Legal tussle may threaten multibillion-dollar Eko Atlantic City project

A real estate development firm, Sea Global Energy Company Limited, promoters of the Ocean City Lagos Project, has accused the Lagos State Government and South Energyx, promoters of the Eko Atlantic City project, of encroaching on the geographic confines of land allocated by the Federal Government for the development of its Ocean City Lagos Project.

This is happening at a time the Eko Atlantic City project is gaining traction, with banks and top companies, international organisations as well as foreign governments including the United States Consulate in Lagos acquiring parcels of land in the place.

The Managing Director of Sea Global Energy Company Limited, Adewunmi Osagie, said President Olusegun Obasanjo had on May 26, 2003, given the company the right to reclaim up to 350 hectares of land from the Atlantic Ocean through an extension of Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos, by 7km, from the junction of Adetokunbo Ademola Street towards Epe.

This followed an application which was made through the then Minister at the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing, Mr Madaki Alli, to the Federal Government for an allocation.

The allocation, given to the company, was for the development of The Palladium Project (now known as the Ocean City Lagos Project), a coastal city that would be characterised by five districts, cutting-edge infrastructure and technology such as found in model cities in Asia, the UAE and certain parts of Europe.

Following the approval, the government of Lagos State was notified and a series of meetings were held with the then governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the then Commissioner for Works, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the former DG Waterfront, Aremo Segun Oniru, and a host of other civil servants in the state.

However, in 2004 and then again in 2005, by way of a reminder to the President, the Lagos State Government also sought the approval of the Federal Government on behalf of Energyx Ltd. (now known as South Energyx Ltd.) for the allocation of Bar Beach landholding.

A copy of one of the letters written by the then governor Tinubu to President Obasanjo, which was made available to our correspondent, urged the Commander-in-Chief to sign off on the allocation due to the economic benefits that would accrue to the state as a result of the investment.

The letter, titled, “Permanent Solution to the Bar Beach,” said the investor (Energyx Ltd) had shown commitment to finance the project which would convert the monumental liability and danger into a tourist resort that would bring significant tourist revenue, create employment and direct economic growth to the countryObasanjo gave the approval on two conditions on April 25, 2005. The conditions were that the Federal Ministry of Works would supervise the project and any prior Federal Governments interest in the area must be respected.In an interview with our correspondent, CEO of Sea Global Energy Company Ltd, Osagie, claimed that South Energyx, in the course of delivering its Eko Atlantic City project, with the backing of the state government, encroached upon 44.348 hectares of land initially allocated by the Federal Government in 2003.

She also claimed that at least three letters had been written to the office of the Federal Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, for due inquiry to be launched into the matter for the purpose of resolving it equitably and peacefully.The Sea Global Energy CEO, however, said the letters had yet to be replied to.

She said, “We wrote several letters to the office of the Minister of Works, but there was no reply. The allocation was done by the Federal Government in 2003. The land belongs to the Federal Government, which is why the Governor of Lagos had to seek approval from the Federal Government for a similar allocation to be made for South Energyx. If the state government had the right to allocate the land, why didn’t the governor use his powers to make the allocation to Energyx Ltd. in 2005 without approval from the President of Nigeria?”

Osagie also stated that after several attempts to get the attention of critical stakeholders to resolve the conflict, Sea Global Energy lodged an action at the state high court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square before Justice Grace Modupe Onyeabor.

She also sought the intervention of the Vice President after civil servants had done their work and adjudged that there was an encroachment in December 2018.

There were also several memos reportedly written to Mr Babatunde Fashola who had directed that a stakeholders’ meeting be held since February 2019 for the purpose of resolving this impasse.

Osagie claimed that a memo written to the minister on July 8, 2021, had yet to be treated till date. With the intervention of the Permanent Secretary, Director of Lands, Director of Legal Services, Director of the Cadastral and several other deputy directors in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, a site visit was carried out and it was proposed that there would be a need to determinate if South Energyx had

allegedly trespassed beyond the allocation given to it by the Federal Government for its Eko Atlantic City project.

A letter addressed to Sea Global Energy from the Ministry, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent, read in part, “I am directed to refer to your letter of July 2, 2018 on the above subject matter and inform you that there will be need to carry out a fresh survey of the site to ascertain the extent of overlap by the activities of the Eko Atlantic City.”

A new survey map, a copy of which also was made available to our reporter, showing the allegedly encroached area, was issued by the Director of the Cadastral on behalf of the Surveyor General of the Federation to Sea Global Energy.

The survey map was distinctly different from the earlier survey map issued to Sea Global in May 2003, prior to the alleged encroachment by the Lagos State Government/South Energyx.

Osagie also stated that the Office of the Surveyor General, in delineating the geographical locations of the two allocations, advised on March 10, 2020 that both allocations were in different locations. While the allocation to Sea Global in May 2003 placed the Ocean City Project in the Kuramo Beach area with different coordinates, the allocation two years later to Lagos State in April 2005 placed them at the Bar Beach as requested by Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu with different coordinates. Copies of the relevant documents were made available to our reporter.

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