Ambode Demands Return of Federal Assets in Lagos

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• Links recovery to reflation of state’s economy
Gboyega Akinsanmi
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Tuesday asked the federal government to return all the disused lands, buildings and disputed quarters it acquired in the state, saying the assets “are no longer in use for the purpose the apex government acquired it.”

 Consequently, the governor said the recovery of the federal assets was strategic to reflating the economy of the state and improving its GDP, saying it had become imperative that the state government “pursues this particular project to a laudable conclusion.”

 Ambode made the request at the State House yesterday after receiving the report of the Special Committee on Federal Government Assets in Lagos State he set up to determine the status and titles of the disused lands, buildings and disputed quarters are still occupying in the state.

 The committee, which was chaired by former Federal Commissioner for Works, Chief Femi Okunnu, comprised a human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, a SimmonsCooper partner, Mrs. Victoria Alonge and Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Lands Bureau, Mr. Olabode Agoro, among others.

 Specifically, the governor constituted the committee to put an end to the jurisdictional disagreement between the federal and state governments over the disused lands, buildings and disputed quarters to which the former still laid claim within the territory of the latter.

According to the committee, some federal government assets in dispute include Federal Secretariat, International Trade Fair Complex, Banana Island, Osborn Foreshore, Festac Town, Satellite Town and the whole of Ikoyi with boundary at Lagos Canal standing between Ikoyi Island and Lagos Island.
But after receiving the committee’s report yesterday, Ambode commended the committee for its painstaking efforts, noting that its efforts in ensuring that the state government recovers its lands, buildings as well as disputed quarters were very much appreciated.

He therefore, explained that the report of the committee “has come at a time when the state government is in dire need of space for development projects that would improve the socio-economic wellbeing of its residents in line with the socio-economic realities of present times.”

He also explained the significance of the disused assets in the state, thus linking it to one of the strategies his administration “can actually use to reflate its economy and improve its the GDP of Lagos. It has become imperative that we must pursue this particular project to a laudable conclusion.

“We hope this initiative will end the long standing dispute between the federal and state governments over the disused lands, buildings and disputed quarters in various parts of the state.
“These assets are no longer in use for the purposes for which they were originally released to the federal government. We are hopeful this report will get favorable response from the federal government now that these assets are no longer in use for the purposes they were acquired.”

Ambode, specifically, charged the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to ensure that the federal government release all the disused and disputed assets to the state government.
He noted that Fashola was a passionate advocate of this issue during his tenure as the Governor of Lagos State.

He added that the former governor is now a representative of Lagos State in the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
After submitting the report, Okunnu expressed sadness over the current status of the Federal Secretariat in Lagos and other abandoned assets of the federal government in the state, noting that the assets be returned to the state government for effective and proper usage.

He said the assets “are not only quarters, but the land on which these buildings are situated. We have tried to argue that the whole of Ikoyi with boundary at Lagos Canal standing between Ikoyi Island and Lagos Island.”

He added that title to the whole of the Islands “is vested in the Government of Lagos State when Lagos became Crown Colony. Title to the whole of Ikoyi including Osborn Foreshore, Banana Island is vested in the government of Lagos State. We have other areas we have covered.

“The state owned Festac Town. The title to the town is vested in the government of Lagos State. Federal Housing Authority (FHA) is the tenant of the Government of Lagos State indeed. Also, the title to the Trade Fair site is vested in Lagos State.

“The government of Lagos State acquired the Land of the Trade Fair site. But the federal government gave a promise to pay the state compensation which was to be paid to the original owners of the land. That compensation was not paid,” Okunnu noted.

He added that title to Satellite Town too “is vested in Lagos State. It is the federal government which should prove title to any land, which it claims to own in Lagos State. The land on which the International Trade Fair Complex was situated was acquired for the purpose of the trade fair, but the place had been turned into market.

“Federal Secretariat gives me sadness because I built it when I was the Federal Commissioner for Works. The land upon which federal secretariat is situated is part of the Crown land, which is now state land.
“The title to the Crown land is vested in Lagos State. But Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson agreed to release that land to the federal government when they wanted to build federal secretariat.

“We hope that discussions between Lagos State Government and federal government on hand over of federal lands, state lands within Lagos and disuse or surplus lands which federal government, especially defence and prisons are still occupying in Lagos are resolved.
“Large parcels of the land are now surplus to what is required under the land. We hope that discussions between Lagos State and federal governments will be held to settle this palaver once and for all.”