Lagos set to seize 100 properties sold illegally to buyers

The Lagos State Government is set to seize 100 of its properties sold illegally to buyers in the state without due process being followed.

This is part of the implementation of a far-reaching report on the sale of government assets deemed to be out-rightly illegal or which might have short-changed the government and people of the State.

The report is said to contain a list of over 100 properties, the names of their buyers and the locations of the assets.

Sources said the report was after extensive work over several months by a high powered panel of inquiry set up in late 2016 by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to “investigate the sale of its assets in prime areas running into billions of Naira.”

A source who craved anonymity disclosed that due to the sensitivity of the issue, the state government had decided to investigate the sale of its assets because they were sold below market value.

The source added that the colossal amount of funds involved runs into billions of Naira, which the state government lost in revenue due to the unacceptable process by which the sales were conducted.

“The affected assets are located in high-profile areas, where decision-makers, captains of industries, top government functionaries and political actors among others often crave to build their homes and offices.”

A top government source identified the high-profile areas to include Ikeja GRA, Magodo, Ikoyi, Lekki and other prime locations, where government assets were sold below the market value, adding that the assets were disposed at abysmal (or give-away) prices and obviously against public interest, which stoked the interest of the present administration to investigate and review the process by which the assets were sold.

Aside the sale of the affected assets below the market value, it was also gathered that the government assets, did not follow due process and standard procedure of sale.

A government source revealed that what eventually culminated in the resolve of the State government to investigate the sale of its assets was overriding public interest, lamenting that some of these assets “were sold as low as N20 million.”

The source explained that the government and people of Lagos State have been short-changed considering the abysmal prices the assets were sold.

“Generally, we have a situation where government properties in prime locations were sold at give-away prices. The assets were abysmally under-valued. Besides, the assets were sold below the actual market value”.

The source added that no serious government would allow such sales against public interest to stand. “I do not think these sales can stand. This is why the State government decided to set up a Panel of Inquiry to look into the sale of those assets.”

It was further gathered the report had indeed been submitted and implementation had begun with review of sales of properties that were sold grossly under market value.

In one of the test cases under review, it was discovered that two wings of a 5 bedroom semi detached house located around Ikeja GRA valued at hundreds of millions of Naira was in 2010 offered to a certain Funmi Smith of Debam Mega Solutions Limited for a sum far less than half of the value, but seven years after the offer barely half of the offered sum has been paid to the State Government coffers by the Company.

It was reliably gathered that as part of the report’s recommendations, the State Government has been advised to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to unravel several other transactions that have been identified by the panel of inquiry.

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