RE: BUDGET DEFICIT: GOVERNMENT MAY SELL TBS, NIPPs, 25 KEY ASSETS
The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn to the news report on the front page of Punch Newspaper dated 21st October, 2022 that the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, is planning to either sell or grant concession in respect of Tafawa Balewa Square situate in Lagos Island, Lagos State.
The Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation (HAGF) must be aware that the position of the Federal Government to either sell or concession the Tafawa Balewa Square cannot be valid as the HAGF is the Plaintiff in Suit No. SC.508/2012 between Attorney-General of the Federation vs. Attorney-General of Lagos State pending before the Supreme Court wherein the HAGF is seeking for a declaration that the ownership of the land, building, monuments structures and fixtures better known as Tafawa Balewa Square in the city of Lagos is vested in the Federal Government. The Suit is fixed for 1st November, 2022 for hearing by the Apex Court.
Unfortunately, this is the second time the Federal Government and its Agencies have taken this position, which is quite contrary to the recognition that there is an existing and pending dispute between the parties in relation to the ownership of the Tafawa Balewa Square and this resulted in the HAGF invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to seek resolution of the dispute between the Federal Government and Lagos State Government.
In response to the Federal Government’s first attempt to circumvent the matter pending at the Supreme Court, on the 17th of June, 2021 the Lagos State Government took out an advertorial in the Punch Newspaper to refute the allegation of the Federal Government and its Agencies to ownership of the Tafawa Balewa Square. A copy of the advertorial is attached for ease of reference.
It is the position of law that once parties have submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the court they are not to take any action that will affect the subject matter of the Suit and any plan to either sell or concession the Tafawa Balewa Square during the pendency of the Suit before the Supreme Court will violate the principle of lis pendis and such sale or concession is liable to be declared null and void.
As the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, it is incumbent on your office to advise the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and Bureau of Public Enterprises that no such sale or concession in respect of Tafawa Balewa Square is to be embarked upon until the Suit instituted by your office in the Supreme Court is determined.
Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN)
Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State