Supreme Court Dismisses FG’s Suit Challenging Lagos Land Regularization Policy

Supreme Court Complex, Abuja

The Supreme in Abuja on Friday dismissed a suit filed by the Federal Government challenging the Land Regularisation Policy of the Lagos State Government.

A seven-man panel of the apex court, in a ruling, upheld the preliminary objection filed by the State Government to contest the legality of the suit.

By the policy, the State Government had specified the process of ratifying the title of holders of Certificates of Occupancy said to have been obtained from the Federal Government.

But the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) represented by Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), had in a suit with reference number SC/50/ 2011, invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to challenge provisions of the policy.

While arguing the case, Agbakoba had cited particular properties where title holders were required by Lagos State to pay certain amount as “Ratification” of their title before any other transactions can be permitted on such land.

But by way of a preliminary objection, the State Government raised objection to the effect that the Supreme Court could not exercise original jurisdiction in the matter, reason being that the subject matter was a land matter within the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court.

The office of the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, also argued that the AGF lacked the locus to file the action on behalf of the Federation against the State Government on account of the fact that the matter in dispute was between Federal Government and the Lagos State Government.

The arguments of the State was said to have been based on a recent judgment of the Supreme Court  delivered in 2014 where the apex court held that disputes between a State Government and the Federal Government cannot be arrogated to the Federation of Nigeria in order to cloak the Supreme Court with Jurisdiction to hear same.

After considering arguments for and against the suit, the Supreme Court in its ruling delivered by Justice Clara Ogunbiyi held that although it did not agree that it could not entertain the matter in its original jurisdiction, but from available evidence, the Federal Government had divested itself of the titles to properties which were subject of the suit and therefore had no locus to bring the action.

The preliminary objection of the State Government was therefore upheld and the suit dismissed.

By the decision, the Supreme Court has now laid the dispute to final rest.

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