Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN (2nd left), Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, TPL Toyin Ayinde (3rd left), his Waterfront and Infrastructure Development counterpart, Prince Adesegun Oniru (3rd right), Chief of Staff, Mr. Lanre Babalola (2nd right), Deputy Director, Ministry of Works, Engr. Somide Ayodele (right) and Managing Director, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Yinka Marinho (left) during Governor Fashola’s inspection visit to the Osborne Jetty being built by the State Government at Ikoyi, Lagos, on Sunday, March 1, 2015.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Sunday, 1st March, 2015, inspected the Osborne Ferry Terminal and the on-going Osborne Woodland Project saying his administration would seek redress in court to protect the public where there rights were being infringed upon by private interests.
A resident of Ikoyi Gardens Estate, an estate close to the two projects, had reportedly gone to court to challenge the location of the Ferry Terminal and has already obtained a court injunction stopping further construction on the grounds that it would disturb his building while some other persons claim that the Federal Government gave them land on the site of the Osborne Woodland Project.
Speaking to journalists after the inspection of the Osborne Ferry Termination, which is about 90 per cent completed, Governor Fashola expressed surprise that the person challenging the construction of the Terminal could go to court to stop the construction of a project which was already going on before he got approval to build his house in the area.
According to the Governor, “These are buildings that really did not exist here when we started this project and it is really interesting that somebody can now go to court to complain about a terminal that he met when he started construction and say that it is going to disturb his building”.
Noting that his administration started construction of the ferry terminals about three or four years ago as a way of addressing the state transport challenge and in furtherance of the administration’s intermodal transportation system, the Governor who said two of the terminals – Badore Ferry Terminal and Ikorodu Ferry Terminal – have already been completed, expressed dismay that since the commencement of the projects, government has been faced with one land dispute after another.
“Since we started all of these terminals, I think three or four years ago, it has been one land dispute after the other and settling them and just when this building was finishing, buildings that don’t even exist here, that we gave building permits to construct and develop now say they don’t want a terminal”, he said.
Governor Fashola described as a strange development a situation where private rights could supervene the interest of the public in the administration of justice adding, “But interestingly that person has obtained a court injunction stopping us from further constructing. I don’t know how the law works that way”.
On possibility of moral suasion being brought to bear to resolve the issues, the Governor declared, “Well nothing is off the table and that is my response. Nothing is off the table as far as I am concerned. But I think that in the law of jurisprudence that I know private rights do not supersede public interest. That is very basic common sense”.
According to him, “There are no closed estates by agreement in Lagos. Nobody guaranteed anybody that this is going to be a gated estate. So, if you applied here and we gave you building permit and you saw all of the developments that was here, it is strange now that you can turn around and say citizens can’t come to a ferry terminal because you have a house here”.
Governor Fashola, who said government would go to court to challenge the injunction and resolve the issue, described it as “a real deep irony” that some people would say they did not want a Jetty because they claimed that their area was a residential area adding, “But residents have to move, don’t they?”
After the inspection of the Woodland Project, Governor Fashola again expressed surprise that some people claimed that they were given land on the site by the Federal Government pointing out that the Constitution vested ownership of land on state governors who hold them in trust for citizens of the states.
The Governor explained, “Now, this is a green area by the free way and in our planning it is a green area; we decided to create an open park here, plant trees so that residents and adjourning communities can come here, children and families can come here and relax and play. You see such parks across the world”.
Describing the issues arising from the Project as “a tragedy of choices before us”, the Governor, who drew the attention of the journalists to a boy playing with football on a busy tarred road nearby, declared, “Now if we have this park here this is a place to play football. But unfortunately again trying to create a green area and what do we have? People want to build here”. He added, ”government has to apply the law here and do what we have to do.
“Some claim the Federal Government gave them land, Federal Government has no title to land, and the Constitution does not give the Federal Government title to land. Land is a Residual Matter in all the states and that is why if you look in the Land Use Act you will see that in all the states of the Federation, the Governor is the trustee of all the lands for the people of that state and not the Federal Government”, he explained.
Among those who accompanied the Governor on the inspection were some members of the State Executive Council including, the Chief of Staff, Mr. Lanre Babalola; the state Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello; and his Physical Planning and Urban Development and Water Front Infrastructure counterparts: TPL Toyin Ayinde and Prince Segun Oniru respectively; among other top officials of government. The Governor was conducted round the Osborne Ferry Terminal by the Managing Director, Lagos State Waterways Authority, Mr. Yinka Marinho, while the General Manager, Lagos State Parks and Gardens, Dr. (Mrs.) Titi Anibaba and the Horticulturist, Mr. Olusola Adekoya, conducted him round the Osborne Woodland Project.