By Olugbenga Salami
Senate has set up an ad hoc committee, chaired by former Kebbi State governor, Senator Adamu Aliero, to investigate and recover the over N6 trillion accrued from the non-payment of ground rent from property owners across the country.
This followed a motion by Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC Taraba Central), who said that the Land Use Act has vested ownership rights to the federal government over its land in states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Rising under Orders 41 and 51 of the Senate standing rules, Senator Yusuf, stated that the rights include the power to control and regulate town planning, and physical development in relation to such lands and by extension prescribing and collection of any tax, fees or rates.
He informed that since 1992, over two million houses across the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT have been built and allocated to beneficiaries by the federal government, yet majority have no evidence of payment of ground rent on their properties.
Senator Yusuf noted that with the current revenue challenges facing the country, there is a need for the government to look into other means of generating income than relying on oil revenue.
He further stated that investigation reveals that the failure of relevant authorities to recover these funds has led the country to losing over six trillion naira.
Some lawmakers in their contributions called on the federal government to come up with a computerized system where all allotted lands and properties, persons yet to pay and fashion out mode of recovering these funds.
The Senate, in its resolution, resolved to constitute an ad hoc Committee to investigate the inability of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to investigate and recover these incomes for the government.
The upper legislative chamber also resolved to investigate the circumstances that led to the inability of the Land Use Act Allocation Committee, saddled with the responsibility of handing rent and licence matters, to carry out their responsibility on the matter.
It also called for comprehensive data of federal government property that are sold to the public under the ministry of works and housing across the country.
Members of the ad hoc committee are Senators Adamu Aliero (PDP Kebbi Central), Sani Musa (APC Niger East), Sam Egwu (PDP Ebonyi North), Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), Betty Apiafi (PDP Rivers West) at Yusuf Abubarkar Yusuf (APC Taraba Central).
The Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan later gave the Committee one month within which to submit its report.