Property owners in Lagos State have decried the unnecessary demolition and illegal seizure of their properties by the Babajide Sanwo-Olu government for the construction of the Lekki Regional Road project.
The 8.75kilometr-long road will link the Lekki-Epe expressway at Victoria Garden City (VGC) junction to Freedom Way in Eti-Osa, on the island of Lagos State.
The property owners are aggrieved because the State Government did not enter into any form of consultation with them before their properties were seized and destroyed, a situation that was extended to already occupied properties by the state’s contractor, Hi-Tech Construction Company.
The wanton seizure of legally acquired properties, with valid titled documents and government consent, according to the owners, negates the principles of fairness from a democratically elected government, whose duty it is to protect lives and properties of citizens, and in any action, to follow due process.
Also, many of the land owners were deceived to believe they will be engaged in negotiation, with the State Government fixing meetings that their officials did not attend, only for Hi-Tech Construction Company, the state’s contractor, to start demolishing people’s fences and occupied properties.
This action, according to them, amount to inexcusable use of power by a democratically elected governor, who it is within its purview to ensure peace and security of lives and properties.
They have vowed to defend their rights in court, in line with Section 2 of the 2016 Lagos State Properties Protection Law which posits that the use of force or self-help or any act inconsistent with the proprietary right of the owner to take over any landed property has been prohibited.
The property owners also pointed out Section 43 and 44(1) of the 1999 Constitution which stipulates the rights to own property and also the prohibition of seizure of property without legal authority and provision for compensation.
It is a known fact that government has the right to make use of property within the state for developmental reasons, but the onus is still on the Sanwo-Olu led administration to also take into full consideration the interest of property owners to ensure adequate compensation before confiscation.
A visit by our correspondent last week saw properties being destroyed and fences being pulled down, including those occupied without recourse to due process.
The land owners expressed grievances with the conduct of the Lagos State Government which did not address their plight as citizens while trying to lessen the sufferings of road users along that axis.