The traditional ruler of Epe, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Oba Kamurudeen Ishola Animashaun, is having a running battle with a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and head of a firm, Riverbond Nigeria Limited, Chief Lanre Razak, over a mass of land located in the area.
While Chief Razak, a former commissioner in the state, claimed his firm purchased the land 34 years ago for the construction of an estate, the traditional ruler says the claim is false and that the land had been allocated to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) for a substation.
Reacting to the statement by Chief Razak, Oba Animashaun said the land belongs to the community and was not at any time sold to either Chief Lanre Razaq or Rivbond Nigeria Limited.
According to the Oba, who spoke on the issue on Tuesday, “Chief Razaq cannot prove that he bought the land; the Temu community that he claimed sold the land to him has confirmed that it did not sell the land to him or to anybody and the land remains a community property which has been given to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) for a sub-station.”
The traditional ruler said when the community discovered that Razaq was laying claims to the ownership of the land, it made representations to Governor Babatunde Fashola adding that investigations into the issue revealed that Chief Razak’s claim was false.
He said as a result of this, the state governor had promptly revoked the right of occupancy to the land which the state had earlier given to him.
The notice of revocation which Oba Animashaun displayed to prove his point was dated 14 October, 2011 and signed by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola.
The revocation letter as read by the Oba stated: “in the matter of all that parcel of land (with any improvement thereon) measuring 4, 144.820 square metres situate and lying along Ikorodu-Itokin-Epe/Epe Ajah Express Road, Epe in Epe Local Government Area of Lagos state of Nigeria;
“Whereas the Governor of Lagos state of Nigeria requires all that land belonging to Messer Rivbond Nigeria Limited with C of O dated 6th Day of August 2009, and registered No. 30/30/2009Q specified in the Schedule attached to this Notice for overriding public interest (construction of proposed 132/33kv substation);
“The said parcel of land being situate and lying at that place specified above in Epe Local Government Area of Lagos state containing the area of which is described in the schedule hereto and more particularly delineated in the plan at the office of the Director of Lands Services, Lands Bureau, Governor’s office, the Secretariat, Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, Lagos of Nigeria;
“Now therefore, in the exercise of the powers conferred on me pursuant to Section 28 of the Land Use Act Cap. 202 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria: I, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), the Executive Governor of Lagos state hereby revoke the existing right of occupancy in the said land with effect from 7 days of the service of this Notice for the reason given above.
“That any holder, owner or occupier of the said land or any part thereof is accordingly directed to yield up possession of the land on or before the expiration of the period specified in this Notice.”
Oba Animashaun said with the revocation, the interest of the people of Epe must override the interest of any individual in respect to the land.
Chief Razak had, in a press conference last Thursday, explained that his Rivebond Nigeria Limited had made plans to build a private housing estate on the land in line with the state government’s focus on Public-Private Partnership.
He described the project as a first class housing estate that would be sited at the Epe ‘T’ junction adding that the necessary processes for the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy commenced in 2009 after the firm payed about N24 million.
He had also explained that there was a minor misrepresentation about the site and that this had caused the delay in the take-off of the project as according to him, “the assumption was that the land belonged to the community and it was given out to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria before documents revealed the authentic owners.
“With the intervention of the state governor, the issue has been resolved and the project will take off any time from now.”
Razak, had explained that an additional 12.5 hectares of land had been acquired close to the estate for the PHCN 132 KVA substation and that officials of electricity company had visited the site and certified that it is good enough for the proposed substation.
“Even the Federal Ministry of Environment has completed the environmental assessment impact report on the site,” Razak had said while praising Governor Fashola for his role in the entire issue.