Lagos-Ibadan Road: Lagos, Bi-Courtney Head For Showdown

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The planned construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has run into another hitch as the Lagos State Government and Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited head for another showdown over proposed demolition of structures in the area by Bi-Courtney.

Bi-Courtney and the Ogun State Government are currently embroiled in controversy over the construction of the road. Bi-Courtney had been given 60 days ultimatum by the Federal Government to begin palliative work on the road or lose the contract.

The Lagos State Government said Bi-Courtney lacked the power to mark properties within its territory for demolition, according to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without due approval from the state government.

According to the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Lands Bureau, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, the Land Use Act and the constitution vested exclusive power of revocation of right of occupancy to any piece of land within a state in the governor of the state.

A notice issued by the Lands Bureau on Thursday said it was unconstitutional for Bi-Courtney to issue notice of acquisition to residents abutting the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

“We have observed that some house owners or residents in the Ikosi GRA and its environs are being served with notices, alleging that their property 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,” the notice stated.

“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,” it added.

The state government added that under the 1999 constitution, the Federal Highways Act could only have effect with such modifications as might be necessary to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the Constitution and the Land Use Act, which vested exclusive power of revocation of right of occupancy to any piece of land within the state in the governor of the state.

The notice drew the attention of Bi-Courtney and the Federal Government to the Section 21 of the Federal Highways Act 1971 (Cap. F.13 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004), saying 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.”

The government averred that the section did not confer power of acquisition or revocation of right of occupancy on the minister or his contractual parties.

When contacted, Bi-Courtney spokesman, Mr. Dipo Kehinde said the move was another agenda being pursued by the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN to stall the project, saying this was why the Ogun State Government tried to prevent the company from installing its asphalt plant.

He stated that the houses in the right of way of the Federal Government road would surely be demolished and compensation paid to the victims.

“Don’t forget that we are not to only do palliative measure but to expand the road to four lanes on each side from Lagos end to Sagamu and six lanes each from Sagamu to Ibadan. We are going ahead with the project and the Federal Government will give us the necessary support and the right of way,” he said.

According to him, the current move by the Lagos State Government represented another hurdle, saying that 50 hurdles had already been overcome in the past, adding that “we will overcome this hurdle.”

 

—Kazeem Ugbodaga

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