By Henry Ojelu
In a suit filed at the Lagos State High Court, the prominent Akinlowo Olaife family in Shasha area of Lagos has dragged the Lagos State Government to court over claim that the government illegally took over their ancestral land for the Millennium Housing Project located in Egbeda without compensation.
Six members of the family, Chief Tajudeen Odubiyi, Karamot Ahmed, Abibat Ahmed, Kudirat Ahmed, Sule Ahmed and Kazeem Bankole also claimed that the housing project on their land was awarded to an illegal company.
They further claimed that the land which is covered by a survey plan No. LAT/437/L77 was initially encroached on by one Alhaji Salami Tijani through a fake memorandum of land sale purportedly issued by their late father and three other members of their family in 1976.
They noted that despite the fact that the said memorandum of land sale and other documents purportedly used to purchase the land had been ascertained to be fake, the said Tijani continued to trespass on the land and even sold portions to unsuspecting third parties.
The family members further averred that when some members of staff of Ministry of Housing, Lagos State discovered that the disputed land was vacant, they allegedly used the apparatus of government for their private interest to encroach on the land citing a global acquisition of 1976.
They also claimed that the land was subsequently given to private developers: Arc Jagunna Abiodun and Arc. Abiodun Rufai, operators of a non-existent company parading as TOOBI Projects Ltd for the construction of the building project under 70-30 sharing agreement.
The family members are amongst other things asking for N1billion as damages for trespass, an order of possession of the land including all 18 block of flats constructed on the land and perpetual restraining injunction against all the defendants.
The Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice and Ministry of Housing has however ,filed a joint defence to the suit claiming that the disputed land was acquired through a Global Acquisition dated July 1976.
The state government curiously noted in its defence that as at when the disputed land was acquired, the customary land owners, the Akinlowo Olaife family could not be found and that the notice of acquisition was pasted on a conspicuous object (a tree) on the land.
They further claimed that the disputed land was subsequently allocated to the Ministry of Housing in 2009 for the development of a 108 housing units under a public private partnership.
The state government was however silent on the allegation that the company which was awarded the contract to execute the building was fake and not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Also, the alter ego of the company, Arc. Abiodun Rufai and Arc. Abiodun Jagunna in their joint defence simply dismissed the allegation that their company TOOBI Projects Ltd was not registered with the CAC, describing it as gold digging on the part of the claimants.
But in their reply to statement of defence, the Akinlowo Olaife refuted the state government’s claim stating that the Global Acquisition referred to by the state covered the entire land west of Muritala Mohammed Airport and not particularly the disputed land.
The family noted that TOOBI POJECTS Ltd is an illegal company insisting that a search conducted for name registration indicated that the company was available for registration.
The matter has been fixed for July 8 for hearing.