A Chieftain of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Segun Musa has challenged the Lagos State Government over Wharf Landing Fee, describing it as illegal.
The freight forwarder explained that the manner at which the State government collects the fee is filled with arrogance and maybe challenged in a court of law.
According to him; “the arrogance of the Lagos State Government needs to be challenged in Court. It has gotten to the stage at which stakeholders need to tell the Lagos state Government that, we are not cowards but professionals who operate legitimately within the confines of the law.
“If the Lagos State Government can not comprehend the value we are adding to the Federal, State and Local Governments revenue aside the illegal collections forcefully collected from our members with the support of armed police officers called Wharf Landing Fee, then it shows ignorance on the part of the government”.
Musa also noted that Lagos State is actually finding it difficult towards generating revenue hence taxing the maritime stakeholders illegally with the help of security agents.
“It is obvious that the State Government is finding it difficult to task brain on how to generate legitimate revenue hence, the need to continue taxing already over taxed business communities, forgeting that if the hen laying the eggs should die definitely it would mark an end to egg consumption.
“The State Government needs to tread with caution and stop radical ways of generating revenues as if we are in the banana republic.
“The concerned maritime operators (CMOs) are only waiting for appropriate time to challenge the Illegal Wharf landing fee in court and proof to the Lagos State Government that you can not legalise illegality just because your House of Assembly permits you bulldozers anywhere to collect revenue,” Musa said.
He further pointed out that the maritime corridors does not belong to the State and so, collection of revenues through it is absolutely illegal and double taxation.
“Unfortunately, the silence of the Federal Government is an indication that any State can perpetrate illegality within the rightful jurisdiction of the Federal Government just because the Government at the centre is weak or because it does not affect the federal revenues.
“How do we measure where the right of the Federal Government stops and where that of the States starts from if the Central Government keeps mute at every illegality being perpetrated by the State government?
“I recalled how we stopped the Lagos State Government from collecting same at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport and how we also stopped Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) toeing and arresting vehicles at the airport road just because Federal Government gave right of repairs to the Government of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode then,” he said.
Musa, however, maintained that the aviation sector is obviously more organised and always speak with one voice against oppression from Governments unlike the maritime sector.
According to him; “I sincerely implore the critical stakeholders to come together and fight this confrontation of the State Government without any respect to the business community.
“If not for the strategic positioning of this State, definitely with the attitudes of Lagos State Government, businesses would have left the State to other business friendly States.
“I hope Lagosians would be able to task any future governorship candidates on how he or she intends to task his or her brain by promoting and encouraging investors to generate legitimate income rather than over taxing the business cluster groups with I don’t care attitudes”.