By Ochonogor Michelle, Olufumilayo Obadina
A row is brewing over the parcel of land leased by Mobil Oil Nigeria Limited to operate a filling station at Maryland, Lagos as the land owners are asking the oil major to quit the property.
Whereas the 33-year old leasehold expired in May 2011, the land owners, the Shonibare family, say the oil major has shown that, several months after the expiration, it is not interested in renegotiating their agreement.
But Mobil, in a counter position, accused the land owner of engaging in half truths.
According to the company, while it is not averse to renegotiation with the land owners, the ownership of the land has reverted to it as the property had been bought from the original owners, the Onigbongbo family.
Mobil spokesperson, Mr Akin Fatunke, said the company even has Lagos State governor’s consent on the land.
The filling station occupying the parcel of land in Maryland is alleged to be one of the most viable in Lagos, selling an average of two million litres of fuel per day, translating to N133 million under the old price regime.
But the land owners say whereas the filling station makes that much money, Mobil was paying only N10,000 per annum on the leasehold prior to its expiration in May 2011.
It was learnt that the parcel of land is worth between N300 million and N400 million.
Explaining that the oil major has not shown good faith in renegotiating agreement on the property, the land owners said they had written two letters since the expiration of the leasehold six months ago but got no reply.
They want N20 million per month under a new agreement on the leasehold with Mobil.
Sources close to Shonibare family alleged that Mobil’s failure to renegotiate a leasehold on the Maryland property was a strategy by the oil major to get them to go to court and institute a case which may drag on for years while it retains the land and pays nothing.
They described Mobil’s attitude as unfair and punitive.
The oil major’s spokesperson, Fatunke, said his company had discharged all its obligations to the Shonibare family notwithstanding his claim that Mobil has now bought the parcel of land from the original owners, the Onigbongbo family, and obtained the governor’s consent.
“But we are open to negotiations because we sub leased the property from them. And discussions on new terms of agreement are on-going,” Fatunke added.
To this, the Shonibare family spokesperson said: “Mobil has not replied our letter expressing an intention to renew neither have they made an offer. Instead they have treated us with callous indifference.” The family spokesman added:”The filling station is situated on land owned by the Onigbongbo family and Shonibare family.
If the Onigbongbo family has sold, we are not aware, but our own portion of the property has not been sold and Mobil should show proof that the land belongs to them and that they have the governor’s consent to back it up.”