Thursday, February 11, 2010
The Nigerian House of Representatives has asked the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs to look into the alleged failure of the country’s official representatives in New York to pay claims of between USD4.1m and USD16m in real estate taxes on the building the government owns in Manhattan.
It was announced last month that New York City has filed an action in the Federal District Court as it claimed that portions of the building at 828 Second Avenue, known as "Nigeria House", while being partially used for tax-exempt purposes (including offices for the Nigerian Consulate and the Nigerian Mission to the United Nations), have also been used, at least since 2002, and possibly as far back as 1993, for commercial and other non-tax exempt purposes.
For example, New York City has claimed that the now-defunct Nigeria Airways formerly occupied space in the building’s lobby, while space was leased to the United Nations on the second, third, fifth, and sixth floors. The building’s fourth floor, it is understood, contained private businesses, and the twentieth floor contained a residential unit.
Concerns have been expressed on the effect the above dispute could have on Nigeria’s future relations with the United States. The Committee on Foreign Affairs has therefore been asked to inquire into all the facts surrounding the case, and also to establish whether similar tax problems could arise in any other of the country’s foreign missions. It has been told to report back to parliament within four weeks.