Richard Kasunmu, Chairman, House Committee on Lands (middle) and other members of the committee during the briefing

The Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Lands at the weekend rubbished report that it issued secret approval of land to the Ojoko family in Magodo GRA Phase I.

The committee said such report in the media was unfounded and spurious.

Richard Kasunmu, Chairman, House Committee on Lands, at a press briefing held in the Assembly Complex, on Friday, said the committee had been investigating the matter with all intent, integrity and never favouring any party in the dispute.

He said the House, after receiving a petition from Ojoko family as a way of intervening for amicable solution, embarked in investigation into the matter.

The land tussle is between Ojoko family land owners and Magodo GRA Phase 1, Gateway Zone, Community Development Area (CDA) who bought land from the family before the current disagreement.

According to Kasumu, the executives of the CDA severally boycotted meetings initiated by the Committee to hear from both parties, including the State officials who were also on the site, adding that while investigation was still ongoing, the committee was shocked to read on the pages of a newspaper that the Assembly had made secret approval of land to the Ojoko family.

He explained that it was not part of the House rules for a committee to take resolution on behalf of the Assembly and that the committee only made recommendations which would be submitted to the Assembly when the House resumes from recess.

“It will be very wrong for the Magodo Zone CDA to blackmail and wrongly accuse this noble House of Assembly of secretly approving a land to the Ojoko family when we are yet to present before the Assembly, the report of our investigation.

“As a committee, we cannot make resolution on the land tussle but can only make recommendations to the House then the 40 lawmakers would deliberate on the recommendations and make resolution. I am telling you authoritatively that we did not secretly approve any land,” he stated.

Kasumu said the CDA was using the instrumentality of CDA to frustrate the investigation by the committee, saying it  would be malicious for the CDA to have resulted to media blackmail.

The Ojoko family, Olowo-Ira Magodo had petitioned the House of Assembly seeking its intervention over the refusal of Magodo CDA to allow an upgrading of drainage on a portion of the land.

In the petition dated 14th November, 2019, through their counsel, GV Chambers, the family stated that they had been the owner of the vast land from time immemorial and had always exercised maximum acts of ownership thereon.

According to the family, it was trite knowledge that the Land Use Act dispossessed various land owning families, including “ours of proprietary ancestral inheritance for public use and common good. It is also knowledge that whenever and wherever this is done, an official gazette will be issued by the government specifying the extent of acquisition. This was done and an excision was subsequently granted to our family in the wisdom of the Lagos State Government for the use of the family and our future generations.”

It said that they were shocked by publications of injurious falsehood emanating from one Oyebode Ojomu describing the property first as a designated green zone.

“What is of grave concern to us as lawyers and our clients is the further involvement of New Towns Development Authority (NTDA) high ranking official in this vitriolic and unfounded campaign of brash calumny. To further aggravate a bad situation, under the advice of NTDA the so called CDA Chairman has proceeded to lock out our clients from accessing their property,” the petition said.

The family accused the CDA of conceiving the notion of appropriating the expanse of land belonging to the family.

However, the Chairman of the CDA, Oyebode Ojomu, in a letter written on the 7th January 2020, and addressed to the Chairman House Committee on Land Matters, apologized that there would be no representation of the CDA for the meeting called by the committee, stating that all they needed to say on the land tussle had already been expressed at the last meeting.

“We have averred that we do not know the petitioners in law since our Mandate is limited to Gateway Zone Estate in which the principals of the petitioner has no ‘locus standi’ and we as a community not inclined to join any issues with the petitioner for whatever reasons” said the CDA in its letter to the committee

The CDA stressed that its contention would be LASG to see reasons that the adjoining canal to Gateway Estate Magodo GRA Phase 1 and 2, Otedola and Implementation Phase 2 Estate remain a wetland described as Gorge in the LASG/NTDA masterplan which environmentalist describes as Green Belt Zone.

” In an era of climate change and evident errors of government with Isheri North Scheme, Lekki Areas and the landslide, we had experienced in Magodo to keep mute and not voice out the dangers inherent in a planned environmental hazards and degradation that endangered our lives and properties to support government to take the right decisions to save lives with the criminal negligence on our part”,said the CDA