• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Property tax defaulters in FCT to face legal action

Property tax defaulters in FCT to face legal action

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has vowed to clamp down on property tax defaulters, including instituting a court action that would ensure they either pay up or lose such properties.

Disclosing this at a press meeting on Wednesday, Muhammad Hazat Sule, director of information and communication, FCT, expressed concerns about huge tax debt at a time the government is cash-strapped and struggling to source funds for infrastructure and services.

There has been a recent push from the Senate to ensure that owners of completed but uninhabited buildings in the FCT are compelled to pay property taxes.

The concern was against the backdrop of the growing number of uninhabited residential buildings in the FCT, many of which have been completed for years without occupants; yet no appropriate taxes, denying the government the much needed revenues for development.

In his response to a BusinessDay question, Sule acknowledged that the issues around property tax and other obligations in the capital city have dragged on for too long and regretted that most Nigerians do not want to pay.

He said for instance, so much is being owed as ground rate, and that the FCT minister, Muhammad Bello is now determined to ensure that those monies are recovered and defaulters punished. He said a majority of those defaulters are the rich, who live in the highbrow areas like Asokoro, Maitama among others.

“Most of the people owe ground rate and in fact, we have an outstanding of N29 billion and the FCT minister had to set up a ministerial committee to recover this money.

“Out of the N29 billion, a large chunk is in Asokoro, and Maitama districts, not where poor people stay. I’m happy that the committee is working and some of them have started responding,” he said.

He said the government needs money to maintain Abuja, to provide infrastructure and services.

“This administration is determined to take them to court. In fact, some people have already been taken to court, and if you don’t pay, the court is going to order for the forfeiture of those properties,” he warned.

Read also: Akwa Ibom goes tough on tax defaulters, pickets GTB branches in Uyo

He said about 413 defaulters have been sifted in the first batch while some have already been served court summons, warning that those found guilty could lose their properties.

“If after the court process, they don’t pay, they will forfeit those properties to the government whether they are built or not.

“We need money to be able to give the citizens those world-class services they yearn for, but some people are not prepared to pay taxes, and that is why we have opted for a court action,” he stated, noting that “people don’t need to be dragged, forced, and coerced before they do the right things.

The director also assured the residents of FCTA’s commitment to complete all ongoing projects withstanding the current revenue challenge.

He also spoke of improved security surveillance in the FCT with the procurement of modern security gadgets and operational equipment for security agencies.

In the area of health care delivery, he said there are efforts to resuscitate the abandoned 240-bed Utako District Hospital. In addition, the Bello-led administration has introduced automated registration of private healthcare facilities to check incidences of quackery.

In the education sector, a major challenge has been the safety of pupils and students in public schools, and according to him, the FCT administration has taken measures to install security gadgets in all those schools.

On traffic management, the Directorate of Road Traffic Services has introduced an electronic device for tracking traffic rules violations, which is expected to bring sanity to the motoring public in the capital city, he further noted.