Lagos State Government has been accused of taking laws into its hands by grabbing people’s lands and disobeying Court orders fla with reckless abandonment. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Topaz Gardens is a victim with severable of his acres of land forcefully collected by the government and sold to private individuals. He spoke with Okosun Dennis recently on such illegality and government’s knack for disrespecting of court orders and the difficulty in accessing mortgage. Excerpts:
Nationalwire: You are the Managing Director of Millencoast and Topaz Gardens and Properties, how have you faired in Real Estate business?
MD: My name is Adebare Murphy and I’m a Real Estate developer and the Managing Director of Millencoast and Topaz Gardens. It has been almost 12 years that we started our Real Estate business and we have been trying to develop Lagos and Abuja. That’s what we have been doing for many years and have achieved a lot.
Nationalwire: Basically, where are you today?
MD: We have done a lot of development; and have built houses and roads. we are also into construction and dredging. In these aspects too, we have gone far. Particularly, we have built a lot of housing schemes and have done a lot of jobs with a lot people; companies in the past 12 years.
In the area of housing units, we have done about five to seven housing units or schemes. These have been completed and are functional. Not only in Lagos state and Abuja we have done these but have gone inroad tremendously into the country, Nigeria and West Africa.
Nationalwire: Looking at the environment, can you compare other countries with Nigeria?
MD: Actually, with what we have done in South Africa, I think South Africa government is really trying because they are helping Real Estate unlike us thay develop ourselves so that we can provide homes to the people especially in Nigeria. As it is now, we will get there because there’s no such facilities for us in Nigeria. You practically have to struggle on your own to make it through in this business. You have to on your own, access credit facility; get your own money, capital to start and carry out sundry operation. We are looking to the government or Mortgage bank to give us a mortgage loans so we can also work together and grow the Real Estate business. Unfortunately, their mortgage loans is not for people like us. The interest rate is very high and the condition for accessing such loans are too cumbersome. Their demands in terms of collaterals could shut you out of business. That is why we are not able to get access to it but we thank God because we are really pushing despite the fact business is slow coupled with harsh economic realities. So far, we are doing great!
Nationalwire: Why is it difficult to access these loans?
MD: You cannot access Nigeria mortgage loans because it depends on people you know before they can give you mortgage. When Nigerian government tells you they will give you mortgage, they are just trying to deceive the public. Ask any Real Estate owners or developers how many of them the Federal Government has given mortgage? They are just trying to deceive the public. A common man cannot have mortgage in Nigeria. It’s not possible.
Nationalwire: What about Lagos State?
MD: Not really! It’s just that Lagos state is not helping matters for people like us. It is worrisome why Lagos state is not helping matters and in the forefront assisting Real Estate developers? Despite that we are helping the Lagos state government to develop its city into its Mega City status, the only compliment we get from them at the end of the day is for the same government to grab our land with different kinds of excuses.
Nationalwire: Has the Lagos State Government grabbed your land as alleged?
MD: Yes, they have. As I speak to you, my heart is bleeding due to the losses I have suffered from lands grabbed from me by the Lagos State Government.
Nationalwire: Where exactly are these lands?
MD: They grabbed my land at Sangotedo in Etiosa Local government area; they grabbed my land at Eleko in Ibeju-Lekki. They are busy grabbing land from people especially the present administration. They grab your lands and sell it again. Do Government has the right to sell people’s land? No, they don’t. It’s only in Lagos state that one sees government selling lands and even grabbing people’s lands. The present administration is the worst administration I have ever seen in the state. They habitually take people’s lands, rendering them homeless.
Nationalwire: What are their excuses?
MD: They have a lot of excuses. You know that when a thief wants to steal your things, they will definitely fine-tune their operation. The government brings such excuses to grab your land and what they normally do or use is that they tell you that you don’t have a document even when you do. These same government will revoke your documents unknown to you and give to another person. One of the excuses is that they will say they want to use it for public use and that’s the main trick that Lagos state government use. At the end of the day, they will start selling the land to individuals after revoking it.
Nationalwire: What measures have you taken to seek redress and get justice?
MD: We are already in court. Unfortunately, Lagos state does not obey the court of law. Go and ask anybody, Lagos state does not obey the law, they are the ones that make the Law and they are the ones that break it; that’s the painful truth. What Lagos state is doing, they are inviting what happened in Arab world to Lagos because you can’t imagine, you’re condemning cultism when the family are homeless. What do you expect the children to do? That is not to say I am supporting cultism at all. However, when you say “No to Cultism” some hapless people would resort to all manner of illegality to express their angst and anger. This government has rendered families homeless in Oreki in Eleko at Ibeju-Lekki and you condemn people resorting to self help! If someone that is homeless with lots of children, what are you expecting from them, we should all think about it?
Nationalwire: What is your advise?
MD: My advice to the government is to repent because most of them have sold their hearts to the devil because of the love of money. Can you imagine, the present Governor, who is close to 60 years old would still be aligning himself with these kind of things? What else does such a person want to use money for? At the age 55 going to 60 years, what kind of food does he want to eat again? Is it Goat meat or what that you want you cannot access? Why would you still partake in this kind of evil? Don’t do something bad in the presence of your children because the more you do something evil in their presence, your children will never know that it’s evil. That’s what is really happening. Let me tell something, as indigenous Lagosians, we are going to stop them. We wouldn’t resort to violence, never but we will stop them using the same law they made. I have never imagined that somebody in this 21st century will not obey the court of law. How can the government destroy houses without a court order? Isn’t that an invitation for trouble? A house human beings are living!
Nationalwire: Which places are worst hit?
MD: This present administration has destroyed over 20 locations. From Lekki town to Epe, they have destroyed places in Oniru side. The matter is in court. They destroyed Jakande, they are still in court; they destroyed Okun-Ajah and they are still in court. They destroyed my own land in Sangotedo, we are still in court, they destroyed Oreki Lekki, we are still in court too. Lagosians and Nigerians as a whole should he careful about some companies that the government is reselling people’s land to. They destroyed people’s lands in Eleko and sold it to Gracias Homes, Real Estate Delight companies. They sold it to other Real Estate in Eleko, they are presently working on the land.
Nationalwire: Why not resort to Court to stop them?
MD: They had court injunction to stop them but they did not abide by the law and disobeyed court. They grab your land and position policemen there. Go to my land at Sangotedo, you will still see policemen there. How can a government be this evil? How can they position policemen that are supposed to be fighting for the right of the people? You corrupt the Nigeria Police Force and you turn around to say the Nigerian Police is corrupt. You position them on lands that you grab from people who bought their land legitimately and make them to protect the criminals. How can Gov. Sanwo-Olu provide police for criminals? It’s sad! Our problem is that we don’t follow due process; our problem in Nigeria is that everybody believes that government is bigger than everything but I’m telling you now that most Nigerians are not proactive by resorting to legal process to seek for justice. If government grabs your land, what you need to do is take them to court. Unfortunately, many people don’t believe that you can win government but I will give you one hope, which is, there is no court case that Lagos State concerning land that they have taken to court that they have won since 2000. I’m telling you because they are criminals and that’s why I’m telling my fellow Nigerians to take them to court and follow the court process to the last conclusions. Lagos state have never won any land case in case you don’t know. Lagos state must give back my land. I acquire it legitimately, legally and have documents from the government to support it.