June 15, 2009

Catholics not fighting Lagos on charges —Okogie

By Sam Eyoboka
THE Catholic Church is not on collision course with the Lagos State Government over land use charges, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, has averred.

In his June circular to the faithful through the Director of Social Communications of the archdiocese, Very Rev. Msgr. Gabriel Osu, the cardinal said a number of parishes and institutions had enquired about the land use charges.

He informed: “Kindly note, Section 7 (1) of the Land Use Charge Law 2001 exempts us from payment. We have written to the Lagos State Commissioner in charge of land matters on the issue.”
Okogie, therefore, enjoined parishes and institutions to use the circular to get exemption on any charges sent to them.

The Archbishop who turns 73 today, however, said in view of the channelisation by the state government, parishes and institutions must co-operate with the government so that there is no friction between them.
Okogie urged them to note the space required by the Lagos State Government for protection.

“For land near ocean or sea, 150 metres; for land near the lagoon, 50 metres; for land near creeks or rivers, 15 metres and for land near gorge, canal or drainage is 10 metres,” he added.

The cardinal told them that “any Lagos State government official who trespasses the above should be reported to him quam premum for immediate reprobation by the state’s authority”.

On land matters generally, the archbishop told his people to note that in purchase and usage of land, the land to be purchased should be between 1,500 and 2,000 square metres (not less than two and half plots), and a master plan must be drawn before any temporary structure is built in order to save cost in future and all churches should regularize their title on land and must obtain C of O and planning approval.

Okogie was born on June 16, 1936. After completing his primary education, he enrolled into St. Theresa’s Minor Seminary, Ibadan in 1954 and came out in flying colours.

He left for Rome in 1963 and upon the completion of his studies, he was ordained a priest at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos on December 4, 1966-and thus began his priestly duties and vocation.
He was consecrated a bishop of Oyo Diocese on August 29, 1971, a space of five years after his ordination as a priest! He became the auxiliary bishop to the Apostolic Administrator of Lagos Archdiocese, Bishop Anthony Sanusi in 1972.

Okogie was episcopally enthroned as Archbishop of Lagos on June 17, 1973. He was promoted a cardinal by Pope John Paul II of blessed memory on September 28, 2004 and inaugurated and installed in Rome by the late Pope John Paul II on October 21, 2004.

The late Pope John Paul II also bequeathed to Cardinal Okogie a Titular Church in Rome, the Church of Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, Moustaccianos, Rome.