraignment, prosecution, conviction and punishment of electoral offenders if free and fair elections are ever to happen in Nigeria.
Noting that most of the allegations of electoral malpractices are against INEC, the Forum called for the amendment of Section 158(2) of the Electoral Act which confers the power to prosecute electoral offenders on legal officers of the electoral body suggesting instead that the power be conferred on the Attorneys General of the relevant states or the Federal Attorney General in the case of the FCT.
It also called for the amendment of the provision of the Electoral Act in order to recognize the rights of a private prosecutor to initiate criminal prosecution for offences committed under the Act pointing out that this would empower independent and fair minded private prosecution of electoral offences by public spirited individuals and non-governmental agencies while the power to grant fiat to prosecute should be vested in the State Attorneys General.
On Police Sector Reform, the Forum said the current situation whereby there are about 300, 000 policemen to a population of 140 million is unacceptable as the country is grossly under-policed.
It, therefore, advocated constitutional amendments to allow state government involvement in recruitment, deployment and training in keeping with the nation’s accepted constitutional principles of federalism and state autonomy while ensuring that the training of both federal and state-controlled police should be uniform and standardized throughout the country.
“Since the constitution gives states and local government distinct and exclusive areas of legislative competence, these tiers of government should be given the wherewithal to enforce the legislation made by the State House of Assembly in furtherance of these constitutional powers”, the Forum said.
According to the Forum, “The establishment of state police outfit will lead to improved equipping, motivation, funding and performance of the police nationwide while creating employment by creating thousands of new jobs for young, able-bodied persons currently unemployed. Furthermore, the creation of a state police contingent will also facilitate easy coordination of prosecutorial service and ensure that officers of state police contingent are directly responsible and accountable to State Governments in the performance of their duties through the State Commissioner of Police”.
Also in attendance at the well attended Parley were Senators representing the Three Senatorial Districts of the State, members of the House of Representatives representing the State’s Constituencies, the Deputy Governor, members of the State Executive Council, Speaker and all the members of the State House of Assembly, key leaders of the Action Congress as well as members of the academic community and the Private Sector.