AN ASSESSMENT OF COMPULSORY ACQUISITION PRACTICE (A CASE STUDY OF FEDERAL POLYTECHNIC, UKANA.)
- Background of the Study
The need for public authorities to have access to land for the good of the people manifests in various forms. In environmental emergencies for instance, public authorities may need, in the interest of public health, to resettle people whose properties are located in irreparably contaminated areas. To develop infrastructure, such as roads and power stations, governments may need to acquire land to place these assets. To provide basic amenities like hospitals, schools and shopping centre, governments will need land to site them. When a government expropriates property, compensation should be timely, adequate and effective. The right to fair compensation and due process is uncontested and is reflected in all international investment agreements.
Section 44(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 28 of the Land Use Act show that the duty imposed on the acquiring authority to pay compensation is not merely statutory, it is constitutional which also places the right to compensation as a fundamental human right appearing under Chapter IV of the Constitution. Therefore, failure to pay compensation upon acquisition is unconstitutional and a breach of fundamental human rights of the person entitled to the compensation.
The purpose of compensation is to place in the hands of the expropriated owner the full money equivalent of the thing of which he has been deprived. And so compensation should seek to give in monetary terms, the same amount as the owner would have realized had he sold his property voluntarily. Such an expropriated owner may not get, by way of compensation any enhanced value due to the fact of the acquisition or revocation, and neither should he suffer any diminution in value arising from the same cause.
The principles for the assessment and payment of compensation are provided for under sections 6 (5) (6) and (7), 29, 30 and 33 of the Land Use Act and Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution provides that ‘(1) No moveable property or any interest in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of Nigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by a law that, among other things – (a) requires the prompt payment of compensation therefore and (b) gives to any person claiming such compensation a right of access for the determination of his interest in the property and the amount of compensation to a court of law or tribunal or body having jurisdiction in that part of Nigeria.’. What is clear though is that under the Act delayed payment is not acceptable and attracts interest at the bank rate in some cases. Indeed, in the case of a Local Government that refuses or neglects to pay compensation to a landowner within a reasonable time, the appropriate Governor is empowered to proceed to assess the compensation payable and direct the Local Government to make the payment.
A closer look at the provisions of the constitution and the Act reveals how the entire exercise of compulsory acquisition and payment of compensation should be carried out. This research therefore seeks to assess the extent of compliance with the provisions using the acquisition of land for the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana as a case study.
- Statement of Problem
The Akwa Ibom State Government exercise the powers conferred on it to compulsorily acquire about 50 hectares of land cutting across three villages: Ukana Ikot Ntuen, Ukana Ikot Oku Etim and Ukana Onuk all in Essien Udim Local Government Area, for the purpose of constructing a permanent site for the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana. Almost a year after the revocation notice and the compulsory exercise had been conducted, the expropriated owners are yet to receive their compensation. This is obviously a bridge of the provisions of the enabling laws.
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this study is to critically assess the procedure for compulsory acquisition and compensation under the Land Use Act.
In line with the aim, the following objectives are envisaged:
- to find out how the people were notified of the intention to compulsorily acquire their interests.
- to investigate who carried out the compensation assessment
- to assess the adequacy or otherwise of the methods used in the valuation
- to find out the problems associated with payment of compensation.
- to find out how the problems can be prevented.
1.4 Scope of the Study
The study will cover the large expanse of land acquired for the permanent site of Federal Polytechnic Ukana which comprises three villages: Ukana Ikot Ntuen, Ukana Ikot Oku Etim and Ukana Onuk and in particular, the economic trees and crops and structures affected by the acquisition.
1.5 Significance of the Study
This Research Study will add to the existing literature on how to solve the age-long problem of fair and adequate compensation to property owners whose interests in those properties have been compulsorily acquired by the government often for overriding public interest with the ultimate goal of helping the government in policy formulation with respect to compulsory acquisition and payment of compensation.
1.6 Research Questions
The research intends to provide answers to the following questions:
- i) How was the notification done?
- ii) Who carried out the compensation assessment?
iii) Are the methods used in valuing properties adequate?
- iv) What are the problems associated with payment of compensation? and
- iv) How can the problems be prevented?
1.7 The Study Area
The study area of this research is the site earmarked as the permanent site for the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana. The site comprises three villages namely: Ukana Ikot Ntuen, Ukana Ikot Oku Etim and Ukana Onuk in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. The area covers an approximate area of 50 hectares of land.