Error from applicants affecting our 60-day C of O policy —Abdu-Raheem, Oyo Lands Commissioner

April 1, 2021
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Oyo Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Barrister Abiodun Abdu-Raheem, while featuring on a radio programme of an Ibadan-based station, addressed various land related matters in the state. WALE AKINSELURE monitored the programme and brings excerpts.

RECENTLY, the Oyo State government notified residents of plans to allocate some Government Reserved Areas (GRAs). Where do things stand regarding these proposed GRAs?

We met some GRAs that are existing but they are really problematic. We had a lot of double allocation. Some had got their own C of O over their own allocation only to discover that there had been some existing ones. The governor gave the directive that we should give some GRAs that will stand the test of time because our primary problem is lack of infrastructure. We zeroed down on Senator Rashidi Ladoja GRA. There are other GRAs coming on board. Rashidi Ladoja GRA is on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway; we have over 500 plots that we have prepared and it will go for 1,000 square kilometers per plot of land. We have also fixed the price because we plan to have a lot of befitting infrastructure there.

We also have late Lere Adigun GRA at Bashorun. We will flag off both GRAs, once we get the approval of the governor in a matter of weeks. We want to put some finishing touches because he will not flag off except everything is in place. When you look at the quality of the infrastructure that will be put there, you will believe that the price is very cheap, very reasonable and affordable. The governor is concerned about ensuring that the public is well served.

While the state government intends to flag off Rashidi Ladoja or Lere Adigun estates, what happens to those that have paid for allocations in exiting GRAs but government has not been able to develop those places? There are those paid for at Elenusonso, Jericho, Adeoyo among others, and government is a continuum.

When we talk about payments, we should be sure of what we are talking about. Some people merely obtained forms; some people got allocations as well. The issues we have are that: there were no infrastructures in those GRAs; we have the problem of encroachment; we also have litigations on almost all those places. Government is a continuum but we need to tidy things in the affairs of the state. A situation whereby we met those things in a very unpackaged manner really gave us a lot of problems. What we have to do is that the little we have on these GRA allocations, we have to gather them together and make provision for the necessary infrastructures there. The provision of infrastructure in GRA, before we came in, was that they have some development levy and this money is in a particular account which we will soon disburse to make some sort of provision of infrastructure in these GRAs.

Meanwhile, I can mention some GRAs where we have problems of encroachments. We have people who claim to be land owners and you find out issues of compensation not given to the land owners before they fashioned out those GRAs.

Some were asked to pay N1.5 million to get allocation for the new Rashidi Ladoja GRA, have you began giving out those allocations?

We noticed that people because of their political affiliations filled a form for N10,000 and they are given allocation and nothing will be paid. So, we want to be sure that the person we will be giving a portion of land is really interested in getting that land and ready to pay for it. We now ask the person to pay N1.5 million as expression of interest. If the person pays, it means the person is serious and we allocate land to that person and we know it won’t take much time for the person to pay the balance.

We learnt that there is also a problem of acquisition for some who built houses at Idi-Osan, Olodo area of Ibadan. What will be the fate of such people?

The land is under the Housing Corporation. The problem is that there has been some acquisition for the purpose of housing estates. Some people equally went to buy lands from the wrong people and are now asking government to accommodate them in the GRA whereas that portion has been allocated to someone else. So, you want us to legalise your illegality. But, because this government has the people’s feeling in its heart, we now asked people to move a little bit here and there and then we regularise the whole process.

Recently, the Oyo state government circulated letters containing land use charges. However, house owners have questioned the rationale behind the charges, which some have regarded as exorbitant.

Land use charge is not an innovation of today. We are perfecting the process in such a way that it will be so clear to everybody. You will recall that the Land Use charge law was made in 2012. There have been some attempts to put this in place but they have been having some problems. Someone that stays in Oluyole cannot pay the same amount as someone that stays in Ijio. And we look at the property, the land mass together with the structure on the land before we give you the amount you have to pay. And we give people another vehicle of opportunity that if you feel you are not well charged, you can come forward to our office and lodge complaints at the Land Use department. We did everything possible to ensure that the Land use charge is adequate.

Some agents have started going out to shut down businesses failing to pay land use charge. Are those persons or agents operating on the order of your ministry?

Towards the end of last year, we did enumeration and gave people bill to pay and you refuse to pay at a particular time given to you, you cannot continue not to pay. We give people window of opportunity. When you are given the bill to pay, we give you 30 days to pay the money at a discounted rate. We have done enumeration and have details of houses so people cannot deny the extent of their house.

Developers are everywhere advertising lands and landed properties. What is your ministry doing to sanitise and drive away unscrupulous developers who may be out to dupe unsuspecting residents?

We try to ensure that no one comes into Oyo State to mess with the people. In a matter of time, now that COVID-19 is subsiding, we will be meeting with the developers and roll out our marching order. We tell people that whenever they get information about developers, they should come to us and we will tell them the truth about it. People should be conscious of their actions especially when they are told to come with amounts like N5,000 to get a land plus ram, rice and others.

Government promised electronic C of O in 60 days, but there are complaints by many applicants that government is still saying it is being processed and not ready.

Really, we promised 60 days for the electronic C of O, particularly homeowners’ charter that we are giving people at a subsidised rate. You will recall that the first three to four sets of people that obtained their electronic C of O got them within a period of 45 days. We wanted to keep it up like that. But most of the problems we have are related to the applicants themselves. What we noticed was that there was influx of people who knew quite clearly that their C of O will never be granted. Some of those applications fall under acquisition and want to use the backdoor to get C of O on it. Some are in floodplain areas. We have told them from the word go that people with problems should not approach us because we have to go and inspect such places. Some now tell us that since it has been discovered that their land falls under acquisition, they are asking for a refund. These are the people who go around saying that we have not been able to reach them. Some surveys are problematic and have coordinate errors. You cannot believe that that, such surveys relate to those lands. Once a surveyor prepares a survey, you cannot make any amendment to that survey except by that surveyor.

So we need to ask that surveyor to make the amendment and if they don’t come, we write the applicant to give us authority to prepare another survey. There is a particular registered surveyor who prepared survey in respect of his own application and got it wrong himself. This is a person that will say he has applied and has not got C of O.

Last December, we had a lot of people come forward beyond what we could control. The issue is that we call people for inspection and they say they are outside Ibadan asking for time and that they are not available for inspection; some will not pick our calls. People will not tell you the true situation. The policy of getting C of O within 60 days still stands except for human error from the applicants themselves. We have the facilities, personnel and we are ready to work. Those that have complaints should personally let me know.

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