The Lagos State Government on Tuesday said that due process was followed in the acquisition of 4.882 hectares of land in dispute, located at Bameke, Shasha, in the Alimosho Local Government Area of the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the land is the subject of a suit filed by some members of the Akinlowo Olaife family of Shasha, Lagos against the Lagos State Government before Justice Oyindamola Ogala of an Ikeja High Court.
The claimants are Chief Tajudeen Odubiyi, Karamot Ahmed, Abibat Ahmed, Mudirat Ahmed, Sule Ahmed and Kazeem Bankole.
The co-defendants in the suit are the Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos State, the Lagos State Ministry of Lands and Housing, and Abiodun Rufai and Abiodun Jagunna, the Chief Executive Officers of Toobi Projects Ltd, a construction company.
The LASG via their Statement of Defence dated April 3, said that the disputed land was legally acquired in July 1976 through Notice No. 31, Vol. 9, which was published in an official gazette dated July 22, 1976.
According to the LASG, the claimants who purport that the land is their ancestral property, had no title or deed registered at the Lands Registry which could determine the names and addresses of the customary owners of the land.
The LASG said the acquisition of the land was done by the government in order to provide low, medium and high cost housing for citizens of Lagos but the execution of the project was disrupted by thugs and land speculators.
It added: “The LASG, through the Ministry of Lands and Housing, entered into a development agreement with Messrs Toobi Projects Ltd for the development of 108 housing units on a land area of 1.9 hectares.
“The developers had commenced the project with the construction of two blocks when the Ministry of Housing received a report that one Alhaji Rafiu Tijani and others had encroached on the land and demolished the two blocks under construction.
“Tijani laid out the land and constructed drains across the subject matter of the dispute and sold same to unsuspecting members of the public.
“Statutory notices were served on the illegal structures and they were subsequently demolished.
“On a visit to the site, the speculator, Tijani had again mobilised thugs and miscreants in a bid to intimidate government officials and the private developer who was invited to resume construction works.’’
The LASG further said that the Claimants had sold or conveyed their land to third parties and as a result, do not possess the right to file the suit in court and that by virtue of Section 34 (5) of the Land Use Act, their proprietary right had been extinguished.
On their part, Rufai and Jagunna of Toobi Projects Ltd, described the claimants as “gold diggers’’ who only filed the suit as an abuse of court process.
Rufai and Jagunna in their Statement of Defence dated March 25, requested the dismissal of the suit due to the claimants inability to disclose any reasonable cause of action against them and that the suit was essentially between the claimants and the LASG.
NAN reports that the claimants amongst other reliefs are seeking N1billion as damages for trespass, an Order possessing the land, including all the 18 blocks of flats constructed, and an Order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from trespassing on the land.
The suit has been adjourned until October 29, for a case management conference.
Credit: The Eagle online