The Supreme Court of Nigeria on Friday struck out the application brought before it by the Federal Government seeking to stop the Lagos State Government from asserting control over the landed properties it (The Federal Government) sold out to individuals and corporate bodies.
The apex court held that since the Federal Government had already sold out the properties and divested its interest in them, it can no longer have any interest that can be threatened by any action taken by the government of Lagos State.
Delivering ruling in an application filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) seeking to stop Lagos State Government from having any control on the sold properties, the Supreme Court held that the Federal Government can no longer invoke the jurisdiction of the apex court.
In the lead ruling delivered by Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammed, the Seven-member panel of Justices of the apex court held that the objection of Lagos State government against the Federal government application was correct on the ground that the Federal government no longer has any interest to protect on the properties.
Justice Muhammed agreed with the Lagos State government that the Federal government, having transferred its title on the land to others, it is untenable for the same Federal government to assert that its interest is being adversely threatened by the action of the Lagos State government.
“The Plaintiff, who lacks the standing to sue cannot invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to assert a title it no longer has. It will be academic and hypothetical for the court to proceed in a matter it has no jurisdiction”, Justice Muhammed held.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government sold off its landed properties in Lagos State to individuals and corporate bodies
Dispute however arose when Lagos State government directed the buyers of the said properties to regularise the ownership of the properties with the state Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) on the ground that the properties are situate in Lagos.
In reaction to the action of the Lagos State government, the Federal Government, through the AGF had approached the Supreme Court to invoke its original jurisdiction and to also order that the Lagos State government has no right to assert any control over the properties it had sold out.
The Lagos State government had, in its objection asked the Supreme Court to strike out the application of the Federal government on the ground that, having sold out the properties, it is no longer the appropriate party that can sue on whatever action the state intends to take with the new owners.
The Supreme Court agreed with the Lagos State government that the Federal government, having sold out the properties, no longer has any interest to protect on the properties again,
The unanimous ruling consequently struck out the application of the Federal government in favour of the Lagos State.