Illegal landlords who had encroached into LASU lands through the deceit of land speculators, have in a new twist, said they donâ€™t want to be tenants to the institution but abide only by the state governmentâ€™s policy on the issue at another stakeholders meeting aimed at reaching an amicable resolution on the matter. Funmi Ogundare, who has been following the development reports
Tension heightened as thousands of tenants who had encroached on Lagos State University (LASU) Ojo land, recently stormed the Sports Centre of the institution for a stakeholdersâ€™ meeting with the management, with the aim of securing an amicable joint decision that would promote peace between the management and the affected community members.
The tenants from different communities, including Igboelerin, Great Challenge, Ojo Local Government Area, Iba LCDA, Surulere, among others, came with banners stating where their communities are located.
THISDAY had reported two weeks ago that the level of encroachment at the Ojo Campus is approximately 75 per cent, a situation that is hindering the expansion of the institution.
THISDAY also reported that LASU management had met with representatives of the affected houses at its first stakeholdersâ€™ meeting held in December when it was agreed that property owners on the institutionâ€™s land would pay an amount to the university for the procurement of certain documents that would qualify them as tenants to the institution and that the owners of properties in the communities cannot boast of a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and land survey documents.
Present at the meeting, aside from the illegal tenants, were the state Governor, Mr. Akinwummi Ambode, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lanre Fagbohun, the Nigerian police force, among others.
Mounting the podium, Adebule made efforts to calm residentsâ€™ frayed nerves, saying that buildings encroaching on the LASU land will not be demolished and that the interest of members of the public would continue to be the current administrationâ€™s top priority.
She however regretted that the tenants were deceived by land speculators (omo onile) to encroach on the land belonging to the institution.
According to her, â€œgovernment will not demolish your houses; rather, we will find amicable resolution that will promote peace.â€
She advised the property owners to cooperate with government in acquiring the necessary documents, noting that the present administration does not intend to increase the hardship of the people but was poised to ensure that things were done right.
â€œThe governor is putting down this amicable measure because he is aware that you are the ones who voted for him. In truth the lands here are under acquisition and by the constitution belong to the government.
â€œHowever, we will have to regularise and give you papers or else your properties are worthless. Therefore, all guidelines that will be released after this meeting should be followed. We also wish to reiterate that there is no wish to increase your burdens rather, we want to follow due process on the regularisation process,â€ she stressed.
Speaking on behalf of the Ojo Community, the Baale of Igbo Elerin Town, Alhaji Aina Taofeek, who had previously issued a death threat to the LASU familiarisation team to the communities, appealed to the state government to consider their poor economic condition while determining what to pay for the land to government as the original landowners.
â€œEvery discussion on the land should be between the state government and the landlords. We donâ€™t want to be tenants to LASU,â€ he said, adding that they would want to cooperate and abide only by the state governmentâ€™s policy on the matter.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, said despite the fact that available documents on land administration in the state clearly indicated that the lands in question are acquisition, many landlords in the Ojo area of the state have encroached into government lands through the deceit of land speculators.
â€œGovernment will not because of its power bring bulldozers here to demolish your houses because you are all our family members. Remember you voted us into power and we are to represent your interest. Our government will not do anything that will bring hardship to any member of the public; rather we will go for an amicable resolution that will promote peace and harmony in our communities.â€
He affirmed that government white paper on the matter would soon be made public through its agency on land administration, while promising that as a listening government, the three demands put across to it would be taken into consideration while taking a decision on the matter in the interest of peace.
Bank-Olemoh added that the government called the meeting to make a joint decision that would promote peace.
Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun said another stakeholdersâ€™ meeting was necessary to find an amicable solution to the problem, because the meeting that was organised by the institution in last December was not well attended as many tenants did not turn up.
He noted that despite the fact that the university has been in existence for years and people had encroached into its land, its authority and the concerned community members can still come together to resolve the matter amicably. â€œThe beauty of democracy is that everybody is given the freedom to express his or her own opinion on every matter.â€
The Chairman of the landlords under the auspices of Iba New Town Stakeholders Association, Chief Eleodi Okwu had described the development as worrisome, saying that most landlords had bought their respective parcels of land over three decades before LASU came up with its claim of ownership of the area.
He however, commended the move by the state government to intervene in the matter by calling for a meeting between both parties.
â€œWith the promise made at the recent LASU declaration by the deputy governor that our demand of not being LASU tenants would be conveyed to the governor, coupled with the promise that our investments and houses shall not be subjected to demolition are surely signs of good tidings to this town.
â€œIt is based on this that we are thanking the Lagos State government for its show of understanding and support. We are full of hope, trust and we passionately appeal for the complete excision of Iba New Town from government acquisition. We reject in totality the idea of making us LASU tenants.
â€œAfter considering the unfortunate economic situation in the country, coupled with the vast number of houses involved, we appeal that a special rate of direct charge is evolved to enable us obtain our title documents from government. Presently Iba New Town comprises 5,000 houses, which owners are prepared to pay directly to the state government,â€ Okwu stressed.