By Samuel Ogundipe
The Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, has hit back at the state Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), over the allegation that he was indebted in tax to the stateto the tune of N1.6 million.
He described Fashola as a desperado. The Lagos State governor had earlier on Wednesday accused Agbaje of failing to pay his land use charge to date, labeling him a serial tax defaulter.
Speaking in a statement by his Director of Media and Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, Agbaje said the accusation by Fashola was a desperate attempt to blackmail him ahead of the February 28, 2015 governorship election in the state.
He said it is public knowledge that he was no longer a Director of JAYKAY Pharmaceutical Company, which was mentioned by Fashola as owing the state government.
The PDP guber candidate said he ceased being a director of the company in 2006.
Agbaje said it was also common knowledge that the state government recently commended him for paying his Land Use Charge promptly for his residential accommodation contrary to the impression given that he was a defaulter of taxes.
The statement by Oboagwina is as follows: “I have made it clear that I will run a clean campaign based on nothing but the issues and facts. I will not engage in a smear campaign where anything including the kitchen sink goes.
“The people of Lagos know better than to be blinded by APCs smokescreen of accusations & diversions. Let me be clear. I wouldn’t stoop to engage in such desperate tactics that has been exhibited by Governor Fashola and the APC over the last couple of weeks.
“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.”