• As Lagos seeks Supreme Court’s judgment interpretation
There appears to be no hope in sight for the Shangisha Landlords’ Association in their attempt to get their properties back, as Lagos State government has sought further directives and clarifications from the Supreme Court judgment.
Worried by government’s inertia in returning the 549 plots of lands allegedly taken from them in the Magodo area, the association has also petitioned President, Muhammadu matter.
The Magodo land tussle started in 1984 when the Lagos State government and its civil servants allegedly invaded the properties in Magodo area of Shangisha and demolished them, taking possession by force.
The landlords had approached the court to seek redress, both at the State High Court, the Court of Appeal to which the state appealed and at the Supreme Court, where the state further appealed and judgment, subsequently awarded in their favour in 2012.
In the judgment, the state government was ordered to give the Shangisha landlord’s association 549 plots of land in Magodo Phase 11 but the government has so far not responded.
The landlords, in an open letter written to President Buhari, accused the judgment debtor of indefinite discontinuation of the settlement process and described government’s inaction as an attempt to legitimise corruption, since it is in public knowledge that many of its officials are illegal occupants in the Shangisha-Magodo scheme.
In the petition letter jointly signed by the association chairman, Adebayo Adeyiga and the secretary, Mr. Ayanbadejo, the group said: “As of January 28, 2022, government stated verbally that over 400 plots had been discovered and as a consequence the meeting was adjourned to February 11 for them to conclude what needed to be done.
“On February 11, 2022, we proceeded to the venue of the meeting, which we had thought would be the grand finale to harmonise our positions and would be an ideal opportunity to see the layout of the plots and visit the portion, we were informed without prior notice that the meeting had been postponed indefinitely. ”
In the ‘Save our Soul’ petition, the association urged President Buhari to intervene in the impasse based on the reason that he assumed leadership of the country on the premise of not only fighting corruption, but upholding the rule of law.
According to them, the discontinuation of the settlement process indefinitely by the Lagos state government is nothing but an attempt to legitimise corruption.
They urged the President, to call the Lagos State government to order as government’s action is deceitful.
The association said: ” It is dishonourable in all circumstances and capable of destroying this democracy and for a government that has benefitted massively from previous judgment of the Supreme Court, this is a new low and smacks of double standards.”
After several meetings to resolve the matter, police officers allegedly led landowners in the area to invade Magodo Estate, to claim possession of the property based on the Supreme Court’s judgment, which caused tension in the neigbourhood.
The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu during the meeting with the stakeholders on January 5, 2022, had pledged through a special committee led by the Attorney General of Lagos State and several other top officials that government will identify land within the Shangisha Estate and other parts of the state to get the 549 plots of land for the aggrieved landlords to resolve the land dispute.
MEANWHILE, the State Government said it has approached the Supreme Court to seek further directives and clarifications on the matter. The Judgment creditors have been served with the application.
The government reiterated its commitment to complying with the judgment of the Supreme Court once these two issues are resolved. According to the government, “there was a serious division among the judgment creditors as to who controlled or had the right to represent the association; and the demand by the judgment creditors that a single global Certificate of Occupancy (CofO)should be issued in the name of the association as opposed to the position of the government that each of the 549 members of the association would be given allotment letters individually.”
A statement by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said: “Given the sharp divide between the two factions of the judgment creditors on who has authority to represent the association and the disagreement regarding whom the C of O should be issued (collectively or individually).