Group petitions Governor Ambode, party
By Our Correspondent
The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa is in the eye of the storm.
This is because a non-governmental organization, the Salvage for Development Initiative, SDI has presently petitioned the Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, requesting that urgent action be taken over what it described as the Speaker’s alleged land grabbing tendencies.
In the petition, a copy of which was made available to The Difference, SDI is urging the governor to expedite action in investigating the Speaker over allegations of land grabbing. It said that it is ironic that the Speaker, who superintended over the passage of the anti-land grabbing bill, which the governor has signed into law since August 15, 2016, could be found to be involved in such acts, and using his position to take over the properties of hapless Lagosians.
Equally also, the civil rights group is asking the governor to investigate the issuance of allegedly fake letters of allocation by officials of the State Ministry of Lands on a plot of land that is entirely private and not linked to any subsisting government scheme.
Indeed, analysts say that it is most worrisome that the said allegation is coming at a time when the Muhammadu Buhari administration is intensifying efforts to rid the nation of the malaise of corruption which has eaten deep into the fabric of the nation. It is also taking place despite the spirited efforts of the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to eradicate the menace of land grabbing in the Centre of Excellence.
Under the specific particulars of the case, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Mudasiru Obasa, is alleged to have abused his office by grabbing a plot of land that is located along the Adekunle Banjo and Sebastian Streets, in Magodo GRA of Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Obasa, who represents Agege Local Government Area in the Lagos State House of Assembly, has allegedly been described as a specialist in land grabbing in Lagos.
A competent source who pleaded anonymity disclosed that Obasa, with the assistance of an alleged tout, Engr. Toyin Omotosho, formerly of the Ministry of Lands, has previously also allegedly cornered almost all of the allocated lands, even with Certificate of Occupancy, but without any structure in Oko Oba Scheme I and II.
However, the current encroachment which has allegedly exposed the Speaker and put him in the eye of the storm now is a plot of land belonging to late Mr Banji Osman Ayoola, who died on August 17, 2008, and which by a bank certificate issued in the High Court of Lagos, dated March 9, 2016, gave ownership to his widow, Mrs Abiola Ayoola, who is now resident in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America. The plot is situated between Adekunle Banjo and Sebastian Streets, in Magodo GRA.
As our investigations revealed, in 2010, Obasa was said to have indicated interest in purchasing the disputed land, with the structure on it, for the sum of N30 million as contained in a Conditional Sale of Land Agreement and which the vendors agreed to sell to him, based on a Mode of Payment, which states that: “(a) an initial deposit of N15 million shall be paid on the date of execution of this agreement; (b) the balance of N15 million shall be paid after the purchaser (Obasa)has taken possession of the property; (c) possession of the property shall be taken by the purchaser within 14 days after the payment of the initial deposit of N15 million; and (d) the purchaser shall pay the remaining balance of N15 million within 14 days after taking possession of the property.”
However, It was learnt that Obasa backed out of the agreement, having allegedly refused to make payment for the land. He was however said to have employed the services of the Permanent Secretary, Mr Shuaheeb Olabode Agoro and the Executive Secretary, Kayode Ogunubi in the Ministry of Lands to get a fake letter of allocation of the said land last year, backdated same to 2012 and decided to take possession of same, without any payment to Mrs Ayoola or the lawyer representing her interest, Tayo Oyetibo and Co. Meanwhile, our reliable source in the Ministry of Land confirms that no copy of the said fake letter of allocation is in the files in the ministry where other genuine letters of allocation in the state are usually kept.
Speaker Obasa was said to have a few days ago stormed the property with the intention of starting construction work, but he was stopped by landlords in the area, who insisted that they knew the owner of the property to be a widow and not the Speaker. Notwithstanding their protest, Obasa stationed men of the Rapid Respond Squad (RRS) and the Lagos State Task Force with a black maria in front of the plot of land to threaten the genuine owners of the land.
It has also been alleged that the Speaker is always in the habit of using the police to harass owners of lands he wants to grab.
Meanwhile, Mrs Ayoola, in faraway USA, was said to be miffed over the Speaker’s impunity and attempt to take ownership of her late husband’s property without any form of agreement and transaction.
