UK calls out Nigerian government over unpaid £8.4 million embassy ground rent since 2003

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The UK Transport for London (TfL) has asked the Nigerian government —included in a list of “stubborn minority” debtors— to pay up its embassy congestion charge, which now stands at £8.4 million and has been unpaid for about 20 years.

Nigeria, owing £8,395,055, ranked fourth among the UK’s 48 foreign debtors who have shirked embassy rent since 2003.

The American embassy ranked first in the list of debtors owing nearly £15 million, followed by Japan (£10 million) and the High Commission for India (£8.5 million).

“The majority of embassies in London do pay the charge, but there remains a stubborn minority who refuse to do so, despite our representations through diplomatic channels,” the UK government said.

TfL clarified that the embassy congestion charge was payment for service, not tax, which makes it applicable to diplomats.

The congestion charge, according to TfL, “is a charge for a service and not a tax,” adding that “diplomats are not exempted from paying it.”

The UK government said it was pushing to escalate the matter to the International Court of Justice to ensure offending nations get penalised should they refuse to pay.

“We will continue to pursue all unpaid Congestion Charge fees and related penalty charge notices and are pushing for the matter to be taken up at the International Court of Justice,” TfL stated.

The callout was reminiscent of Nigerian FCT minister Nyesom Wike’s appeal, who in February, asked the British High Commission and other foreign embassies to pay up their ground rent or risk revocation of licence.

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