A large expanse of land measuring over 23 hectares located at Odo-Nikin, Alasia in Eti-Osa local government area of Lagos State is currently the subject matter of a protracted legal battle between a property development firm, Cosmopolitan Properties Ltd and the ancestral owners of the land.
While Cosmopolitan properties claims its ownership of the contentious land is drive from a genuine purchase through a court aunction process, the ancestral land owners represented by the Fatimot Susan Ope family insist their property was illegally acquired through a global acquisition.
From police arrest of actors on both sides, to criminal trial over malicious damage, petitions and counter-petitions and civil suits, the battle over the land has been on all fronts.
In a recent petition through a human rights advocacy group, Know Your Right, to some relevant authorities seeking for urgent intervention, Cosmopolitan properties accused a prominent member of the Fatimot Susan Ope family, Oba Kazeem Salami of intimidation, harassment and damage to their property.
Insisting on its ownership of the property, the company noted that the Governor of Lagos State had, by a global acquisition, acquired all the land along the Lagos/Epe Expressway including the land in dispute.
According to the company, sometime in 1993, through a transfer of interest by the state High Court, it acquired part of the land initially allocated by the Lagos State government to Happy Land Happy World Nigeria Ltd, for tourism.
The company further maintained that it has been in peaceful possession of the land for over a decade until recently when some persons who claimed to be original land owners started to trespass on the land.
Upon its complaint to the state government, the company noted that some illegal structures on the property were demolished and a perimeter fence erected to further secure the land.
It further claimed that some of the original land owners continued to encroach on the land leading to their arrest and prosecution in court. But reacting to the ownership claims by Cosmopolitan Properties, a member of Fatimot Sosan Ope family, Oba Kazeem Salami noted that at no time did his family relinquish their original title to Lagos state government.
He referred our reporter to a suit filed by himself and other members of his family in 2017 against the Governor of Lagos State and twelve other defendants challenging the revocation of their land title.
Oba Kazeem noted that despite the suit in court, the owner of Cosmopolitan Properties, has been using police to harass, intimidate and file trump up charges against him.
The traditional ruler wondered why the company was not willing to wait for the outcome of the suit but rather resorted to harassment and frivolous petitions against him and members of his family.
He insisted that the Fatimot Susan Ope family remain the legal owners of the disputed property and expressed optimism that the court would uphold their legal right to the vast expanse of land.