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Court restrains Ogundipe, others from dealing with family land

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Justice Jubril Abisoye Bashua of a Lagos High Court, Ikeja has restrained Simon Ogundipe and others from alienating in any manner or dealing with Siwonoye family land without the consent, concurrence and authority of Siwonoye family members.
  
The judge made the order while delivering judgment in a four independent consolidated suit delineated LD/919/2012 and LD/1612/12 wherein Mr. Ogundipe, Olakunle Anifowoshe and Wasiu Mutiu sued for themselves and on behalf of the Siwonoye family of Odo Siwonoye Community in Epe local government of Lagos.
  
The suit was against Mr. Kabiru Lasisi, Ashiru Adeyigbo and 19 others, alleged to have alienated the Siwonoye family land without the consent of family members and compliance with the Land Use Act.
  

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Lasisi and others had on June 18, 2012 filed another suit against Ogundipe for a declaration to title and other reliefs in respect of the land situated at Odosiwonoye.
  
The defendant, Ogundipe filed his response to the suit and counterclaimed against the claimants. He also filed another suit claiming declaratory and injunctive reliefs with three others against Lasisi and 19 others in respect of the same land at Odo Siwonoye in Epe Local Government.
  
The four different suits filed by the two families to claim the ownership of the land were consolidated in December 2013 wherein they amended their pleadings.
  
The defendants/counter-claimants (Lasisi) argued that the first and second claimants are not members of Siwonoye family and not biological descendants or consanguineous members of the Siwonoye family. “1st claimant is from Tekusile village popularly called Tekule near Imobi village via Ogbere in Ijebu -East Local Government Area, Ogun State,” they claimed.
  
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Their case was that Siwonoye exercised unhindered allodial rights of ownership on the parcel of land known and called Odo-Siwonoye family land. They denied being customary tenants but the rightful children of Siwonoye the owner of Odo-Siwonoye.
  
The claimants/defendants in their counter-claim argued that the parcel of land was founded by their forefathers named Siwonoye who hail from Fiditope Royal family of Ijebu-Ode, adding that he named the land Siwonoye, being the founder of the land.
  
They insisted that neither the defendant/counter-claimants nor their forefathers had ever managed or been involved in the management or administration of affairs of the Siwonoye family of Odo-Siwonoye village. 
  
They argued that they have no right whatsoever over land belonging to the Siwonoye nor do they have any right to question how the same is administered and or who is competent to administer, alienate or allocate.
  
Justice Bashua held that the court put evidence of both parties on the imaginary scale to see which is heavier and probable and the party who is able to put cogent and credible evidence before the court has established his case on a balance of probability.
  
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The court upheld the argument of counsel to the counter claimants, Mr. Babatunde Oshilaja, saying they established their case from the evidence before the court and therefore entitled to their claims.
  
“The land described and delineated in Survey Plan No LAY/0339/2011/060/LA dates 18th August 2011 made by Lateef Aremu Yakubu licensed/registered surveyor belongs to the generality of Siwonoye family of Odosiwonoye via Epe, Lagos State except and without the defendants to counter-claim and that same can only be administered by the accredited head and representatives of Siwonoye family,” the court held.
  
The court also concluded that the traditional history of the counter-claimant is not probable, credible and cogent.
  
“The defendants to counter-claim not being the heads or any members of Siwonoye family cannot alienate or dispose of the Siwonoye family land or any part thereof outside the applicable provision of the Land Use Act,” the judge said.
  
He therefore granted an order, restraining the defendants to counter-claim from dealing with Siwonoye family land and awarded the cost of N500, 000 in favour of the counter-claimant.
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