By Monsur Olowoopejo
Lagos—Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State yesterday accused the Federal Government of treating the state unfairly by selling lands acquired for public use to private individuals.
Fashola spoke at the launch of two books titled ‘Contemporary State land matters in Nigeria: A case study of Lagos State (second edition)’ and ‘In her own right: Abimbola Fashola’ authored by the former Federal commissioner for Works and Housing, Mr. Femi Okunnu and wife of the former attorney-general and commissioner for justice in Lagos, Mrs. Gbemi Shasore.
The governor lamented that rather than return the land to the official owners, the Federal Government has continued to sell them to individuals who purchase them for commercial purposes.
According to him, “I think that we have received the short end of the stick as a people. Lagos is one of the many few states bounded by lagoon and ocean on the side. But yet that is the place that I think has been treated most unfairly by the central government.
“The central government took over Tafawa Balewa Square, in Lagos Island axis of the state, of which it is a manager and not landlord. The land where the edifice was built belongs to Lagos. It was originally crown land. It was given to the central government to manage. And it is alarming that the manager has started selling land left in its care.
“And I have told all those that they sold them to that they bought nothing. The seller has no document to offer. And I have told those who bought it to go and collect their money back from the seller.
“And as long as I live, I will fight the battle to collect the land from the central government. It is a national monument named after Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first Prime minister of Nigeria and that is what some people in the country want to own. And I have said to them that if you want something like this, go and build your own.”
The governor said the book published by Okunnu discusses land issue in Lagos and land issue in Lagos is a very serious matter.
On the reason for the book, Okunnu said since the return to democracy, the Federal government has failed to obey High court judgement of year 2000 which demanded that lands acquired for public use by the central government be returned to their original owners.