Elder statesman, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, has said Lagos State Government owns Ikoyi, Banana Island, Osborne Foreshore, Festival Town (FESTAC), Satellite Town, Trade Fair, among others.
The former commissioner disclosed that the title of the lands were vested in the governor of the state and urged the Federal Government to hand over the assets to the state government.
The elder statesman also expressed sadness over the current status of the Federal Secretariat in Lagos and other abandoned assets of the federal government in the state. He urged that the assets be returned to the state for effective and proper usage.
Okunnu, who is a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said this at Lagos House in Ikeja, yesterday, when he presented the report of a Special Committee on Federal Government Assets in the state, set up by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, which he chaired.
Okunnu said the issue of the federal secretariat in Ikoyi was particularly saddening to him for the fact that it was during his tenure as federal commissioner for Works that the structure was constructed.
“The land upon which the secretariat is situated is part of the Crown Land, now state land. The title is vested in Lagos State, but, when he was governor of Lagos state, Brigadier General Omobola Johnson (retd) agreed to release that land to the federal government when they wanted to build the federal secretariat.
“Today, I don’t like to pass through that way because I get sad anytime I see the current state. It is not only the quarters, but the land on which many of these buildings in the areas are situated. In our committee, we have tried to argue that the whole of Ikoyi with the boundary at Lagos Canal, standing between Ikoyi Island and Lagos Island, title to the whole of the Island was vested in the government of Lagos State when Lagos became a Crown Colony. The whole of Ikoyi, including Osborne Foreshore, Banana Island and others belong to the state government,” Okunnu said.
Going down memory lane, Okunnu also noted that title to the whole of Festac Town was vested in the government of Lagos State just as he said the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Trade Fair remain tenants of the state government.
“Lagos state government acquired the land of the Trade Fair site, but, the federal government took over the land and promised to compensate the state, which was to be paid to the original owners of the land, but, that compensation was not paid. Today, Trade Fair has been turned into a market, far from the original purpose intended.
“Satellite Town, too, is vested in Lagos state. It is the federal government which should prove the title to any land which it claims to own in Lagos State, but, I will like to urge the federal government to return the lands to the state government,” Okunnu noted.
He said during the course of the committee’s findings, several government agencies were contacted, including Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing as well as Ministry of Defence, among others, and expressed optimism that the state and federal government would find a lasting solution to the issue.
In his response after receiving the report, Ambode commended the committee members, which included Femi Falana, Partner of Simmons Cooper, Mrs. Victoria Alonge, among others, for the painstaking efforts put into the report. He added that the report came at a time when the state government was in dire need of space for developmental projects that would improve the socio-economic wellbeing of its residents.
in line with the realities of present times. He said such projects, when embarked upon, would help to reflate the economy and improve the GDP of the state.
“It is our hope that this initiative will put an end to the long-standing dispute between federal and Lagos State governments over the federal government disused lands and buildings and disputed quarters in various parts of the state which are no longer in use for the purposes for which they were originally released to the federal government
“We are hopeful that this report will get favourable response from the federal government especially given the fact that the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) was a passionate advocate of this issue during his tenure as the governor of Lagos State and is now a representative of Lagos State in the Federal Cabinet.”
Besides, Ambode directed members of the committee to move further by mediating between the state and the federal government on how the assets would be released to Lagos State.