It was learnt that when he was briefed on the saga, the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was not only disappointed in the Speaker, but was said to be seriously angry with Obasa over the development. According to a source, he has promised not to fold his arms while the speaker continues to rubbish the legacy the successive governments have left behind.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the plot of land was sold to the late Ayoola, via a sale agreement, dated February 24, 1978, by Chief B. W. Akinmoladun of No 6, Salako Street, Akoka, Lagos.
What is baffling in all of these was why Obasa would take over a property he had declined interest in as far back as 2013. This was contained in a letter written to Mrs Ayoola by Tayo Oyetibo and Co, while responding to a text message allegedly received by Oyetibo, SAN, from Mrs Ayoola over an allegation that Obasa had acquired the property for N70 million.
Oyetibo categorically debunked the acquisition rumour in the said letter when he said, “First, I am not aware of the transaction whereby Mr Obasa acquired the land for N70 million. The only transaction known to me was the one, of which you are also aware, in which Mr. Obasa was to pay N30 million for the property which was never paid.
“The transaction has, according to Engineer Omotosho, been aborted. The circumstances in which the transaction became are also, I believe, well known to you as they stemmed from the disagreement Omotosho had with you on the complaint which he said you laid with your General Overseer, Pastor Oladele against him…He eventually informed us that Mr. Obasa was no longer interested in purchasing the property…He denied ever telling anyone about the acquisition of the land by Mr. Obasa for N70 million.”
Meanwhile, when The Difference got in touch with Musibau Rasak, media aide to Hon Obasa via a phone conversation, he said that it was wrong for anybody to link the Speaker with the land, adding that anyone who wants information on any land in Lagos should approach the Bureau of Lands. Denying that the Speaker had any hand in any land grabbing, Razak said, “That is not possible. Can anyone take possession of a land without paying the owner? That is number one; number two, was he the one that bought it or he inherited it from his family member? People are just saying so many things. The land doesn’t belong to him, and if there is any issue on the said land, the law courts are there and people can go to the courts. The Lands Bureau in Lagos State has allocated lands to their owners, has anyone gone to the Land Bureau to check if the land being talked about was allocated to the Speaker or not? In fact, the Speaker doesn’t own the said land, because the land doesn’t belong to him. So, how can one say he was not interested in a land in 2012, and now he has taken over the land without paying the owner? How can one take over a land without paying? Because he is the Speaker?
“I know you are doing your own part, as a journalist and I am only telling you my own part, on what people can do concerning the matter. I am a practicing journalist and someone brings stories to me, I know who and who to contact. This is a story about land; it is obvious that I will go to the Lands Bureau and discover what has happened to the land before laying claims and saying that the Speaker did this and that. The person complaining now, is he the person that bought or paid for the land? These are questions we should ask ourselves. If you say you bought and paid for land, where were you when someone else came and took over the land?”
Continuing, he argued that anyone could go to the Lands Bureau and know if the land “we are talking about has been allocated to the Speaker. We can’t just come and start writing stories when there is no story in it. I am not saying it’s good to take over any land, but don’t put the Speaker into it, because he has nothing to do with it.”
Also the Public Relations Officer of the Bureau of Lands, Kayode Sutton, while responding , debunked the claim that the Permanent Secretary of the Lands Bureau signed any letter of allocation in this matter. Sutton said, “As the Public Relations Officer of the Lands Bureau, I spoke with the Permanent Secretary extensively to know his involvement in it, and I know that the PS doesn’t sign letter of allocation. Statutorily, it is the responsibility of the executive secretary, Lands Bureau to sign letters of allocation.
“Now, we have the former executive secretary, Kayode Ogunnubi, who just left some weeks ago, he is the one that his name was mentioned. It is the responsibility of the executive secretary so it could have been the executive secretary that signed it.
“If he is the one that signed it, then he has a reason for it, so there should be further investigation on it. So it is confirmed that the PS, Agoro, didn’t sign any letter of allocation. Although I am not officially aware of it, we will have to investigate further on who signed it? Why did he sign it? If it’s right or wrong? If it’s justifiable?”
Asked on how soon he can investigate the matter, he said, “As soon as I get back to the office tomorrow (Wednesday). Right now, the officer in charge of Magodo is not on seat, he is the one to give me the information needed.”
Rt Hon Mudashiru Obasa, Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly