Rent control is a residual matter under the 1999 consti
tution. As a result, most of the states in Nigeria have their individual rent control laws. The abuse by landlords in unlawfully evicting their tenants necessitated the Rent Control And Recovery of Residential Premises law, to seek to protect all tenancies to which this law applies. It is worthy of note that the protection afforded tenancies by this law is not intended to deprive a landlord of the fruits of his/her investment in real estate. But rather the protection only requires that a tenant should only loose his tenancy after due recovery procedure and process are complied with by the landlord.
But though rent control law exists, it has largely remained a dormant most tenants are left to suffer in the hands of their landlords who in the absence of any control, exploit the situation with arbitrary increase in the monthly or annual rent on their property. Under Section 37 of the Lagos State Tenancy law 2011, a tenant can apply to court for a declaration that the increase in rent is unreasonable and the court has power to determine whether or not the same is reasonable, taking due cognizance of the rent payable in similar apartments in the locality. If the court is satisfied that the increase is unreasonable, it can change it to a specific amount. Please note that under this law, if an action is pending in court challenging the reasonability of an increase in rent, it is unlawful for the landlord to eject the tenant pending the determination of the action. But how many people will take the time to go to court and test the law? Your guess is as good as mine.
Even though this law exists, it can be likened to a theory on paper because the reality is that the law respects our freedom to enter into contract agreements and will usually not intervene in a bad bargain in favour of the landlord. Who is a landlord? In the feudal system, a lord so called, would own a land and his tenants became his vassals. The feudal lord had dominion over the land and the produce together with the vassals living on that land. The vassals were then required to swear to an oath of allegiance to the lord, as if a monarch. The landlord could eject his tenant as and whenever he wishes, he could change and alter the rent at will; and could impose any terms on the tenant.
The purpose of rent control is to ensure that a city has a certain amount of affordable housing for lower and middle class residents. Infact, the primary advantage of rent control occurs for tenants. Besides paying an affordable rent, they can predict what rent will cost in future and budget accordingly without the fear of a sudden increase that may make living in an apartment unaffordable. The rent control system creates artificial scarcity by encouraging tenants to remain in their apartment it also creates incentive for illegal rental practices such as unauthorised subleases that tenants use to make a profit by renting their apartments to new tenants for more than they already paid the landlord under rent control.
The effort of the National Assembly and State Assemblies to implement the rent control laws has faced criticisms because, the increase in Nigeria’s population in the urban areas has led to increases in the demand for affordable housing, which is far fetched. Government should intensify efforts at providing affordable accommodation. It is only though this means that government will break the monopoly of landlords. The rent control laws though good, what about the regulatory aspect of it? When the law clamps down on the landlords, what about the cement dealers, building materials merchants? The reduction of the cost of building materials will ameliorate the problems encountered by landlords, because some landlords take loans from banks. It stands to reason that the multiplier effects are always on the tenants who are the end users of the building.
I am of the opinion that the rent control is unfair to owners of rental units and indeed damaging to some of the very low income renters which it seeks to protect. My inference is drawn from section I of the Lagos State Rent Control law that first states thus; “This law shall apply to all premises within Lagos State” only to have an exemption clause of areas where the law does not affect, (1) Apapa (ii) Ikeja (iii) Ikoyi (iv) Victoria Island. What a contradiction. In other words, property rise in certain areas is encouraged. Is this not a case of discrimination ?
Ewere resides in Port Harcourt
Nkechi Bright Ewere
How Nigeria Averted Another Fuel Scarcity
It was a game of wits between the Federal Government and oil marketers last week. The oil marketers, apparently taking advantage of the coming yuletide, had penultimate Sunday, given the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum to settle outstanding debts totalling N800 billion, failing which depots would cease operations across the country.
The marketers requested that forex differential and interest component of government’s indebtedness to them be calculated up to December 2018 and be paid within next seven days from the date of the letter sent to the government.
The oil marketers, comprising major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) and Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs) said the only way to avert the strike action was for the government to pay them the outstanding debts through cash option instead of the promissory note proposed by the government.
Sources reveal that the decision of the independent marketers to withdraw their services was ignited by the passive response from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to their demands, on the ground that there was enough fuel to last across the country through the season.
Jilted by apparent indifference of the NNPC to their demand, the independent marketers promised to make real their threat by mobilising their rank and file for a show down.
However, in a swift response, the Federal Government through the Debt Management Office (DMO) and the federal Ministry of Finance, engaged the marketers in a negotiation to resolve the niggling issues and avert the impending strike action.
It could be recalled that the marketers had earlier rejected the Government promissory offer of N350billion, stating that the amount was not enough to clear outstanding bills, such as payment of staff salaries. Some of the outstanding payments due the marketers are also said to accrue from past administrations, making the issue more complicating, as the present administration seems to be reluctant to clear the outstanding debts.
However, as a matter of urgent intervention, the senate at its last plenary urged the Federal Government to pay outstanding fuel subsidy arrears to the oil marketers within the next two weeks. Chairman, senate committee on Down Stream, Kabiru Marafa, who moved the motion said,” the need became imperative to avert looming crisis in fuel supply due to non payment of accrued subsidy arrears to oil marketers”.
The senate also noted that the accumulated debt has forced some marketers out of business, while most of them are being subjected to “marinal injunctions”.
The senate later made some far reaching decisions to bring a lasting solution to the matter. Some of the resolutions which bordered on public interest includes that marketers should as a matter of public interest rescind their decision on the ultimatum to allow the Federal Government more time to look into their demands, engage the debt management office to determine an appropriate financial instrument for the payment of the debt”.
The higher chamber of the National Assembly, also urged the Federal Government to, “engage marketers and agree on outstanding liabilities to put an end to these subsidy claims, and direct all concerned agencies to immediately pay subsidy arrears as approved by the Federal Executive, Council (FEC) and passed by the National Assembly”.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant on Media and Communication to the Minister of Finance, Mr Paul Abechi, had in a press statement, disclosed that the Federal Government and the marketers have come to agreement, and the marketers have assured the public of product availability, while operations at all depots and sales would continue.
Abechi added that the government was reviewing the initial mode of settlement agreed upon by both parties.
He said, “After the meeting with senior government officials from the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Debt management Office, (DMO), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Budget Office of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation, and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), we are satisfied with the arrangement being made by the government to settle the clams of the petroleum marketers”.
However, as the meeting between the Federal Government and the Independent Petroleum Marketers continues today, pundits are of the view that strident measures should be taken to address critical issues in the Nigeria oil and gas sector.
Elder statesman and former Minister of Petroleum, Prof Tam David West, sees fuel subsidy as a monumental fraud which the Buhari administration must do away with to bring some sanity in the system.
David West who disclosed this in an interview with The Guardian newspapers, described a statement credited to Minister of state for petroleum that, “all refineries will work next year”, as scandalous, and unrealistic.
He said there was deliberate sabotage to make the refineries dysfunctional noting that during his time as petroleum minister, all three refineries in the country were working.
“Nigeria has no business importing fuel, and Nigerians need not pay as much as N145 per litre of fuel. Federal Government should make the refineries work, the amount spent on subsidy can build 10 refineries”.
On his part, the chairman, Port Harcourt Refinery Depot of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, (IPMAN), Comrade Emmanuel Imimgba, said the association was ready to live up to its statutory obligations and ensure products availability provided the Federal Government lived up to their own bargain. He also called for the refurbishing of the refineries to make products available.
Some Port Harcourt residents and motorists who commented on the issue appealed to the Federal Government and the independent marketers to resolve all contentious issues at stake to save the people from excruciating pains especially during this period of lean economic fortunes.
A commercial motorist, Mr Kenneth Ibe, who plies Port Harcourt –Aba Road, said government should, as a matter of urgency, intervene to avoid any strike action that will worsen the situation.
“We, commercial drivers are ready to perform our duties, but we can only work well when there is enough fuel in the system. Any fuel scarcity will affect our business and also affect the people that are travelling, government should do something about it”.
The days ahead will however, determine the sincerity of government on the matter.
By: Taneh Beemene
Man Remanded In Prison Over N26m Fraud
The Osun State Magistrate court sitting in Ile-Ife has remanded a 27-year-old store keeper, Tunde Bamidele over an alleged N26 million fraud.
The Administrator-General and Public Trustee, for the Commissioner for Justice, Osun State, Abiodun Badiora said that the accused person conspired with others, now at large, and defrauded the company of N26 million being cost of 12,710 crates of assorted drinks and stocks.
According to the State prosecutor, the accused person was alleged to have committed the offence between January and June 8, 2019 at Lexican Investments Limited at Omole Layout in Ile-Ife.
The administrator-general alleged that the accused person forged a company receipt with No: 538743, 538744, 538739, 538570, 538572 and 538573.
The accused person pleaded not guilty to the thirteen-count charge bordering on fraud and theft.
The offence is contrary to and punishable under Sections 86, 91(a), 83 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Osun, 2002.
Magistrate Ibitola Oyebadejo, did not admit the accused person to bail, saying that the amount involved was huge.
Oyebadejo ordered that the accused person be remanded in Ile-Ife correctional centre, pending hearing of a written bail application.
The magistrate adjourned the case till October 26, 2020 for hearing.
Opinion Leader Wants CP To Visit Rivers Community
Sequel to the forceful eviction of officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force by suspected cultists at Omerelu Police Station in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State an opinion leader, Chief Geoffrey Amadi, has called on the Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr Joseph Mukan to visit the community and do the needful.
The opinion leader who spoke with The Tide in Omerelu on Monday, said the area had become calm for the Police men to reoccupy their station.
Amadi, expressed regret that the police could capitulate and abscond when the area was in crisis.
The community leader who was reacting to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Muhammad Adamu’s call on vigilante groups to surrender arms, said there should be plans to retrain the vigilante groups instead of demanding for arm surrender.
According to him, since the vigilante groups are able to wage war against suspected cultists any move to disarm them will amount to resurgence of crime and criminality.
“When we had security challenge in Omerelu, the police there abandoned us to our fate. We managed to wriggle out ourselves by God’s grace.Now that the area is peaceful, I think, the Police can now return”, he said.
He aslo advised the IGP to do more home work before finalising on the issue of arm surrender by vigilante groups.
He charged not to concentrate on township policing, but should take sometime off to the rural areas, in order to take personal inventory of the security situation.
Though he explained that he was not fussing the duties cum functions of the Divisional Police Officers with that of the CP, but want the Police, the Rivers State Police boss, to at least, see it as an oversight function.
“ Security reports and findings are but best for first hand information. If the CP visits our local areas, I believe he will have better information and report to feed the IGP”, he added.
The Chief also admitted the poor condition of the Police Station, but promised to mobilise for sanitation of the place, once the police indicated interest to return.
The Tide gathered that Omerelu Police Station had become a semi-forest since the police abandoned the place during the era of suspected cult battle in the community.
By: King Onunwor
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