Thirty-two years after the Akingbaiye family and 23 others took the Lagos State Government to court, the Supreme Court has affirmed the 1958 Lagos State acquisition of land along Ilasamaja/Oshodi Expressway now Isolo Industrial Estate and Matori Estate.
The government of Western Region had in 1958 acquired a vast area of land measuring 5000 acres for public purposes within Badagry, Ikeja and Lagos.After the creation of Lagos State, the area of land, which fell within the state, was 929.6 acres.
However, in 1979, 34 persons who were affected by the acquisition approached the Lagos State Lands Tribunal for the purpose of determining the compensation payable to them for the acquisition of their land.
The tribunal, in its judgment, had awarded the sum of N1, 141, 631. 20 as compensation for the 929.6 acres.Dissatisfied with the decision of the tribunal and failure of Lagos to immediately pay the compensation, the Akingbaiye family and 23 others (appellants) on December 27, 1985 filed an originating summons at the Lagos High Court against the then Military Governor of Lagos State and the Attorney General of the state claiming payment of interest on the judgment sum.
The court entered judgment for the appellants but they were dissatisfied on the issue of interest and consequently filed an appeal, which in 2002 was dismissed while the appellants approached the Supreme Court.
The appellants represented by L.A.O Nylander filed their brief on May 31, 2016, while the State’s brief was filed on June 28, 2016. Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, contended that the High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter in view of the provisions of Section 16 of the Public Lands Acquisition (Miscellaneous Provision) Act of 1976 which confers exclusive jurisdiction on the Lands Tribunal to decide issues in respect of compensation payable on lands acquired by the government.
After considering submissions, the Supreme Court held that the decisions of the High Court of Lagos and the Court of Appeal were null and void in view of the fact that the two courts lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter, adding that something placed on nothing is bound to fall.
By the judgment, the Lagos State acquisition of the land in question is further affirmed and the appellants’ claim for interest since 1979 in respect of the compensation was dismissed.The state is also not liable to pay interest on the amount already paid to the appellants as compensation.