FRESH TROUBLE LOOMS FOR FG, BI-COURTNEY OVER LAGOS-IBADAN EXPRESSWAY
The Lagos State Government appears to be on collision course with the Federal Government and Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited over the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, saying it 'lacks power to mark properties within its territory for demolition.'
Daily Sun learnt in a document issued and signed by the State Lands Bureau Permanent Secretary, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, that the 1999 Constitution (Amendment 2011) and Land Use Act 'vest exclusive power of revocation of right of occupancy to any piece of land within the state in the governor of the state.'
According to the notice dated August 4, Muri-Okunola stated that the act by the agents of the Federal Government to issue notice of acquisition issued by Bi-Courtney Highway Services, the concessionaire of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was illegal and unconstitutional.
He noted that some house owners or residents in the Ikosi GRA and its environs, 'are being served with notices, alleging that their properties fall within the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway expansion project site and was to be acquired and demolished.
'Some of these properties have consequently been marked for demolition. The agents of the Federal Government have also been going around offering or negotiating compensation payable for the acquisition,' he stated. In pursuant of the argument, he referred the Federal Government and Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited to the Section 21 of the Federal Highways Act 1971 (Cap. F.13 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004), stating that the law 'merely vests power in the minister of works to authorise any person to enter upon any land in any locality needed for purpose of a federal highway…'
According to him, the section did not confer power of acquisition or revocation of right of occupancy on the minister or his contractual parties. The permanent secretary stated that under the 1999 Constitution, the Federal Highways Act 'can only have effect with such modifications as may be necessary to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the Constitution and the Land Use Act, which vest exclusive power of revocation of right of occupancy to any piece of land within the state in the governor of the state.
'The Lagos State Government wishes to dissociate itself with the acquisition and demolition notices issued in respect of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project and to stress the fact that the power and responsibility for land acquisition, planning and physical development within the state's territory rests with the state government and same has not been delegated to any person or authority,' he added.