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Dispute: Lands officer gives testimony in court

*Further hearing adjourned till 17th October

As the dispute over the 404.76 hectares of land between some families in Ibadan and the government of Oyo State continued in court Tuesday, the first defence witness, Olufisayo Ogunbiyi, a senior Land Officer in the state Civil service told the court that apart from ‘Exhibit F’ there was no other letter written to the Federal Government in respect of the disputed land.

The said ‘Exhibit F’ was the letter written by Stad Properties Nigeria Ltd requesting for the release of the land to the owner families, who instituted the court case against the government of Oyo State.

Ogunbiyi, who said this under cross-examination by the leading counsel to the claimants (land owner families), Barrister Olayinka Abiose further stated that he was not aware that Oyo State government wrote any other letter to the Federal Government requesting for the same land under dispute.

He however disclosed that he was aware that the state government had released 20 acres to four of the owner families out of the disputed land before litigation began on it, adding that his ministry was not contacted by the owner families before the agitation began for the release of the entire 404.76 hectares of land to them.

The defence witness further attested to the fact that the Federal Government directed the government of Oyo State through a letter marked ‘Exhibit M’, copies of which were made to Stad Properties Nigeria Ltd and the Secretary to the original owners that the land under dispute be released to the original owners.

When asked about the level of compliance of the state government with the FG directive, Ogunbiyi stated that there was a partial compliance by the release of about 100 acres of the land to High Chief Eddy Oyewole, claiming to be the representative of some of the owner families.

He equally submitted that Oyo State government had acquired another portion of the land for Housing Estate under Public, Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement and that the portion so acquired had been gazetted.

The defence witness admitted that there was no monetary compensation to the owner families for the portion acquired by the state government, stressing that the portion released to the owner families through High Chief Oyewole, whose true membership of the owner families he could not authenticate was the government compensation for the acquired portion.

It would be recalled that the refusal of the state government to obey the directive of the Federal Government on the release of the land to the owner families led to the institution of the case by the owner families against the state government in a suit before Justice Adegboye Gbolagunte of the Oyo State High Court, MKO Abiola Way (former Ring Road), Ibadan since 2013 and the case was Tuesday adjourned till 17th October this year for further hearing.

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