Three property owners at the Adisa Housing Estate at No. 308B, Murtala Muhammed Way, Ebute Meta, Lagos, on Tuesday raised an alarm over plans by the Nigeria Railway Corporation to forcefully take over their landed property, without following due process.
Alhaji Moruf K. Salami, Uyo Nwajei and Alhaja Aisha Aminu.
Gwadabe said they have secured a court order barring the NRC, the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, and the China Construction & Electrical Investment Company Ltd from demolishing their landed property, in order to build railway lines connecting Lagos to Abeokuta.
The plaintiffs said in a statement in Lagos that they had no problem with the Federal Government’s plan to build the railway lines but were only insisting that due process should be followed by the NRC in acquiring their landed property, including payment of adequate and commensurate compensation.
Lawyers to the plaintiffs, A. O. Aponmade & Co had filed a court action on their behalf against the NRC, the Federal Ministry of Transport, the China Construction & Electrical Investment Company Ltd, the Inspector-General of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/901/2018.
Justice M.S. Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos had granted an order of interim injunction restraining the defendants from further trespassing on the land and evicting the plaintiffs, in order to build railway lines connecting Lagos to Abeokuta.
Aisha Aminu Gwadabe said that the NRC was determined to render her family and other property owners at the estate homeless, in spite of a court order of the Federal High Court, Lagos, retraining the defendants from taking such action.
The statement said: “It all started sometime late last year when residents of the Adisa Housing Estate observed that trucks were being parked by the Nigerian Railway Corporation to block the entrance to the estate.
“At the same time, Chinese men were also seen forcibly entering the estate to carry out mapping and surveying exercises for the construction of new railway lines from Lagos to Abeokuta.”
Gwadabe also stated that the said property was bought from the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, with adequate allocation papers and payments made to the prototype housing estate account of the Ministry in 1996.
He said: “Both the Constitution and the Act establishing the NRC set out the minimum requirements that must be met by this agency if it intends to take over the immovable property of anyone.
“There must be a notice of its intention to acquire, served on us. This would be followed by discussion on compensation and then payment.”
She, however, alleged that the defendants sent a Valuer, without notifying the property owners.
The plaintiffs claimed: “On June 22, 2018, the valuers came with a representative of the NRC and the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, to hold a meeting with the landlords at which they announced that our compensations were ready and they had come to pay us and give us two weeks to vacate our landed property after payment.’’
The statement said: “The valuers had written the property owners to vacate the premises not more than two weeks after compensation payments.”
The plaintiffs had demanded to know how much compensation they will be paid but were advised to sign an agreement first, before being shown the cheques due to them.
The plaintiffs claimed that agents of NRC have begun heavy drilling activities in the estate.
They said: “They are doing this even when they are fully aware that we have a pending case in court. They are doing this in flagrant disobedience to a subsisting order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
“This is an impunity and we will not stand by and allow it.”
When contacted on the issue, NRC’s Director of Civil Engineering, Anthony Onyokoko, said the compensation is general, and there is no need to be selective in it, adding that what the NRC paid as compensation ‘was adequate by the law’.
Onyokoko said: “We know that the three plaintiffs are in court. They need to agree with us and come out of court. Just a few of the houses are still standing.
“It is a Federal Government project. We are pleading with them to collect the compensation money.”
Reports showed that on July 25, residents of Adisa Estate in Yaba, Lagos demanded an upward review of the compensation offered them on the planned demolition of their houses for the new railway project.
Reports gathered showed many houses have been marked for demolition to pave way for the Lagos – Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway Project.
Fred Ayika, spokesman for the residents revealed that the maximum price of N13 million placed on each house did not reflect the present value of the affected property.
According to him, the current value of each property in the estate is about N30 million, adding that paying a maximum compensation of 13 million for each of the houses “is scandalous’’.
Credit: The Eagle Online