Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu 1, has vowed to sue the Lagos State Government if the injustice meted on landowners in the development of the multi-billion dollar Eko Atlantic City project repeated itself again.
Akiolu, who spoke at a stakeholder’s meeting in Alausa, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Thursday said he would always say the truth and would not mind whose ox is gored, saying that there was serious injustice to landowners in the development of the project.
According to him, if such injustice that occurred in the conception of Eko Atlantic City should occur again in the development of future projects of such magnitude, he would go to court to challenge the government.
The monarch said he was displeased with what the Lagos State Government did with the Eko Atlantic City as landowners did not benefit from the project, adding that government must learn to carry the host community along in developing projects of such magnitude that involved multi-nationals.
He said even in places like Holland, the interest of land owners was always taken into consideration, saying what the state government did was simply unfair.
Akiolu said further that whatever considerations the government and land owners would give to multinationals on land matters must also be informed by the interest of the resident community, adding that the “deeds” of the State government at Eko Atlantic City would never repeat itself again.
According to the promoters of the new city, the city will seat on 10 million square metres of land reclaimed from the ocean and protected by an 8.5 kilometre long sea wall. “Eko Atlantic will be the size of Manhattan’s skyscraper district. Self-sufficient and sustainable, it includes state-of-the-art urban design, its own power, clean water, advanced telecommunications, spacious roads and 110,000 trees.
Akiolu also lashed out on illegal activities of land grabbers and dredgers in the State, threatening that perpetrators are now liable to jail terms, saying that their activities had been reported to the State Government and authorities at the Federal level for proper punishment.
The monarch said that the era of impunity on Lagos lands and offshore would no longer be acceptable. He said though the lands and water resources were traditional rights of the inhabitants and “the Obas and chief can derive benefits from the God given resources.”
“They should go to the appropriate authorities and learn how to do it. It is their land and they are entitled to its benefits. Even my own relation, I have called him and warned him. I have taken the matter up to the Federal Government that they should drive all of them from that place (Ajah-Badore shores).
“I say it and I stand by it; let the heavens fall and I’m prepared to face any consequence. There is a road alignment in Eti-Osa, which some criminal-minded persons have been selling. They will be dealt with and if care is not taken, they will go to prison. That is very certain,” he added.
At the event, Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Adebowale Akinsanya, said that it had become so urgent for the State government to do all that is humanly possible to arrest the Lagos fragile coastline and its attendant environmental challenges.
According to him, having reviewed the activities of dredgers in the State, the government had decided to suspend all dredging, put on hold all issuance of licenses till all new conditions and registration were met.
The commissioner stated that government had also prohibited dredging activities in some areas of the State, so as to allow for regeneration and reassessment in such areas, saying that Chinese technology would also be phased out within the next two years unless there is an upgrade and redesign of the current system.
He added that “If you are operating in the Lagos State body of water currently, it is illegal and all dredging operations shall cease till the Lagos State government and the Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) issues new licenses.”