EDOCSOs vow to drag Obaseki, LG heads, others to court over ‘illegal ticketing’

EDOCSOs vow to drag Obaseki, LG heads, others to court over ‘illegal ticketing’

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Edo Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSOs) have vowed to sue Edo State Government over ‘illegal ticketing’ and other rates by their agents from motorists operating outside motor parks on daily basis across the State in contravention of the Fourth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Governor Godwin Obaseki, Edo State Inland Revenue Service and Heads of Local Government Administration (HOLGA) in the State, may be joined in the suit as defendants.

The resolution was reached at the General meeting of all affiliate Organizations and study Centres of EDOCSOs on Saturday in Benin City, Edo State Capital arising from complaints of alleged Human Rights abuse by some revenue enforcers in the State.

Interim TEC Chairman of EDOCSOs, Bishop Osadolor Ochei adopted the submission at the end of lecture delivered by a Benin-based Property and Human Rights Lawyer, Barr. Dele Igbinedion.

According to Ochei, “What am I going to negotiate? I am no longer going to write petitions. When we are ready, we will take them to court to challenge the Local Government as to who gave them authority to be stopping vehicles and embarrassing passersby on the road to collect money. If they want to collect revenue, they should go to motor parks”.

But the Constitution empowers Local Government to collect rates, revenues from commuters at motor parks including vehicle radio licence fees (to be imposed by the Local Government of the State in which the car is registered).

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Also included in the law are wrong parking charges, Public convenience, sewage and refuse disposal fees.

Others are Customary burial ground permit fees, Religious places establishment permit fees, signboard and Advertisement permit fees.

Speaking on the topic: “Laws of Land”, Igbinedion, identified five ways to prove land ownership in Nigeria. They are traditional evidence, by title document(s) otherwise called Deeds of Transfer, By Acts of Ownership, By Acts of long possession and proof of possession.

He advised prospective land buyers and potential property developers in Edo State “to be extremely circumspect in acquiring lands (properties) from Villages/Communities by tracing the roots of lands to their original owners before they enter into any agreement with prospective sellers”, adding that “most Communal lands do not have a valid root of titles to the original owner(s) in the Deeds of conveyance”.

He explained that “There is no land that is vacant as Community-owned land. Although, there are some lands that are clearly defined as entirely Community-owned, even though some lands are allocated to individuals as inheritance”.

Igbinedion clarified that apart from lands that accompanied the traditional stool, before the enactment of Land Use Act of 1978, most of the lands in Benin Kingdom had been owned by individuals and it will remained so.

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“Since the demand for land use became high in Benin, land speculators have driven the cost of land very high”, according to the Legal practitioner.

The legal practitioner who gave an overview of land acquisition and ownership from ancient to contemporary times in Nigeria, described the Land Use Act, as a useless piece of legislature which has devalued land as a resource that can be grabbed indiscriminately by state actors.

According to him, courts in Edo State are divided over the applicability of laws on land allotment due to the fusion occasioned by ownership of Land Use Act.

“More worrisome is that most land defenders in Edo State are suddenly become Vigilantes; and I find this incongruous. You can imagine that if we do not curtail this, where will Edo State be in the next few years.

“I am looking at it from the point of Human Rights. How can a person who has just finished Cannabis Sativa (weeds) enforce the Right of another person?, he queried.

He further frowned at the alleged reports of extortion by some members of Edo State Vigilante Network who sometimes carryout stop-and-search on roads and demand money from motorists to enable them buy bullets and take care of their basic needs because they do not have monthly salaries.
How can a Country or a State make progress with that?

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“We are solving immediate problems for now and we are creating a monster for the future”, he said.

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