The Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, has revoked the allocation of over 25 plots of land by his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, in his final days in office.
According to reports, the expansive land at Lekki Phase One had been allocated to the Lagos State Water Corporaton in 1998 by the then military administrator of the state, Mohamed Marwa, while the certificate of occupancy was signed by Bola Tinuby, former Governor of Lagos State, in 2006.
However, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, who was the permanent secretary of the Lagos state ministry of Lands under Fashola, had reportedly informed the former Governor that the land was ‘available’.
The land was officially parcelled into 25 plots and shared by Fashola who went on to sign the certificates of occupancy on May 26, three days to his exit from office.
The new allottees were curiously issued the old Certificates of Occupancy which had been phased out by Fashola and replaced with electronic certificates.
Most of the plots, it is alleged, were allocated to Fashola’s relatives, aides and associates – including Yewande Animashaun, his cousin who also served as his special adviser on public health, and Wale Ahmed, who served as his commissioner for special duties. It was also learnt that a female newscaster with a Lagos-based TV station was one of the beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, it was reported that Muri-Okunola did not disclose the actual number of available plots to Fashola and was said to have kept several plots for himself, out of which three were allocated to Adeyemi Isiba, the then general manager of New Towns Development Authority (NTDA), against government regulation.
Nobody is allowed to buy more than one plot in a government scheme but the three plots were registered in Isiba’s name. He has now been removed as GM of NTDA following a series of findings on the activities of the agency under his watch.
As soon as Ambode assumed office, officials of the Water Corporation wrote to him to complain that the land belongs to the agency and that the original Certificate of Occupancy was still valid as it was not voided by Fashola before reallocation,
Ambode was said to have immediately launched an investigation, only to discover that Muri-Okunola had kept some plots for himself with the hope of getting the new Governor to sign off on the Certificates of Occupancy.
Muri-Okunola was immediately sacked by Ambode, but he was prevailed upon by prominent power brokers in Lagos to redeploy the son of the late Muri-Okunola, a former Justice reputed for his integrity.
Ambode later decided to redeploy the 42-year-old Muri-Okunola to the ministry of youth as permanent secretary and the ownership of the land has been reverted to the Water Corporation.
When contacted both Muri-Okunola and Isiba refused to make comments on the Lekki land affair.
It will be recalled that Fashola has been in the public eye in recent times following revelations that he awarded a N78 million contract to set up a website in his name.
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