Reps wade into UNILAG, community land dispute
Hope of peaceful resolution of the land dispute between the authority of University of Lagos (UNILAG) and the neighbouring Iwaya-Abete community, resonated last week with the intervention of the House of Representatives.
The intervention followed a petition by the affected families, addressed to the House Committee on Public Petition.It brought to the negotiation table all parties to the dispute including the management of University of Lagos, represented by its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, representative of the Delfino Anthonio Da Meranda family, Primate Stephen Adedayo Jagun, representative of the Federal Ministry of Works, Housing and Power and other members of the House Committee.
Chairman, House Committee on Legislative Compliance, Olasupo Abiodun, who led other members to the parley, said his office would ensure compliance to resolution of land boundary dispute between UNILAG and the neighbouring communities. Abiodun, who is representing Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Kajola/Iwajowa Federal constituency in Osun State in the house, explained that the visit was to ensure compliance to resolution of the House arising from the boundary disputes between the feuding parties.
After the brief meeting, the lawmakers, who included Segun Ogunwuyi, Shadimu Mutiu, Olufemi Olasunmbo, Deputy Director of Land and a Surveyor from Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing and delegation from UNILAG were conducted round the disputed areas to determine the coordinate and the existing lines on the land.
Speaking further Abiodun said, ‘as a review committee established to ensure compliance, we are here to abide by the resolution of the House Committee which stated that the University of Lagos should not exceed the limit of the land as stated in the 1962 Gazette that was given after the acquisition of land for the purpose of establishing an institution called University of Lagos.
“We have invited all parties to the land like UNILAG, the Delfino Anthonio Da Meranda family, Federal Ministry of works, Power and Housing, Ministry of Justice and Federal Ministry of Education for them to come. We were told that UNILAG, as represented by Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, and Deputy Director of Land, Bob Isika, that they have actually not gone beyond the 1962 Gazette.
“It is a matter of law and UNILAG is a creation of law and the law that created the institution acquired a parcel of land that was gazette as far back as 1962 for it to operate. The Gazette and the coordinate still exist and it is just for us to look into the matter. We have not invited private surveyor, either from the university nor the family.
“We are using a surveyor from the Federal works and Housing to determine this simple job for the committee,” he added.
On payment of compensation, he acknowledged recorded evidence that some affected families are yet to be paid compensation for the land acquired for the establishment of the university since 1962.
“1962 is a long period of time you will agree with me. There are empirical ways of going about the dispute. UNILAG does not have money to pay and it is not a money-making venture. Our duty as lawmakers is to appropriate and confirm that families whose lands were acquired for the establishment of the University have not been compensated.“Amount of compensation will be determined as adviced by chairman House Committee and the Federal Ministry Of Works, Power and Housing.”
We will now include it in the budget for Mr. President and when it is approved it becomes law and the families will receive their money and that is our words to them”, he added.Also, the representative of the Delfino Anthonio De Meranda family, Primate Stephen Jagun stressed the need for peaceful resolution of the dispute through a common agreement.He also alleged intimidation of the community by military men.
In his response to alleged intimidation of residents by armed soldiers, Prof. Ogundipe explained that the military presence had nothing to with the disputes but for the contract awarded to Army Engineering Corps for perimeter fencing of the part of the land that belonged to the institution.
He recalled that the institution paid compensation to a family in 2013, saying that the lawmakers in conjunction with the officials of the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing were on the land to assess the matter with a view to passing their findings and recommendations to the Federal Government for appropriation.
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