As the burden of planned eviction from the Federal Government keeps giving the over 700 occupants of Lagos Transit Village, Victoria Island sleepless nights, the residents in the government property are calling for due process over the move.
They are also appealing to President Goodluck Jonthan to intervene in the matter and save their families from untold hardship anticipated in the event of the eviction. Their call came amidst growing concern among dwellers over the manner the government has been handling the proposed taking over of the property.
Transit Village, on Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, was built over 30 years ago. It was introduced as model of decent and affordable housing that can stand the test of time. In 1991, the then Minister of Works & Housing, Major General M.T. Kontagora added 9 additional 3-bedroom bungalows, making 109 units in all. Although, the name suggests impermanence, housing estate was however, said not to be designed as a temporary accommodation, being allegedly said to be replicated rapidly liki Council Flats in developed nations.
Already, there is an allegation that the government had concluded plan to forcefully eject these tenants, who are civil servants, from the village, come next week Monday.
The planned ejection, according to sources was to create room for the alleged buyers of the vast property, to take possession and rebuild same as being taunted.
The development led to a paid advertorial in a national daily two days ago. The advertorial, signed by their counsel, Mr. Femi Falana, urged the Attorney General of the Federation to use his good offices to call the Federal Ministry of Housing to order in order to prevent it from exposing the Federal Government to ridicule.
Falana, also pointed government’s attention to a subsisting court’s stand for parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Referring to a suit no FHC/L/CS/334/2010 (Mallam Isyaku Ibrahim & Ors V The Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development & Ors, Falana said: “By a writ of summons dated 17th March 2010, our clients instituted the above mentioned suit wherein they are challenging the purported sale of Transit Village … to UACN Property Development Company Plc and Bank of Industry by the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
In the said suit, our clients who are over 700 civil servants prayed the honorable court for an order of interlocutory injunction to restrain the defendants and/or their agents or privies from forcefully ejecting them from the property pending the determination of the matter.
On February 24, 2011, the honorable High Court made a specific order directing parties to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit, which has been adjourned to the 9th day of August 2011 for trial.
To our client’s utter consternation, they received a letter dated 13th July 2011 with reference No PS/FMHUD/PBDC/083/VOL. 11/92 inviting them to a stakeholders’ meeting on Tuesday 19th July 2011 at the Federal Ministry of Lands, Lagos.
The said meeting was chaired by one Alhaji Abubakar Salehh, a director of Finance/Account in the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and one Mrs. Bose Bakare, a director of legal services seconded from the Federal Ministry of Justice, who informed our clients that they have the firm instruction of President Goodluck Jonathan to evict our clients and demolish the entire transit village on the 1st of August 2011 regardless of the order of the Federal High Court.”
Falana said they “are convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that the President, as a firm believer in the rule of law, could not have authorized the brazen violation of a valid and subsisting order of a competent court of law in Nigeria” and “in the foregoing, we urge the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation to use his good offices to call the Federal Ministry of Housing to order in order to prevent it from exposing the Federal Government to ridicule”
Besides, the embattled occupants have since the commencement of the taking over bid been seeking interventions from well meaning Nigerians to use their good offices appeal to the government to keep to its promised of giving them the first option to purchase the houses, but at the price of highest bidder.
This offer, according to the civil servants has not been extended to them, thereby violating an earlier government order.
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Source: The Guardian