An automobile and industrial engineer, Omotilewa Adediwura, has accused the Redeemed Christian Church of God, City of Kings parish, of encroaching on a property he reportedly acquired in the Ijegun area of Lagos 14 years ago.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Adediwura allegedly bought two plots of land in 2004 and acquired its Certificate of Occupancy.
He reportedly travelled to England afterwards.
It was learnt that the plots of land, when acquired by Adediwura, had a residential building on one part, while the RCCG parish made use of the unused part on which it erected a temporary structure.
There was reportedly no agreement or contract on the use of the said portion of land between Adediwura and the church.
On returning from England in 2015, the 53-year old said the church had erected a permanent structure on the land, adding that all attempts to reclaim his property had proven abortive.
He said, “In 2004, I bought the property with the CofO from the owner, who relocated to Canada. I paid N6.5m for the two plots of land. One part has a twin duplex with some tenants occupying it. I asked the man who sold the property to me about the church using the other part of the land, and he said he was going to talk to the pastor and they would leave anytime I wanted them to leave. He called one of the pastors in charge at that time to inform him that he had sold the land and the church would have to vacate the place and the man agreed. I asked about the tenants occupying the building, and I was told that they would move out as well, which they did after six months.
“I went to London to teach some courses. When I returned in 2009 for my father’s burial, I saw that the church had erected a structure on the part of the land they were using and I asked them who gave them the permission to do so. They said the pastor was not around. I requested that the pastor should contact me whenever he was around, but he did not. I could not wait to do anything about it because I needed to get back.
“By the time I came back finally in 2015, I discovered that they had completed the structure and even knocked my fence off and made a gate there. I knew that they were existing, but it was supposed to be temporary because they didn’t pay anything to the person I bought the land from. That land is not meant for the church and I did not buy the land for them.”
Adediwura said he had written several letters to the church, adding that he was ignored.
He noted that he had also petitioned the Lagos State Building Control Agency, Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development and the Lagos Special Taskforce on Landgrabbers.
He said he was frustrated because he had yet to get any feedback from any of the government agencies.
The Pastor-in-Charge of the RCCG, City of God parish, Pastor Williams Odagi, however, said the church had been occupying the land for 15 years, adding that Adediwura only wanted to discredit it.
He noted that the church’s title documents had been stolen by burglars.
He said, “The land was acquired by the church from the owner in 2003. The person we bought the land from is our neighbour and he was using it for farming when we bought it from him. In 2005, robbers came to burgle the church and stole our original documents. It was after the incident that the man said he had the CofO. Unknown to him, we had already logged the document in the database of the Regional Planning and Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development.
“We are working to retrieve the documents so that we can show proof that we have documents. If he can wait for so many years, he should exercise some patience while the authorities do their work. He has taken us to the land grabbers’ agency and the state physical planning ministry. If he has a case, he should take us to court rather than trying to discredit the church.”
The LABSCA Public Relations Officer, who identified himself only as Mr Gbade, said the agency only dealt with building regulations.
“We don’t mediate between parties over landed property. The best bet for the man in question is to seek redress in court,” he added.
An official of the Lagos Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers, who declined identification, said the agency had started working on his petition.
He said, “We received the petition on April 30, 2018. We reviewed it and contacted both parties for a meeting. The respondent (The Redeemed Christian Church of God) was absent at the meeting on the grounds that the person with the document was not available at the time.
“Another meeting was scheduled, but the respondent came on an earlier date and the meeting could not hold. We are supposed to meet with the petitioner and the respondent again next week Wednesday (September 19).
“The petitioner already tendered his own documents. When the respondent brings its documents, the documents would be taken and investigated. If it is seen that the petitioner is the owner of the land and he has title to the said land, we will ensure that he continues to enjoy possession. We do not determine matters of title; that’s for the court. We only determine possession and possessory right.”
Calls put across to the Commissioner of the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development Authority, Mr Rotimi Ogunleye, rang out.
He had yet to reply to a text message sent to his telephone number as of press time.