There was an open letter directed to, the Governor of Lagos State, on the on-going call for ‘compensation’ over demolished properties dating back to 2008, along the Badagry Expressway Maza Maza, in Abule-Ado. The letter, issued to members of the press, and which SaharaReporters also obtained, is an extraordinary call for ‘intervention’ on the part of a group of attorneys and elected officials.
That document appears below, and is re-produced in full:
We are Solicitors to the Landlords Association of Badagry Expressway, Maza Maza, Abule-Ado (hereinafter referred to as “our client”) on whose behalf we write to you.
Sir, our clients are the owners of the Demolished Landed Properties situated at the above address with valid title documents and had been in exclusive possession of the vast area of land since time immemorial exercising maximum acts of ownership and enjoyment without interference.
However, on the 15th day of April, 2008 while exercising your authority and power of Revocation of Rights of Occupancy conferred upon your Excellency by Section 28 (1) and (6) of the Land Use Act 1979, our client titles and interest in the said land and properties were accordingly revoked by virtue of a Public Notice with Ref No: AMOS/POMO/CN027 to give way for the expansion and construction of the Ten (10) lane Road Network along the Badagry Expressway for overriding public interest.
Pursuant to the said Revocation Notice by you Excellency, our clients properties and lands running into several Billions of naira were demolished by the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development in August, 2012 for the said project which construction work had since began and had reached an advanced stage of completion.
However, before the said demolition exercise you Excellency did promised to adequately compensate all the affected property owners at your public speech heralding the ground breaking ceremony at the site. Our client were accordingly requested to present their documents to the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban development for the immediate processing of said compensation which they did, with evidence of receipt and acknowledgment of same.
Unfortunately, after more than two (2) years our clients are yet to receive any penny in fulfillment of your earlier promise to the people at the opening and ground breaking ceremony. Despite several letters, pleas, meetings and assurances from your office and the relevant authorities i.e the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Ministry of Justice and the House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development of the Lagos State House of Assembly, nothing has been forthcoming.
At the last meeting held on the 13th day of February, 2014 at the Lateef Jakande Hall of the Lagos State House Of Assembly which was presided over by the Chairman of House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development with the Honourable Member representing the affected Constituency in attendance. After much deliberations and investigation it was revealed that the affected communities were divided into 3 Lots for the purpose of payment of the said Compensation and that Lot 1 and 2 have all been paid their due Compensation leaving out our clients who fell within the 3rd Lot covering Maza-Maza to Okokomaiko axis. At the said meeting it was also discovered that one Mr. Ogunbo and Mr. Tokunbo of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development were saddled with the responsibility in overseeing the payment of the said Compensation.
Surprisingly, every attempt at assessing the said Compensation from the relevant authorities has been met with several brick walls.
Sir, It will interest you to note that most of our clients whom are retirees and bread winners of their families have passionately served their father’s land in different capacities both in the private and public sector. These same individuals have continued to suffer untold hardship and psychological trauma due to the lose of their life long earnings and investment as a result of the demolition of their properties while some have died in the process of waiting for their legitimate entitlement that would have help in ameliorating their sufferings.
Sir, It is pertinent to state here that the primary aim of any government is to provide basic infrastructure and amenities to its people which informed the acquisition of the said land and properties in the first place in line with the statutory provision of overriding public purpose which your government has passionately pursued with all vigor judging from the massive infrastructural development in the State for the past seven (7) years of this administration.
However, it will be needless to go into the legal semantic of the propriety or otherwise of the Constitutional and statutory right to revocation and acquisition of land by the government for overriding public purpose but suffice to state here that such right carries with it the correlative duty and responsibility of the prompt payment of Compensation to the affected individuals or communities and our client cannot be denied such right as to do so will no doubt amount to a fundamental breach of their inalienable right as enshrined under Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Thus, we believe that your government will continue to keep tap to its Constitutional duties and responsibility to our client as it is known to always do in such cases to deserving citizens who have sacrificed their life time investments for the overall good of the government and people of Lagos State.
We therefore, humbly urge your Excellency to use your good office to intervene and prevail on the relevant person(s) or authorities to release the said Compensation to our client in the interest of peace, justice and fairness so as to avert a situation that may lead to break down of law and order or sabotage thereby impeding the smooth completion of the ongoing project as the youths most of whom are now displaced and homeless are currently running out of patient.
We look forward to a favorable and prompt response from your Excellency.
FOR: FESTUS KEYAMO CHAMBERS
TERFA MARK ANATA, ESQ., Counsel
FESTUS AFEYODION, ESQ., Assistant Head of Chambers
Cc: 1. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF LAGOS STATE
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE,
2. THE HONOURABLE SPEAKER,
LAGOS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY,
3. THE HONOURABLE COMMISSIONER,
MINISTRY OF PHYSICAL PLANNING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT,
As of this writing, it is unclear as to how Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola will respond to this call for action. The Lagos State Governor’s silence on the matter prompted the attorneys and lawmakers to take this drastic approach to prompt Lagos State officials to act.