By Abdulwahab Abdulah
THE land housing the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, OOPL, is now a subject of litigation as an Ogun State High court restrained the trustees, the government and other defendants from destroying the claimants’ shrines on the land until the determination of the suit.
The Plaintiffs, Ijeun-Lukosi Community of Abeokuta, Ogun State who are the alleged owners of the property in which the library and other private properties are located, are now asking the court to return their land to them. Plaintiffs in the matter include Chiefs Benjamin Ogunbona, Akeem Taoreed, Gbenga Amos, Dele Taiwo, Musiliu Oyegunle on behalf of Ijeun Lukosi community of Ogun state.
The suit is against the Governor of Ogun State, D.G. Bureau of land and survey, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, OOPL ventures Ltd, the incorporated trustee of OOPL foundation, DLK Aluminium Products Ltd, Beneficiaries of the Estate of late Chief Sesan Soluade, Chief Lola Oyerinde and Alhaji Alli Ajibode.
Reversion of the land
Others are Dr. Kunle Salako, Dr. Adeleke Adedoyin, Chief Yomi Majekodunmi, Alhaji Layi Shobayo, Inspector General of Police and the state commissioner of Police.
Already the court on January 10 granted an order restraining the defendants from destroying the shrines located on the land. The entire Ijeun-Lukosi community are praying the court for the reversion of the land to the community as the bona-fide owners, since it’s no longer used for the original purpose of the acquisition but shared to private individuals.
In a 50-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, the Baale of Ijeun-Lukosi Community, Chief Benjamin Ogunbona, claimed that Ogun State Government compulsorily acquired the land in 1976 for the purpose of building the state secretariat complex, but did not use it for that purpose re-allocating it to individuals for private use.
According to him, more than 100 individuals have now erected private properties on the land among whom were Obasanjo’s Presidential Library, Dr. Kunle Salako (former SSG, Ogun State); Dr. Adeleke Adedoyin, Chief Yomi Majekodunmi among others.
The Presidential Library was said to be a private property of Obasanjo as contained in a letter written to the community by the National Library of Nigeria,February 2, 2016 and signed by the Secretary to the board/Legal adviser, Alhaji Aminu Ojaj.
Ogunbona noted that after pressure was mounted on the government, it excised 33.253 hectares out of the land to the community in 2011, but did not pay any compensation to the people of Ijeun-Lukosi community for the compulsory acquisition of their land as provided by law.
He said: “Our land measured approximately 178.89 hectares, which amounted to 444.52 Acres of land from time immemorial and we have exercised undisturbed act of ownership on same without let or hindrance from any quarters until 1976 when the newly created Ogun State government compulsorily acquired part of our land.”
The government in its response through Mr. Omilana Korede of the Bureau of Lands and Survey, confirmed the acquisition of the land by Ogun State Government in 1976.
He, however, argued that the land was validly acquired, crops properly enumerated and the compensation deposited with the Bureau of Lands and Survey a long time ago.
Panel of enquiry
He also averred that the 38.253 hectares the community said was returned to them in 2011 had also been cancelled by a panel of enquiry set up by the current government.
His 12-paragraph affidavit read in part: “That sometimes in 1976, the Ogun State government acquired a large area of land which forms part of the large expanse of land measuring 3, 674 hectares for public purpose; to construct the State Secretariat.
“That the land was validly acquired by the enabling law. That copies of notice of acquisition were served on the affected land owners and villagers and where they were hostile, the notices were posted on conspicuous objects like trees and rocks.
“That the 38.253 hectares that was claimed by the defendants to have been released to them has since been cancelled by the Panel of enquiry on Lands headed by Justice Abiodun Akinyemi.”The matter has been adjourned to the 23rd of March, 2017.