The Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has inaugurated a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to undertake a comprehensive review, analysis, and investigation of land allocation, documentation and general land dealings in the State for the past eleven years.
This was revealed in a statement issued by the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, in Abeokuta on Thursday.
The statement said the inauguration of the eight-member Commission was done on Wednesday evening.
According to the statement, the Commission, headed by Justice S. A. Olugbemi (retd) as Chairman, has three months, in the first instance, to carry out its assignment.
The other members of the Commission are a legal practitioner, Adetunji Onabowo; a former Commissioner of Police, CP Edward Awolowo Ajogun; Chairman, Ethics Committee, Nigerian Institution of Surveyors, Oyebanji Akinhanmi; an estate valuer, Toyin Aluko; and a representative of the Department of State Services.
Speaking at the inauguration, the governor emphasised the important role of land in the economic development of any nation.
Abiodun highlighted its mandates to include unraveling the circumstances surrounding rampant illegal land transactions that have been carried out in the Ogun State land
allocation MDAs; identify and unravel all illegal land transactions that have taken place to date; identify all perpetrators involved in any discovered illegal dealings.
He added that Commission of Inquiry is also to receive and investigate general complaints from the public around land acquisition and documentation in Ogun State; make recommendations to curb bottlenecks, delays, and corruption in land acquisition and documentation in Ogun State; unravel various sums of money involved in the illegal dealings, identify the value of government loss, and recommend methods of recovery.
The governor further charged the Commission to recommend necessary punishment to be meted out to erring person(s); suggest ways to curb or forestall re-occurrence of any identified illegalities or inefficiencies; and make any other suggestions and recommendations that could assist the state government in all other related matters.
He, however, noted that the members of the Commission are people of high integrity who are also experts in land matters and are not expected to yield to inducement or blackmail of any kind, assuring them of government support.
He said: “I have authorised the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Oluwasina Ogungbade (SAN) and all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to provide the required support – personnel and material – that the Commission will need to perform its task.
“In our own peculiar situation, land is our gold. It is our crude oil and thus plays a crucial role in our Administration’s ‘Building our Future Together’ Agenda. This is more especially in the areas of agricultural production and industrialisation; affordable housing and urban renewal; rural-infrastructural development as well as employment generation.
“For us in Ogun State, providence has been very good to us and blessed us with a land mass of approximately 16,762km2. The land is rich with abundant and commercially viable mineral resources such as limestone, bitumen, granite, mica, clay, feldspar, silica sand, gypsum, kaolin, shale, phosphate, quartz, sillimanite, gemstones, etc. The land is also suitable for different agricultural and agro-processing industries.”
Quoting a data released by the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria on the production of goods nationwide across 14 industrial zones, Abiodun said Lagos and Ogun States are responsible for about 86 per cent of all goods manufactured in Nigeria from January till May of this year translating to about N3.2 trillion worth of goods, while Ogun State accounted for N867.3 billion as of May.
He noted that by the end of the year, goods worth more than one trillion naira would have been produced in the state.
According to the governor: “We have achieved this by marketing, protecting, and transforming the vast and arable land that we are blessed with in Ogun State.
“We cannot afford that all these are wished away by the activities of a few dishonest people.
“These achievements must be supported by transparent, modern, and informed policymaking.
“We must identify any threats to these achievements, then take proactive effective steps to neutralise those threats and consolidate on our achievements.”
Speaking, the Chairman of the Commission assured that his members would do their best to unravel all illegal and improper allocations of land as stipulated in the Commission’s term of reference.
Olugbemi said the Commission at the end of its assignment would make recommendations that would lead to greater ease of doing business in the state, assuring that the report would also move the state to greater height in the use of land for economic purposes.