By Innocent Anaba
Property owners on Eric Moore-Orile-Mile 2-Badary-Seme Expressway, under the aegis of Association of Landlords and Property Owners, have dragged the Lagos State government before a Federal High Court in Lagos, over its planned expansion of the road.
The landlords and residents had accused the state government of planning to demolish their homes and properties without adequate compensation despiteÂ submission of relevant documents to the state government.
Trial judge in the matter is the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Dan Abutu while defendants in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Works and Urban Development, Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, the state Commissioner for Lands and Julius Berger Nigeria.
The plaintiffs are contending in the suit that sometime in 2008, they received threats of eviction letters and notices from the Lagos State government, but the state government assured them that those whose buildings and structures would be affected by the planned expansion of the expressway would beÂ compensated, relocated and resettled.
According to them, the state government also encouraged them to submit the original of all and any evidence of title document to the Office of the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development after which adequate compensation would be paid to them.
However, after the submission of their documents, the state government began to mount campaign that it had paid compensation to those whose properties were affected and marked for demolition.
They are praying the court to declare that the revocation of all existing interests and titles on their lands and properties by the state government is illegal, null and void.
In the alternative, they want the court to mandate the state government to set up a joint committee of estate values assessors to inquire, ascertain and determine the ownership of all properties so far acquired for the purpose of determining their true value and the payment of proper and adequate compensation.
The state government has challenged the suit, contending that the Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
The state is further contending that the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs relate to the exercise of the powers of the Governor of Lagos State pursuant to Section 28 of the Land Use Act Cap. L5, Laws of the Federation, 2004, in respect of the acquisition of land and revocation of statutory rights of occupancy to land in the state for overriding public interest.
It further said the subject of the matter was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court of Lagos State.