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LICENSING LAW: LAGOS GOES TOUGH WITH 1,328 HOTELS

The Lagos government will soon resume legal action against hotels operating in the state, which are yet to comply with the hotel licensing law. as commissioner for tourism and inter-governmental relations, disun holloway, has said.

THE Lagos state government will soon resume legal action against hotels operating in the state in contravention of the Hotel Licensing law.

According to the Commissioner for Tourism and Inter-governmental Relations, Mr. Disun Holloway, not fewer than 1000 hotels operate in Lagos without obtaining license from the Lagos State Licensing Authority.

The websites of the agency responsible for regulating hotel and tourism, 1,328 hotels, event centers, bars and restaurants are yet to comply with the law as opposed to the 1162 that have complied. This figure represents more than 50 percent of tourism establishments domiciled within Lagos.

In the exercise of its powers to license and regulate hotels, the Lagos State House of Assembly enacted the Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption Law.

The Law imposes a 5% tax on consumption of goods and services in hotels, hotel facilities, event centers and restaurants. According to Holloway the Supreme Court ruling on the agency with regulatory power over the hotels operation in 36 states of the federation is unambiguous, noting that the registration and licensing of hotels are the responsibilities of the individual states.

“It should be added that the Law defines the word ‘hotel’ to include ‘any building used as a guest house, inn, lodge, motel, tavern, night club, events centre, fast food outlet, restaurant in the State’. By not complying it means that they are illegal operators, he said

“The hotel that are failing to comply are in breach of Section 4 of the Hotel Licensing Law (as Amended) 2003 which states that ‘No person shall carry on or keep a hotel or tourism establishment in any premises in Lagos State without a license granted by the Authority in respect of that premises’.

“Additionally, the Ministry embarked on a campaign awareness drive by implementing series of door-to-door monitoring exercises. We have also recently been invited by the Hotel Association of Nigeria to participate in their forth coming state wide for a which are aimed at fostering communication and raising awareness.”

He said the ministry would continue with its on-going strategy and show hoteliers the benefits of registration.

He added: “Previously, we initiated legal proceedings against those hotels that were non compliant. That action increased the level of compliance and we intend to recommence legal proceedings against a new set of establishments once the new Legal Year begins in September.”

Before the Supreme Court’s judgment the federal government challenged the right of Lagos State to make laws on tourism specifically where the National Assembly had already legislated on the same issue through the NTDC Act.

The issues for determination were whether matters pertaining to tourism fall under the exclusive legislative list of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

Whether the Lagos State House of Assembly and the Lagos State Government can enact and promulgate laws on matters within the exclusive legislative list.

Whether the Lagos State House of Assembly and the Lagos State Government can enact and promulgate laws which directly conflict with the provisions of an existing law of the National Assembly and if it can supersede the National Assembly law.

The apex court dismissed the federal government’s suit and delivered its judgement in favour of Lagos state. It was the view of the court that the NTDC Act went beyond its powers as stated in the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution which is to regulate “tourist traffic”.

This effectively challenged the constitutionality of the NTDC’s powers to unilaterally regulate and control of hotels and tourism in Nigeria. The court therefore validated the respective laws of Lagos State.

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