Local Governments and Radio Licences

NOTE: For applicable rate for Radio & TV License, please scroll to the end of the article.

A frequent talking point for analysts of Nigeria’s federal structure and its dysnfunctionalities is the lack of autonomy for many local government councils, with State Governors ultimately having control over council funds and, ostensibly, the power to dismiss chairmen and councillors. When the political and administrative insecurity that this leads to is combined with the fact that, as Ankio Briggs put it in her Channels TV interview of 9th October 2012, politics at the grassroots level is violent and frequently requires the employment of thugs (and local government council chairmen need to keep these thugs happy between election cycles), it is not very hard to see why the “face” of councils is generally unintelligent, insensitive and primitive.

Harsh words, yes, but I do not know how else to describe the system where local government councils authorise illiterate touts to set up road blocks and enforce non-existent (or illegal) laws on motor vehicles requiring radio and television licenses. It is a totally unworkable system, one that would require every Nigerian driver travelling cross-country to procure a radio licence for each council he intends to drive through. These thugs and touts threaten to impound vehicles (which never have them anyway) whose drivers refuse to pay for the ugly certificates they designed with rudimentary PowerPoint and most people pay something, usually slightly less than the “prescribed” fee, to be able to continue on their journeys.

I should add that, in many States, the vehicle radio licence is not the only surprise that councils spring on Nigerian citizens. For many businesses, council regulations (and levies) change according to the whims of the chairman and his councillors.

What is the actual extent of local government powers to impose levies? Let us take a look in the ultimate regulation in the land – the 1999 Constitution.

Section 7(1) of the constitution provides that –

The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall…ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.” I have emphasised those words to show that any authority to be exercised by a local government council must emanate from a Law passed by the State House of Assembly.

The Fourth Schedule to the Constitution states the main functions of a local government council, which include the “collection of rates, radio and television licences” (full list at the end of this piece) and this is apparently what councils feel empowers them to demand the procurement of vehicle radio licences. However, even a cursory look at the structure of the list of functions will show that it is not likely that it was the draftsman’s intention for that provision to apply to vehicles.

But even if, for the sake of argument, it was intended to apply to motor vehicles, by rules of interpretation of statutes (the “absurdity rule” to be precise), laws cannot be enforced in a manner that results in absurdity. And it is unquestionably absurd to be required to visit each local government council in Nigeria to buy their motor vehicle radio and television licences. What should happen in that instance is that the fee is collected centrally and disbursed to local governments according to an agreed formula (good luck to the National Assembly in getting States to agree to any such permutation).

However, we come back to the point that the “establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions” of local government councils are constitutionally required to be provided for by the Laws of a State. Local government councils can therefore not collect any levies which the State government has not authorised them to.

Luckily for us in Lagos (I am not certain about other States) there is the Local Government Levies (Approved Collection List) Law of 2010. The Law makes it clear what levies councils are authorised to collect and prohibits the mounting of road blocks for the collection of levies except in emergencies and as approved by the State government. The list of approved levies in the Law is as follows-

i.                    Shops and kiosks rates

ii.                  Approved open market levy

iii.                Tenement rates

iv.                Licensing fee for sale of liquor

v.                  Slaughter slab license fee in abattoirs under local government control

vi.                Marriage, birth and death registration fees

vii.              Street naming registration fee

viii.            Motor park levy (including motorcycles and tri-cycles)

ix.                 Parking fee on local government streets or roads as may be approved by the State Government

x.                   Domestic animal licence (excluding poultry farmers)

xi.                 Licence fees for bicycles, trucks, canoes, wheelbarrows and carts (other than mechanically propelled trucks)

xii.             Radio and television licence fee (excluding radio and television in motor vehicles, transmitters and other communication equipment)

xiii.             Public convenience, sewage and refuse disposal fees

xiv.             Cemetery and burial ground permit fee

xv.               Permit fee for private entertainment and merriment in public places (excluding roads and streets)

xvi.             Wharf landing fees

So there you have it. If any council in Lagos State ever stops you and demands for your radio licence, tell them Tex said they should get lost. For the ones outside Lagos, you probably have no other choice but to appeal to their stupidity.

RF.

___________________________________________________________________ 

 

FOURTH SCHEDULE TO THE 1999 CONSTITUTION

1.      The main functions of a local government council are as follows:

a.       The consideration and the making of recommendations to a state commission on economic planning or any other similar body on–

i.      The economic development of the State, particularly in so far as the areas of authority of the council                      and State are affected; and

ii.      Proposals made by the said commission or body;

b.      Collection of rates, radio and television licenses;

c.       Establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for the destitute or infirm;

d.      Licensing of bicycles, trucks (other than mechanically propelled trucks), canoes, wheel barrows and carts;

e.       Establishment, maintenance and regulation of slaughter houses, slaughter slabs, markets, motor parks and public conveniences;

f.        Construction and maintenance of roads, streets, street lightings, drains and other public highways, parks, gardens, open spaces, or such public facilities as may be prescribed from time to time by the House of Assembly of a State;

g.       Naming of roads and streets and numbering of houses;

h.      Provision and maintenance of public conveniences, sewage and refuse disposal;

i.        Registration of all births, deaths and marriages;

j.        Assessment of privately owned houses or tenements for the purpose of levying such rates as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of a State; and

k.      Control and regulation of –

i.      Outdoor advertising and hoarding,

ii.      Movement and keeping of pets of all description,

iii.      Shops and kiosks,

iv.      Restaurants, bakeries and other places for sale of food to the public,

v.      Laundries, and

vi.      Licensing, regulation and control of the sale of liquor.

