The House of Representatives has declared illegal, levies being imposed on businesses by area councils in the Federal Capital Territory, ordering the task forces to suspend their activities.

A member of the House from Kogi State, Mr Tajudeen Yusuf, had moved a motion calling for the suspension at the plenary on Tuesday. 

It was titled ‘Investigation of Alleged illegal Levies by the Federal Capital Territory Area Councils on Business Outlets and Premises in the Area Councils.’ 

Yusuf said, “Business outlets and private enterprises have been under threats, intimidation, and coercion by task forces operating in the Federal Capital Territory area councils under different guises, forcing business owners to pay illegal levies which are not remitted into the government coffers but private pockets of task force officials.

‘The House is concerned that revenues meant to boost the economy of the capital territory are diverted by task force officials from Abuja Municipal Area Council and other area councils who extort supermarket operators, hotels, cafeterias, furniture shops, artisans, and other businesses.

“The House is disturbed that the continued extortion of business operators in AMAC and other area councils in the Federal Capital Territory under the guise of collecting levies, tenement and other charges by task forces is affecting businesses as some entrepreneurs who cannot cope with multiple levies are forced to reduce their workforce, particularly hotel owners.

“The House is alarmed that with the rising effects and fallout of the COVID–19 pandemic, which has thrown the country into economic recession; if the illegal activities of task forces are not stopped by relevant government authorities, it will lead to loss of jobs, impact negatively on the economy and increase insecurity.”

The lawmaker, therefore, prayed the House to “urge the Federal Capital Territory Administration to, in the interim, suspend the activities of the task forces in all area councils of the FCT pending the completion of the investigation.”

He also urged the House to mandate the Committees on FCT and FCT Area Councils to “investigate the matter and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.”

The lawmakers unanimously granted the prayers