Govt seeks out of court settlement on Festac Phase II land suit
Respite may finally be on the way for developers and allottees in the proposed FESTAC Phase II redevelopment scheme as the federal authorities have waded into the crisis that ensued over a judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos, which awarded part of the FESTAC Phase II land in Lagos to the Kuje – Amuwo Chieftaincy family.
But the move to ease the tension and suspense that have engulfed the scheme is coming as an initiative of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), owners of the Festac project.
In 2002, FHA conceded a portion of the land to Ado village in response to their pleas to the authority for more land following which additional 250 allocations were released to them. Out of the plots, 110 allocations had been perfected with 140 pending.
Dissatisfied with the government, three families in the community took the FHA to court on the allegation that part of the land was not legally given to the authority. While the court cases were pending, land speculators (Omo Onile) sold part of the land to some individuals.
Specifically, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, had convened a meeting of his officials, those of the FHA and New Festac Property Development Company (NFPDCL), where he recommended an out-of- court resolution of the case; through positive engagement of all stakeholders, especially the Kuje Amuwo community.
In the meeting, the Managing Director of NFPCL, Mr. Goody Egbuji said although the FHA was exercising satisfactory control over the project, the Minister’s intervention was required to push the project forward.
He said all the relevant stakeholders including the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), FHA and the then Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development had made input to the concession agreement signed on September 8, 2014.
According to Egbuji, although the concession agreement covered an area of 1,126 hectares, the company, on moving to the site found that heavy encroachments had taken place there. He said his officials were in China, trying to round up the projects financial closure attainment when the court pronounced its judgment.
In his own submission, the Managing Director, Professor Mohammed Al-Amin noted that the land was left fallow for some time and that the Authority issued some allocations in 1992 to Nigerians to develop special house types in the area.
He added that in 2011/2012, three families of the community took the FHA to court on the allegation that part of the land was not legally given to the authority. While the court cases were pending, the Managing Director said land speculators (Omo Onile) sold part of the land to some individuals.
After the court granted their prayers, Al-Amin said miscreants immediately broke loose pulling down structures and harassing law abiding citizens in the affected areas. Such unhealthy post judgment action, he pointed out, necessitated the engagement of the residents by the FHA and NFPDCL to encourage them to maintain law and order in the estate.
Al-Amin said the authority was awaiting the copy of the judgment for assessment and possible appeal.
Responding, Fashola said it was important to get a copy of the judgment so that the stakeholders could review it and agree on the way forward.
Meanwhile, the Kuje-Amuwo Chieftaincy family has expressed its willingness to discuss an out- of-court settlement of the pending litigation on FESTAC Phase II land in Lagos. The family gave the undertaking at a meeting with an FHA delegation led by Prof. Al-Amin.
A representative of the family, Mr. Suleiman Aderounmu said the Federal Government acquired the land through the Lagos State government and that compensation was paid to them. The family claimed that the acquired land was gazetted in 1977 and that in 1986, another survey plan was prepared by the FHA extending the size of the acquired land which he said was not
They are relying on their 2009 letter to the then Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Ministry’s December 15, 2010 reply in which the land area (FESTAC Phase II 6th and 7th Avenues) was added to them. According to them, the demarcation was conducted by a team from the ministry. The family subsequently proceeded to court to ascertain its right of ownership over the land.
The Kuje-Amuwo family, reiterating that it did not sponsor the miscreants perpetrating mayhem in the disputed area promised to issue a press statement, dissociating itself from the activities of the hoodlums in FESTAC Phase II.
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