Lagos High Court sitting at Ikeja, will on July 8 hear a suit filed against Lagos State Government by Akinlowo Olaife family in Shasha area of Lagos for allegedly taking over their ancestral land without compensation and for overriding public interest as required by law.
In the suit before Justice O.A Ogala, six members of the family namely Chief Tajudeen Odubiyi, Karamot Ahmed, Abibat Ahmed, Kudirat Ahmed, Sule Ahmed and Kazeem Bankole claimed that the 4.882 hectares of land in dispute located at Bameke Shasha in Alimosho Local Government, formed part of a vast swath of land belonging to their ancestors.
They claimed that the land which is covered by a survey plan No. LAT/437/L77 was initially encroached on by one Alhaji Salami Tijani through a fake memorandum of land sale purportedly issued by their late father and three other members of the family in 1976.
They noted that despite the fact that the said memorandum of land sale and other documents purportedly used to purchase the land had been ascertained to be fake, the said Tijani continued to trespass on the land and even sold some portions to unsuspecting third parties.
The family further averred that when some members of staff of Ministry of Housing, Lagos State discovered that the disputed land was vacant, they allegedly used the apparatus of government for their private interest to encroach on the land sighting a global acquisition of 1976.
They claimed that the land was subsequently given to private developers Jagunna Abiodun and Abiodun Rufai, operators of a non-existent company parading as ToobiI Projects Ltd for the construction of a building project under 70-30 sharing agreement.
The family members are, amongst other things, asking for N1billion as damages for trespass, an order of possession of the land including all 18 blocks of flats constructed on the land and perpetual restraining injunction against all the defendants.
Joined in the suit as co-defendants are the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Lagos State, Ministry of Housing, Lagos State, Chief Executive Officers of the company handling the building project, Toobi Project Ltd, Abiodun Rufai and Abiodun Jagunna.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice and Ministry of Housing has, however, filed a joint defence to the suit claiming that the disputed land was acquired through a Global Acquisition dated July 1976.
The state government curiously noted in its defence that as at when the disputed land was acquired, the customary landowners, the Akinlowo Olaife family could not be found and that the notice of acquisition was pasted on a conspicuous object on the land.
They further claimed that the disputed land was subsequently allocated to the Ministry of Housing in 2009 for the development of a 108-housing unit under a public-private partnership.
The state government was, however, silent on the allegation that the company which was awarded the contracted to execute the building was fake and not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
The operators of the company, Abiodun Rufai, and Abiodun Jagunna, in their joint defence simply dismissed the allegation that their company Toobi Projects Ltd was not registered with the CAC, describing the allegation as gold-digging on the part of the claimants.
But in their reply to a statement of defence, the Akinlowo Olaife refuted the state government’s claim stating that the Global Acquisition referred to by the state covered the entire land west of Murtala Mohammed Airport and not particularly the disputed land.
They claim that the erstwhile government of Col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, released their land to them in recognition of the plight of original owner of the land west of Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, and no compensation was paid to them for the alleged acquisition of the land.
The family alleged that Toobi Project Ltd is an illegal company insisting that a search conducted for name registration indicated that the company was not available for registration.
The family also wondered how the fake company could manage to operate and maintain accounts in two new generation banks in that name except with the connivance of the respective bank officials.