Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola has disclosed that his administration has filed 1,957 cases involving land disputes in the High Court between 2009 till date.
Fashola, speaking at a lecture he delivered on the occasion of 80th birthday of the former Federal Commissioner of Works and Housing, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Lagos, stressed that “In Lagos, Land is a serious matter.”
The governor explained that the cases filed were: “Our attempt to navigate the course of the land Use Act and use its provision to aid investment and development has been largely successful.
”The power granted to the government in section 28, to revoke rights of occupancy in the overriding public interest has greatly aided the government’s ability to embark on the massive infrastructure renewal in the state.
“For instance, all the land we acquired along the right of way of the Blue line light rail, which is nearing completion, would have been impossible but for the land Use Act.”
According to him, “From 2009 till date 1,957 cases involving land disputes have been filed in the High Court of Lagos. There were 420 in 2009, 356 in 2010, 590 in 2011 and 591 in 2012.
“Of the roughly 150 processes that are served from the office of the Attorney-General weekly, at least a third that is, 50 of those processes are in respect of land or property dispute in the state.”
Ex-Federal Commissioner of Works tasks Fashola on lands acquired by FG
Meantime, former Federal Commissioner of Works and Housing, Okunnu, has asked Fashola to urgently, reclaim the entire lands belonging to the state, acquired by the federal government.
Okunnu, speaking at his 80th birthday, posited that land is a residual matter which lies with the state government adding that some of the lands include: Osborne Road Estate, Banana Island among others.
He was however quick to say that the present administration of Fashola has “a very hard battle ahead of him.”
According to him, “The FG must recognise that land in any part of the country is a residual matter and that even under the land use decree, whatever isn’t owned before1978 by the FG belong to the state.”
“Any land which the FG gained after 1978, like Banana Island, Osborne road estate and other sparse of land which they didn’t owned at 1978 at all or for FG purpose, the title to that land is vested in the state government.”
The former federal commissioner lamented “The civilians have also copied the military style of acquiring what belong to the state. During Gowon’s administration, we recognised the federal system in the country.
“The takeover of the Victoria Island took five years to resolve in the cabinet during Gowon’s regime. And the resolve at that time by the then head of state was that Victoria Island belongs to the Lagos state and not the central government.”
“That was why we had to negotiate with the state government on the number of plots the state government will release to the central government in their state especially Lagos state. That shows that land is a matter for the state government to decide.”
“I was a postman then when the Federal Government said that they needed large sparse of land in VI, Lagos and I went to the Mobolaji Johnson and he said that the state needed land to build roads and others facilities in the state.
“In addition, as the state with the smallest land mass in the country, but host to the largest population in the country, you will understand why I say land is a serious matter to us in Lagos and one which we pay considerable attention.”
‘In Lagos state, we have always believed in and been guided by the concept of the greatest good for the greatest number and our policies have always been predicted on this theory,” Fashola said.