The Deeper Christian Life Ministry (
DCLM ) has demanded a compensation of N140 million from the Lagos State government for the planned demolition of its church house at Biney Street, Yaba, Lagos.
But reacting to the demand in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the government says the church is only entitled to N19 million.
The church’s demand is contained in its petition sent to the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the state House of Assembly.
PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday obtained a copy of the church’s petition dated May 27, 2021 and signed on its behalf by its lawyer, Nojim Tairu.
The church alleged that a large chunk of the church’s premises, which serves as the headquarters of its Yaba group, was marked for demolition by the state through the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
It said it had been in possession of the land for over a decade and had peacefully occupied it until the Lagos State government marked its structures for demolition without giving any notice or providing reasons for its action.
The church said it found that some days earlier, a structure adjoining its building was demolished by agents of the state government, while another property on the other side of the church had been evacuated preparatory to demolition.
DCLM said it would not object to the state government’s development efforts, but insisted that the proper procedure for acquiring private property for public use must be complied with.
The church specifically stated that a joint evaluation of the property and payment of adequate compensation ought to be done for the government to legitimately acquire the land for any public interest.
“Whilst our client is not, in principle, against the development of the state and the government’s proposal to use the section of her land for overriding public interest, the irreducible minimum in any clime is that the government and its agencies, being institutions and custodians of the law, must comply with applicable laws in such circumstance so as not to leave any room for speculations on their intentions/actions or worse still, set a dangerous precedent in that regard.
“In the premise, we look forward to the appropriate formal communication from the government/its relevant agencies on the subject so as to elicit the needed cooperation from our client and set in motion necessary arrangements for what is due and needful in the circumstance, including proper/joint evaluation of the subject property and payment of adequate compensation thereof,” part of the letter reads.
To assist the government, the church said it had engaged estate valuers which put the value of the property at N140 million.
“Meanwhile, in order to assist the state to expedite the required process, particularly if the speculated purpose of the land is correct, that is, an integral part of the state’s public transportation/hub, our client has taken the initiative of procuring the services of a firm of estate valuers to assess the property, the open market value of which was put at N140 million, as captured in the valuation report attached herewith,” the petition also reads.
Lagos agency reacts
But LAMATA denied the church’s claims.
“The issues raised in the petition by the Deeper Christian Life Ministry are untrue,” LAMATA’s Head of Corporate Communications, Kolawole Ojelabi, said in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Wednesday.
He said the Lagos State Government had in October 2020, embarked on a Redline Rail Project from Agbado to Marina all in a bid to improve public transport in the city.
According to Mr Ojelabi, “all property owners and tenants in affected communities of Yaba and the rest were duly informed and compensated”.
He said contrary to the claim in the petition, the government had formally communicated the planned demolition to the church.
He also blamed the church for not ‘cooperating’ with LAMATA to be compensated. He accused the church of rejecting the N19 million compensation offered by the government.
“We (LAMATA) offered the church over N19 million as compensation for the unoccupied property. You see, when the government acquires a property for public use, it only pays for the depreciated value of the property, not the land itself,” he said.
He added, “They (the church officials) have been to our office twice. I have been to theirs twice.
“We engaged the local government, market women, religious bodies and school authorities; members of the Community Development Association were invited. The meeting was held last year.
“We engaged a consultant to enumerate everybody, property owners and tenants.
All the names and properties involved were published in the media.
“All landlords were invited as part of a groundbreaking ceremony, where they were all compensated by the Lagos State Governor.
“They claimed that they were not aware of the announcement for property owners to submit ownership documents. That is not true. The affected properties were all published in the media.
“The church was not willing to cooperate with LAMATA. But this is a public interest project that everyone should key into.
“Their title documents have been revoked by the Lagos State Government.
“We have given them compensation value. They are contesting the amount of the compensation. It’s strange for a church to misinform the public about the project.”