Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has attacked the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Jimi Agbaje describing him as a tax evader.

Fashola stated this at the 8th Annual Stakeholder Taxation Conference in Ikeja, on Wednesday, January 28.

The governor said further that Agbaje had not paid the Land Use Charge on his pharmacy for four years and as such was not fit to be governor.

“LUC is ground rent and tenement rate as they were consolidated. I know that you have to vote next month but look at that candidate that would need to take over from me and be careful of who to vote for. You will remember that in 2007, he (Agbaje) claimed that he was in DPA and later crossed to PDP,” Fashola said.

“You know that he manages a pharmacy called Jaykay Pharmacy, located at 9, Randle Close, Apapa. His pharmacy has not paid land Use Charge for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. They paid in 2013 and 2014 because they discovered that the election would be holding in 2015. His pharmacy owes this state N1, 629, 064.62. Let us do that mathematics to see how many facilities that funds would have provided in our hospitals and stationary in our schools. But this was the same person who was complaining that the state government spent three percent of its budget on education,” he added.

The governor also said that it is illegal not to pay tax and that anyone who defaults on his taxes is a bad citizen.

“Local Government is responsible for the management of the primary schools and yet he has withheld their taxes. This is the man who wants to be your next governor. And I will advice you that you avoid deception and tax evader,” Fashola said.

“When our opponent complained that the state government was imposing more taxes on the residents, they have forgotten that they enacted that law. Where we were years ago was where the Central Government had chosen to start. The Payment of tax is the first principle of the social contracts between the government and the citizens. It is an irreducible legal minimum of citizenship and a breach of this responsibility is a criminal offence under our law,” he added.

“All those who have paid their taxes have shown that they are lawful citizens. And anyone who has failed to pay tax is a bad citizen. He is also a cheat; such person benefits from the commonwealth-the roads, hospitals and other facilities provided by funds generated from taxes paid by the residents,” Fashola concluded.

Agbaje, in response to the allegation, accused Fashola of being contradictory. The PDP candidate said this in a statement released by his Director of Media and Publicity, Felix Oboagwina. It reads:

“Mr. Jimi Agbaje expresses surprise at this rather personal and unprovoked attack against his person by Governor Raji Fashola. Just in January, the Commissioner for Finance sent a personal letter to Mr. Agbaje, commending him for his faithfulness in payment of taxes relating to his residence.

It is a curious contradiction that several days later, the Governor himself would express sentiments clearly in contradiction to the spirit and letter of that voluntary and unsolicited commendation from the state.

Are they feeling the heat of Agbaje and PDP’s impending victory in the state, or how does one explain this recourse to personal attacks recently embarked upon by chieftains of APC?

Although he founded JayKay Pharmaceuticals, Mr. Agbaje left the directorship of the company in 2006, and this is on record with the state. He is no longer involved in the running of the company. And today, he is not even an Executive Director.

We have a letter signed by Ayo Gbeleyi, Honourable Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, where Agbaje received commendations for fulfilling his tax obligations. The letter from the Ministry says: “A review of our payment records from 2011 shows that you have been consistent with the payment of Land Use Charge on the above property (Agbaje’s residence in Apapa).

“The Lagos State Government wishes to express its appreciation to you on your consistent fulfilment of your civil responsibility and your singular contribution towards the development of the state.

“We look forward to your continued cooperation in this regard.”

It will be recalled that the Governor only about two weeks ago said that Agbaje was too old to be Governor, although the PDP Candidate is only 57.

This fresh outburst amounts to another futile attempt at mudslinging by a desperado group that is up against a formidable opponent, and it has only succeeded in staining the source.

Lagosians should be wary of APC and its bag of tricks.”