REPORT OF CIVIL LIBERTIES ORGANISATION (CLO’S), AKWA IBOM STATE BRANCH PARTICIPATION IN A ONE-DAY PUBLIC HEARING ORGANISED BY THE UYO LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL TO DISCUSS 17 DEVELOPMENT BASED BYLAWS ON TUESDAY, 26TH JANUARY, 2021 AT THE UYO COUNCIL HALL.

INTRODUCTION:
On the Monday, 25th January, 2021, invitation was extended to the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Akwa Ibom State Branch by the Uyo Local Government Council through the Council Secretary, Mr. Ubong Udofia, to a public hearing organised by the Uyo Local Government Legislative Council for the purpose of discussing 17 Development Based Bylaws that will help generate revenue for the Uyo Local Government Council.

Some of the Bylaws are those touching on rates, tenement rates, bicycle, radio, television licences etc. Others were shops, kiosks restaurants, parks, public health centres, dumping of refuse, naming of street and numbering of houses, market tickets, bicycles tickets, motorcycles tickets etc.

There were messages of goodwill from the leader of Uyo Legislative Council who was the host and from the Executive Chairman of Uyo Local Government, Dr. Uwemedimo Udo and several other stakeholders.

After the introduction of the 17 Bills by the Leader of Uyo Legislative Council, then came comments from those who were invited, while the CLO was represented by her Legal Secretary, Comrade (Barr.) Eyibio Okon.

Inputs:
1) CLO observed that contents of the Bills were not new as they were all lifted from the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and wondered how Uyo local government council had been collecting taxes over the years without the enabling Bylaws domestigating the provisions of the 4th Schedule to the Constitution in the local government council.

2) CLO thanked the present Uyo Legislative Council for coming up with the Bills to put things in proper perspective in line with the law for the inhabitants of Uyo local government.

3) CLO observed that local government councils in the country have suffered several constitutional bureaucracies especially Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution of FRN that ties most of the activities of the local governments to the approval and directive or direction of the House of Assembly thereby rendering the local government legislature helpless in those functions.

4) CLO noted that there are several judicial interpretations in relation to who should hold or keep the funds of the Local Government. The above situations have caused greedy State governors to illegally hijack the funds of local governments hiding under section 162 of the 1999 constitution of the FRN with respect to local government/state joint account. With this unfortunate development, the need for local governments’ officials in the country to begin to look for other means of generating revenue outside the Federal Allocations cannot be overemphasized.

5) CLO urged residents of Uyo to support Uyo Local Government by paying their taxes as at when due so as to aid the developmental strides of the local government.

6) CLO advised the local government council officials that the best way to sensitize the people to pay their taxes apart from radio and television is to show capacity through prudent management of the local government funds by providing the required social amenities which these funds are meant for.

7) CLO observed that there are some duplications in the Bills as the Akwa Ibom State government is already collecting taxes in some of the items listed in the Bills, which are items like; Wrong parking, restaurants, parks, health centres and tickets for motorcycles and the likes.

8) CLO advised that by the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the FRN, State governments are also empowered to collect taxes on some of these items. Since the law frowns at double taxation, CLO urged the Uyo Legislative Council to harmonise these areas of conflict to safeguard the citizenry, avoid unnecessary litigations with especially corporate bodies and conflict with the Government of Akwa Ibom State.

9) CLO pledged her continuous partnership to the Uyo local government council and offer her legal services in the event that the council wishes to redraft the Bills in order to harmonise all areas of conflict with the State government.

Signed
Otuekong Franklyn Isong
Chairman

Comrade (Barr.) Eyibio Okon
Legal Secretary

Dated: 27th January, 2021.

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