Court Nullify Tenement Rates Collection in Abuja
Property owners and occupiers in Abuja and its environs have at last heaved sigh of relief as a high court in the territory prohibited the six area councils in the FCT from collecting tenement rate from house owners.
The court also nullified and set aside, the various bylaws enacted by the area councils to give legal teeth to the tenement rate collection as part of their internal revenue generating drive
Delivering judgment in a suit instituted by Planned Shelter Ltd on behalf of property owners in the FCT, Justice Valentine Ashi held that the six area Councils led Abuja Municipal Area councils (AMAC) have no power and capacity to assess, determine, demand and legislate on tenement rate without strict compliance with the provision of section 1 of the 4th schedule of the 1999 constitution
The judge said that the by-laws enacted by the area councils for the purpose tenement tax were usurpation of functions donated to the National Assembly by the Constitution
Specifically, justice Ashi said the various by-laws by the six area councils are un-constitutional, null and void because they constituted a breach of section 1 of the 4th schedule to the 1999 constitution
All actions taken or set to be taken by the area councils connected with the collection of tenement rates from any person or entity within the FCT were nullified, set aside and rendered ineffectual by the court.
The court prohibited all the area councils in the FCT from taking further steps whatsoever aimed at giving effect to the purported by-laws for the collection of tenement rates from any person or entity pending when the national assembly shall give effect to the provision of section 1 of the 4th schedule of the 1999 constitution.
“An Area Council in the FCT is equivalent to a local government Area in a state in the light of section 318  of the constitution
“By virtue of section 299 [a], the national assembly is conferred with exclusive legislative competence over and in respect of the FCT.
“However, until the National Assembly amends or enact another law to replace the Local Government Act, it remains the law in force the governs the Area Councils, as an existing law, within orbit of the provisions of section 315 of the constitution and in reading and applying its provision, even by the court, it must be read with such modifications as may be necessary to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the constitution.