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Court dismisses suit against businessman, others

By Yetunde Ayobami Ojo
22 November 2022   |   4:00 am
A Lagos High Court, Yaba, has dismissed a suit filed against the Commissioner of Police, Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), businessman, Olisa Chigbo Innocent and others over alleged harassment and forceful possession of property.

A Lagos High Court, Yaba, has dismissed a suit filed against the Commissioner of Police, Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), businessman, Olisa Chigbo Innocent and others over alleged harassment and forceful possession of property.

The claimant, Gosic Trends International Limited, had filed the suit marked LD/1250MFHR/2021 alleging harassment, intimidation and intent to eject it from the property situated along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway beside the Fire Station bordering the DHL company.

Aside from the Commissioner of Police FIB, Annex Lagos, other respondents in the suit are Oshodi /Isolo Local Government, Isolo Local Council Development Area, the Chairman, Isolo Local Council Development Area, Olisa Chigbo Innocent and Ahaji Akeem Ogunseye as first to sixth respondents respectively.

However, while delivering judgment, trial Judge, Ezekiel Oluwole Ashade, dismissed the application for lack of jurisdiction.

The court held that the applicant has not shown by its affidavit, evidence that the second and third respondents or any of the respondents, forcefully took possession of its property and it has failed to show that any of its fundamental rights have been breached by any of the respondents to entitle it to the reliefs it sought.

After citing plethora of decided cases,Jjustice Ashade said: “Therefore, for this court to find that the applicant’s right against deprivation of ownership of property as guaranteed by Section 44(1) of the 1999 Constitution (supra) was breached, the applicant has to show that the respondents forcefully took physical control of its property.”

“From the facts in the instant suit, the issue of title to the property/land described as being situate along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway beside the Fire Service Station bordering the DHL Company, which allegedly forms part of a large tract of land measuring approximately 5,000 acres allegedly acquired by the Old Western Region, is clearly in dispute.

“The issue of the identity of the land was also put in question by paragraph 6(b) of the 2nd – 3rd respondents’ counter-affidavit and paragraph 28 (ii) of the 5th respondent’s counter-affidavit.

“There is also the contention of the 5th respondent that he was in possession of the land since May 2018 before the applicant and the 6th respondent allegedly forcefully took over the land in June 2020. Moreso, there is evidence on whether or not the Supreme Court judgment covers the property in dispute.

“The 2nd to 4th respondents as well as the 5th respondent have also clearly contradicted the applicant’s claim that he was dispossessed of the land.

The applicant’s Managing Director also admittedly averred that the title of the land leased by the applicant is registered in the name of one Mrs. Dorcas Aduke.

Ogunseye, who is deceased, and that the applicant was/is not the only occupant of the land but that there were/are other people in occupation of the land.

“Therefore, there is no doubt that apart from the parties in this suit, there are other persons whose interest in the land, a part of which the applicant allegedly leased, still has to be determined.

“In light of all these conflicting claims and contentious issues surrounding title to the land, the issues of title to, and identity of, the land, which the applicant claimed to have leased and in possession are in dispute. It is only after it is established that the applicant has right to possession over the land allegedly leased by it that the issue of the land being forcefully taken over can be determined, but this is not the appropriate forum for the determination of those issues.”

Justice Ashade also held the submission of counsel to 2nd to 4th respondents and 5th respondent that the application is incompetent because it pertains to a tenancy or land matter of a proposed ejection or title to land.

“This action was wrongly brought under Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rule 2009. The applicant has no reasonable cause of action in this suit in respect of the allegation made by the applicant regarding arrest,” the judge held.