 

UPDATE:

I have come across this brochure which provides a further summary of the law and lists the rates collectable under each head. Click the link for the full information. For applicable Radio & TV licenses, see the table below –

Revenue Heads Revenue Bands
A+ A B C
Highly Urbanised Communities Urban Communities Semi-Urban Communities Rural Communities
Radio & TV License
a. Companies
i. Large 200,000.00 20,000.00 15,000.00 15,000.00
ii. Small 50,000.00 10,000.00 7,500.00 5,000.00
b. Residential
i. Duplex 1,500.00 1,500.00 1,000.00 1,000.00
ii. Flat 500.00 500.00 300.00 200.00
iii. Rooms 200.00 200.00 150.00 100.00

 

 

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23 thoughts on “Local Governments and Radio Licences

  1. This is good. It’s great to know someone cares enough to educate us about our legal rights. I”m still confused about this however- I do not have a TV set in my office neither do I possess a radio, why should I pay TV/Radio license? I’ve been told it’s statutory by the Local Government agents. i know in the UK they must prove that you watch LIVE TV to bill you. What applies in Lagos ? Is it a blind law that we all have to abide by just because Government cannot be bothered to get the equipment that can sift those who watch Live TV from those who don’t?

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    • I don’t know what Local Government you’re in but chances are that ALL local government by-laws make it compulsory for every building/office to pay for the TV/Radio Licence. This is still Nigeria, after all. Ask them for a copy of the by-law next time they come by.

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  2. I live in UK and you’ll only pay licence if the Government know that you have TV, we are not well served with good programs and the TV station are of no standard with all the international tv station.

    We hear BREAKING NEWS about NIGERIA in London before people in Nigeria…..what a shambles TV stations and Journalism…..

    Sorry it’s not worth paying for

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  3. paying for radio and television licence will not be so much of an issue if the fee is infinitesimal.The shocking news is that i was giving a bill of fifty thousand naira(50k) for a small store in victoria island.my television and radio is far less than the bill am asked to pay.my personal income tax is five thousand naira (5k).this is outrageous.if lagos state govt is aware of this amount and they keep quiet,it simply means more troubles for people living in lagos.i really need to be cleared on this if people are paying this amount in other locations in lagos.j

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  4. Hi,
    I dont have a TV or Radio in my office, but am asked to pay 100k, is the licence only for those that have radios and TVs in their offices?

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  5. Hi can you send me the Lagos State TV and Radio laws? I’ve got some of their official breathing down my neck and i want to know if they are exceeding their authority by threatening to shut down my office. My email address is in the form. Thanks

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    • Hi, unfortunately I do not have a specific TV/Radio Licence Law. I believe what each LGA can charge for this varies. What LASG did was to pass a law authorising LGAs to charge under their by-laws. So what you need is the by-law of the LGA where your office is located.

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      • My office is around Onikan, Lagos Island. If you can help i would be grateful if you can come up with any helpful material

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  6. My office is in Apapa and is a foods company. Does the Local government have right to collect stacking, offloading and fumigation permit levy. please I need someone to educate me if this is legal. Also my company was billed 750,000 for corporate. Am confused

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  7. Thank you so much for this!

    I still don’t see the point of the radio/TV license (especially the way it’s done here), but I have a quick question about it: how exactly do they define a large/small company? Because that’s the difference between paying 50k or 200k.

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    • Honestly, I don’t know; it should probably be with reference to turnover. However, what’s more likely to happen is that the agents will size companies up mentally – Cadbury, Breweries, etc. large companies. Everybody else, small. Will dig further and see what I can find.

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      • Hi,

        My shop is 20sqm in size and located inside Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall (Shoprite) Surulere.

        We received a demand notice for N7,500 shop permit and N50,000 for Radio and TV license even though we do not have a TV or Radio inside the shop.

        From the table I can see we are located in an urban area however, how does Surulere Local Government determine Shop Size and company size?

        I consider my shop and business to be small and do not see why we would be paying the same rate as Shoprite a large company with over 1000sqm in shop space inside the same mall.

        Where is the rule book which specfies the categories each shop / business falls into? It cannot just be left to the whim and judgement of local govt staff who are probably operating on a commission and likely not to use fair judgement to issue the demand notices.

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      • i disagree with your replies sir, first of all sir, what is a license? license is something you rightly own or owned.. now there are guidelines you prolly have omitted here which is also on the penalty attached to tax evasion. now does the law or by laws empowers the local council to seal up buildings owing without the court order?. i will say no!!! again, if you don’t have license of a TV & Radio you don’t have any right to pay such tax. am a human right activist and have been fighting these local government oppressors @ Agege and orile-Agege lcda on this radio and tv license… and in a developed world governments has made provisions for Radio & tv in your apartment so they have right to request for the radio & Tv permits but here in Nigeria where governments don’t make any provision for the tax they collect which we all can formidably correct this..

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  8. Why should we be paying for Radio / TV, are we not paying for DSTV or GO TV we were watching? This is totally ridiculous & just a way of putting more suffering into the lives of our people, we are paying our taxes and these so called LG council touts will collect the levies and ends up in their own pockets,

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