Aba Landlords Protection and Development Association (ALPADA) has directed its members to look for credible choices to vote for, during Saturday, March 18, 2023 Governorship/House of Assembly elections.
They said that Okezie Ikpeazu, the outgoing governor of Abia State that is sponsoring Okechukwu Ahaiwe, as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, could not be trusted, was unrealistic and engaged in acts that were negative to good governance, hence its decision not to rally behind it for continuation.
During its March 8 monthly meeting, held at Unubi Hall, Ngwa Road, Aba, members of the ALPADA, led by Alphonsus Udeigbo, in a resolution, had levelled various allegations against the government, ranging from lack of trust, fraudulent practices in internal revenue collection to not being reliable in honouring agreements.
They also accused the administration of being deceitful, engaging in intimidation, harassment while imposing and collecting multiple taxations from Aba residents, as well as failing to redeem pledges made by the Governor, and other officials of his administration.
Excerpts of resolution read: “It is on record that we are the only Association in Abia State, that made it compulsory that all our members must pay their property rates to the Government of Abia State, via the Board of Internal Revenue (B.I.R), and we do not demand for commissions.
“In 2016, we spent over ₦1million in hosting Governor Okezie Ikpeazu at the Christ the King Catholic Diocese (C.K.C.) of Aba, the sponsorship of which was 100 percent borne by our association. But in the same 2016, we made only one request to the Governor of Abia State, to the effect that we want to pay property taxes to the Government directly and not through any agent, which the Governor, approved, there and then, and directed us to come to Government House Umuahia, which we did, and he called the then Chairman, Board of Internal Revenue (B.I.R.), Ogbonna Udochukwu, who at the instance of the Governor, directed us to pay through the consolidated Window called Abiapluc.
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“From 2016 to 2019, we made a total payment on behalf of our members to the tune of Nine Million, Eight Hundred and Sixty Two Thousand Naira (N9,862,000) and the Abiapluc told us that they lodged the money in the bank instalmentally, giving us automated bank print out of which majority of them turned out to be fraudulent documents, as out of these money we paid, only (N1,137,000) was paid into the Government account and the U.B.A. Plc confirmed it, whereas (N8,725,000) was diverted into the private purse of staff of the Abiapluc and the fraudulent purported bank automated receipt were given to us and to our members.
“By July 27, 2020, we wrote a petition to Ikpeazu, which we ensured was duly received in his office on the July 28, 2020, and coppies of the same letter was addressed to the Deputy Governor and Chairman Internally Generated Revenue (I.G.R.) Abia State and another to the Chairman, State Board of Internal Revenue (B.I.R.), Ogbonna Udochukwu, but up till today, they did nothing about the issue.
“Despite the fact that we paid to the Abiapluc, and obtained the bank automated receipt from Abiapluc, agents of Aba South Local Government Area, went on to sue our members before the Aba Na Ohazu Customary Court, for nonpayment of Property Rate.
“We engaged a lawyer to defend our members, the State Government sent their lawyer to contest the right of Aba South L.G.A, to institute the action.
“At the end of the matter, the Court gave judgment and said that it was the duty of the Local Government, to collect property rate from Landlords according to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Amended) and not the State government.
“The Government of Abia State, did not refund our members any money rather they insisted that our members must continue paying them the property Rate which is one of the items in the consolidated Abiapluc.”
The group said it again sued Abia State Government in 2017 against the collection of infrastructure levy which it viewed as multiple taxation, in an Aba High Court, but regretted that up till time of the meeting, the Government had been unwilling to file its defense in the matter but had continued serving revenue payment Demand Notices, including infrastructural levy, to the Landlords.
The resolution which was signed by Leonard Onyemesiri, acting president general, and Benson Imoh, secretary general, recalled that Abia State Government under Ikpeazu, had severally assured ALPADA of its commitment to complete the Ohanku Road, Obohia and especially the Port Harcourt Road, where the contractors destroyed many buildings, from number 1 to around 580 buildings in Port-Harcourt Road, in which they claimed to be constructing a 6 Lane instead of 4 Lane highway.
According to the resolution, “More than 20 of our members whose houses were affected in the pulling down without compensation, have died, with others in stroke and yet many others suffering other health challenges, due to the facts that the income they were receiving from their buildings are no longer coming.
“As a result of the above actions, the PDP-led Government in the state has caused massive reduction of members of our association from 4,822 in 2018 to 1328 active participant in 2023, which made it look like the executives of the association are part of these fraudulent scheme, which almost tarnished the image of Aba Landlords Protection and Development Association (ALPADA).
“We are therefore, saying loudly that we have no confidence in the PDP-led Government in Abia State,” they said.