Homeowners and other residents of Masha, Surulere, Lagos State, have resolved to file an action in court as the traditional ruler of the area, the Onikate of Ikate, Oba Lateef Atanda Adams, is laying claim to the entire land measuring 315.9 acres.
All the buildings which fall within the land area numbering over 300 have been marked with the inscription ‘IKD/288/68 possession taken today 30/3/2923 by the court’. The notice took the residents by surprise as they said they were not aware of any court case and subsequent judgment concerning the properties.
The traditional ruler who is threatening to revoke the ownership of the entire land from the present occupiers pined his action on a judgment delivered by Justice Olusan Bada of the Lagos State High Court in suit No 18/118/68 on November 10, 1975, between Kasali Idewu and ORS V Ayisatu Yaya and ORS, which declared the land measuring 315.9 acres as captured by survey plan number ‘AGW/263’ to the defendants/judgment creditors and affirmed by the ruling delivered by Justice M.A. Lawal of the Ikeja Judicial Division of the High Court of Lagos State on December 9, 2022.
He argued that the state government did not pay compensation to the family/original landowners when the land was acquired about 40 years ago, as stipulated by the Land Use Act of 1978.
The situation caused panic among most of the residents who could not understand what was going on.
Some of the residents who spoke with Prime Business Africa said the Federal Government built the houses and allocated them to civil servants who paid for them in the 1960s. They called on the Federal Government that allocated the land to them to come to their aid.
One of the residents, Mr Adenekan Adegoke, said he was one of those who bought houses from the Federal Government in the 1960s when Lagos was not yet a state but regarded as a colony.
“The properties were actually built by the Federal Government and sold to civil servants in the 60s. Most of the allocations were made between 1967 and 1969, and the original owners have been living there since the allocations were made. Nobody bought any land from anybody (private individuals) in the area. The government actually built houses and sold the buildings to civil servants. That’s what happened,” Adegoke narrated.
Mr Adegoke further stated that the area the Oba is currently claiming was never part of his jurisdiction. “The Oba is of Ikate. Ikate does not extend to this place. For anyone that knows the history of Surulere very well, Ikate was in the western region. It never extended to Lagos. It is quite a surprise now that they are laying claim, and of cause, it is badly done.”
He further stated that what the traditional ruler ought to do was to sue the Federal Government that built the houses and allocated to them, and not obtain a court order and come to evict them from the area.
“We were not aware of any court judgment. The Oba just woke one day and started writing on people’s walls indicating that an order has been given for them to vacate. We didn’t see any court judgment; no indication of places affected. It is quite a surprise. Even Oba himself, I don’t think he was yet born when the allocations were made. It is not only here, it extended up to Barracks and the stadium; all were acquired by the Federal Government then and it was called New Lagos then. It is quite a surprise. None of the residents was actually sued. He just came with thugs and start marking people’s properties indicating order, what order?” he queried.
He said the Oba came with over 30 thugs to mark the houses and that the Surulere Local Council’s Physical Planning Permit Authority said they are not aware of any court proceedings and order of possession of the affected area.
He said no police officer was present when the Oba came to mark the houses to show that it is a genuine order.
Meanwhile, Oba Adams claimed that the present property owners did not buy the land directly from the family, therefore, must present the receipts or other relevant documents on such property to enter new agreements with the family or the original Owners.
He, therefore, urged the owners of the affected property to come with all the relevant documents they have to facilitate a settlement.
“They should let us sit down and settle this thing before it gets out of hand. They should come to regularize with us. They cannot win in court. They should come or else I will demolish everything. We need their cooperation. Let the government call me so that we can have a roundtable,” Oba Adams said.
On the next line of action, Mr Adegoke said the community members have set up a committee that has raised legal experts to handle the matter in court.