Land dispute: court strikes out suit against monarch

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Mar 11th, 2014
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Justice Morenike Obadina of a Lagos High Court, Igbosere has struck out a suit filed by the Adeshiba Ayeloja, Adedewe family seeking to stop the Ojora of Ojora, Oba Fatai Aromire from demolishing houses on a vast area of land measuring approximately 1,324 hectres in Awori, Badagry.

The Supreme Court had on December 13, 2000, in a judgment affirmed the verdict of a Lagos High Court in suit LD/562/72. An Appeal Court’s decision in suit CA/L/86/2001 is also in favour of the monarch.

But the claimants in an application brought through their lawyer, Segun Raji, urged Justice Obadina to set aside the judgment granted the defendants in suit LD/562/72, alleging that the said judgment was obtained by fraud.

The claimants, Shehu Adedewe, Nureni Adedewe and Morufu Adedewe suing for themselves and for the family in a 92-page statement of claim, averred that the land in dispute exclusively belonged to their great grandfather, Adeshiba Ayeloja Adedewe over 500 years ago.

Aside their request for setting aside of the judgment in the 1972 suit, they prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from selling, allotting, destroying or building any structure on the land in dispute.

They averred that their great grandfather had been in possession of the land before the Lagos Colony was divided into three.

According to the claimants, it is clear from history contained in intelligence report from an interview granted in Lagos by the Oluwa Onitana, the Olumegbon elders and other elders of the Iga Idunganran in 1934 that the Awori people, such as the claimants’ ancestors, did not come to Lagos Chiefs until the time of Oba Ado.

They added that it was Oba Ado, who because of his plans to increase the economy of Lagos that invited his friend, (the claimants’ great grandfather) from the Opake Eganyima town now known today as Orile Iganmu to his place.

Joined as defendants with the Ojora are the Odofin of Ojora land, Chief Fatai Sulaiman; the Attorney General of Lagos; the Surveyor General of Lagos; Lagos State Physical Planning; Surveyor General of the Federation; Inspector General of Police and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police.

In their defence, the first and second defendants (Ojora and Odofin) through their lawyer, Ola Okunniyi urged the court to dismiss the suit for abuse of court process.

They stated that having regard to the final judgment of the Supreme Court in suit SC/54/2005 which determined the rights and interest of parties in respect of the land in dispute, there was no basis for the claimants to approach the High Court on the issue again.

They prayed the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the claimants whether by themselves, servants, agent or privies from further trespassing or attempting to exercise proprietary rights over the land.

In her ruling, Justice Obadina aligned herself with the defendants.

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