It is no longer news that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has announced the plan construction of a regional road that will link Lekk-Epe expressway at Victoria Garden City (VGC) to the island of Lagos.
This well hyped project which is being handled by Hi-Tech Construction Company has led to the illegal seizure and appropriation of many landed properties with valid titled documents and government consent.
It is strange that in the 21st Century, a democratically elected government will arbitrarily seize people’s properties without due process, full negotiation and compensation, even when interest in such properties were duly registered at the Lagos state Government.
Many of the property owners have vowed to defend protect their interest in the properties being forcefully encroached upon by the Lagos state Government, in line with Section 2 of the 2016 Lagos State Properties Protection Law which posits that the use of force or self-help or any act inconsistent with the proprietary right of the owner to take over any landed property has been prohibited.
They also pointed out Section 43 and 44(1) of the 1999 Constitution which stipulates the right to own property and also the prohibition of seizure of property without legal authority and compensation.
It is a known fact that government may have rights to make use of private property where there is overriding public interest, but there is are legal steps that should mandatory be followed under the Land Use Act, before such acquisition can take effect.
The Sanwo-Olu led administration has deliberately failed and neglected to take into consideration the interest of property owners by ensuring adequate negotiation as well as compensation.
It is quite ironical that the Lagos first citizen would rather overlook the rights of property owners simply because he wants to impress on his performance, using an over-hyped regional road.
A visit by our correspondent last week saw properties being destroyed and fences being pulled down, including those already occupied without due process.
Also, many of the land owners were deceived to believe they will be engaged in negotiation, with the State Government fixing meetings which their officials did not attend, only for Hi-Tech Construction Company, the state’s contractor, to start demolishing people’s fences and occupied properties.
This action, according to the property owners, amount to unjustifiable use of power by a democratically elected governor, who it is within its purview to ensure peace and security of lives and properties.
They further affirmed that the statement by Governor Sanwo-Olu at the flag-off of the 8.75 kilometre-long road project which tries to reduce the suffering of Lagos citizens on road congestion, should have also address their plight, as citizens, whose rightfully acquired properties have been destroyed without consultation .