Lagos Floors FG in S’Court over Power to Regulate Property

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The Supreme Court has struck out the bid by the federal government to stop the Lagos State Government from asserting control over landed properties it sold out to individuals and corporate bodies.

Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode
Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode

The apex court held that since the federal government had already sold the properties and divested its interest in them, it could no longer have any interest that could be threatened by any action of the state government.

Delivering ruling in an application brought before it by the Attorney-General of the Federation seeking to stop Lagos State Government from having any control on the sold properties, the Supreme Court held that the federal government can no longer invoke the jurisdiction of this court since it has no standing to do so.

In the lead ruling delivered by Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammed, the Seven-member panel of Justices of the apex court held that the objection of Lagos State to the Federal Government’s suit was accurate and correct on the ground that the federal government no longer has any interest to protect on the properties.

Justice Muhammed agreed with Lagos that the federal government, having transferred its title in the land to others, it was untenable for the same federal government to try to assert that its interest was being adversely threatened by the action of the Lagos State government.

“The plaintiff, who lacks the standing to sue, cannot invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to assert a title it no longer has. It is academic and hypothetical for the court to proceed in a matter it has no jurisdiction,” Justice Muhammed held.

The federal government had, between 1967 till date sold off its landed properties in Lagos State to individuals and corporate bodies

Dispute however arose when Lagos State government directed the buyers of the said properties to regularise the ownership of the properties with the state on the ground that the properties are situate in Lagos.

In reaction to the action of the Lagos State government, the Federal Government, through the AGF had approached the Supreme Court to invoke its original jurisdiction and sought an order that Lagos State government had no right to assert any control over the properties it had sold out.

The Lagos State Government had, in its objection asked the Supreme Court to strike out the application of the federal government on the grounds that, having sold out the properties, it was no longer the appropriate party that could sue on whatever action the state planned to take with the new owners.

The Supreme Court agreed,

The unanimous ruling consequently struck out the application of the federal government in favour of Lagos State.

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