By Grace Alegba
Lagos – The 15-storey Federal Secretariat Complex in Ikoyi, Lagos, abandoned since 1991 following the relocation
of the country’s capital from Lagos to Abuja, is now a shadow of its former self.
Built in 1976, the facility which served as the engine room of the federal civil service, is virtually in a ruinous state, stripped of doors,
windows and other fittings, a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) check has revealed.
A section of the building formerly occupied by the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) which
was gutted by fire is yet to be renovated.
The Federal Government had planned to convert
the facility into residential accommodation consisting of four, three and two bedroom
flats, but the move was halted by the Lagos State Government.
LASG, however, in 2006 passed the Ikoyi/Victoria Model City Plan Bill, insisting that the secretariat remains an institutional building
that cannot be converted to other uses.
NAN reports that the facility was given to a concessionaire, Dr Wale Babalakin, who had planned an investment of N7.2 billion.
Six years after fierce legal battle over the facility between the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Wale Babalakin
and one of his companies, Resort International Ltd, the matter has been resolved in favour of the defendants.
AMCON and Babalakin have been in a legal battle for the possession of Federal Secretariat Complex, Ikoyi, since 2012.
In the suit filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos, against Babalakin and his company, AMCON is seeking an order for the repayment
of the sum of N20.5 billion comprising principal sum and accrued interest as at October 2011 on various loan facilities allegedly
granted to the businessman and personally guaranteed by his company.
The asset management firm also sought an order granting it the power of sale or disposal of a parcel of land known as Alma Beach
property, and the parcel of land known as the Federal Secretariat Complex, Phase 1 & 2, Ikoyi in partial or final liquidation of the debt.
NAN correspondents, who visited the facility, reports that the premises was being guarded by policemen to prevent people from
having access to the secretariat.
The policemen, however, restricted the movement of our correspondents, saying they are under instruction to prevent people’s
access to the facility as it is still under litigation.
“This place is under seal by an order of the court. We are here to stop people from going into the building.
“The pedestrian gate is opened because of the First Bank customers who come into the premises to transact businesses,” one of
the policemen told NAN.
However, the presence of some government agencies beside the secretariat has brought life to the area with high human and vehicular movements.
Scores of peoples were seen at the Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Prison Service and the Criminal Investigation and
Intelligence Department of the Police, Alagbon.
Contacted for his comment, Mr Dickson Onoja, the Director of Public Buildings in the Federal Ministry of Housing, Abuja, told NAN on telephone that the property was no longer under the control of the ministry.
Onoja said the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Sale of Federal Government Landed Property in Abuja was in a better
position to speak on the status of the secretariat.
“The Federal Secretariat buildings in Ikoyi are no longer ours and no longer under our control as it is one of the buildings sold off
some years back.
“I am told issues came up in relation to development control, building plan approvals and permits which are under the jurisdiction of
state government,’’ he said.
Efforts to contact the Presidential Implementation Committee were unsuccessful.
However, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Lagos Branch, has advised the Federal Government to collaborate with the
Lagos State Government to sell off the secretariat complex to save the national monument from further deterioration.
Mr Johnson Akinwande, the Branch Chairman, told NAN that both governments should reach an agreement on the facility without
Akinwande explained that earlier moves by the Federal Government to sell the asset to private individuals failed because the buyer
wanted to use it for purposes that contravened the Lagos Master Plan for the area.
He also called for integrity tests and proper Environmental Impact Assessment of the facility.