There is a legal concept here in the United States called “eminent domain.” Under this legal doctrine, the government has the legal right to take private land for public use. The right is enunciated both in Federal and state constitutions, among other applicable laws. The critical part is that when they do so, they must provide fair compensation. The process of acquiring private land for public use is called “condemnation.” In addition, assuming the owner of the home is made an offer from the government that he/she refuses because he/she believes the house is worth more, such person is entitled to a “condemnation proceeding” to state their grievances.
Usually when the government takes your home for public use, it is because they really need it to keep up with the needs/demand of a growing population.
I do not know the eminent domain laws of Lagos State or Nigeria as a whole. However, I received the press release below and thought it quite interesting. I’d be curious to hear from either the attorney involved here or other colleagues practicing in Lagos State about the eminent domain laws over there. Based on the release, it appears the laws there provide for basic due process rights including notice, which it is alleged was not adhered to in this case.
Read the release below:
“The residents of 13 Surulere Aletor close, Oke Alo, Gbagada Estate faced a devastating situation as they met a rubble on the site where their house used to be, at the late hours of yesterday.
According to reports, the Lagos State Ministry of Environment carried out a demolition exercise without giving the slightest prior notice to the owners. Without a doubt, all belongings including the Television set, furniture, gas cooker and more was still inside the house as no one was at the house to give a stop. The act was executed in the afternoon. It was confirmed that four other buildings were affected also.
The demolished house was built about four years ago by Barrister Bunmi Fafowora. Her intention now is to sue the Lagos State Government. (In her words) “Where was the government when I got a Certificate of
Occupancy (C of O)? Where were they when I built the house? After loads of millions spent on this house. We will be filing a law suit against them and let’s see how this plays out. After 35years at the
bar is it a crime to be the owner of my own house?”
Her first son Seun, a graduate from University Of Lagos has this to say, “I think this is very callous especially when you haven’t made any alternative arrangements for the parties involved. This government has lost human feelings. I’m very disappointed in a government I voted for with so much expectation. This is lawlessness in action as far as I am concerned.”
This family went to work and school, came home late last night after a long day to find no home.
“This is so insensitive of a government. Sometimes I wonder if this is truly a democracy”, says Barrister Fafowora.