Senate asks Army to quit contentious land in Apapa

The Senate on Friday asked the Nigerian Army to vacate a large expanse of land currently being occupied by its Signals Barracks in the Apapa area of Lagos state.

The Senate’s directive came from its Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions’ Committee, while ruling on the matter brought before it by the law firm of Messrs Muiz Banire & Associates on behalf of Kazuma Shipping Company Limited.

The chairman of the Committee, Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo Central), ruled that the contentious 20.652 hectares of land rightly belonged to the Kazuma Shipping Company Limited, based in Lagos.

A copy of the petition signed by Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), and dated November 21, 2021, was made available to journalists by the panel.

In the petition, Banire explained that the land was originally owned by the family of the late John Saint-Matthew Daniels, from whom the Kazuma Shipping Company Limited bought it in 2002.

He alleged that the Nigerian Army encroached on it despite the fact that it was outside their barracks.

He said the owners of the land commenced a series of litigations against the Nigerian Army and got favourable judgments at the High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court.

Banire said, “After the judgment, officers of the Nigerian Army began to trespass on the land by depriving the original owners access to the large expanse of land on the pretext that the said land belonged to the Nigerian Army.

“Upon a petition to the relevant authorities by our client’s predecessors and in compliance with the said judgment, the Chief of Army Staff vide reference No. NA/412/A, dated April 3, 2002, directed the Commandant of the Nigerian Army Signal, Arakan Barracks, Apapa, Maj.-Gen. S.E. Asemota, to formally hand over the parcel of land back to our client’s predecessors-in-title.”

Banire further explained that the Daniel’s family formally sold the land to the Kazuma Shipping Company Limited after the handover in 2002, adding that the company spent N400 million to sand-fill the land after purchasing it between 2002 and 2009.

The chairman of the panel, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, therefore, ruled that the Nigerian Army should vacate the land “immediately.”