Court rules on association’s legal status November 30
An Ogun State High Court sitting in Shagamu has fixed November 30, 2020 to rule on an application filed by members of the Efure community, Offin in Sagamu area of the state over the legal status of an associatiion.
The applicants are praying the court to determine whether Methodist Missionary Trust Association Limited has legal status as an incorporated limited company in Nigeria.
The trial judge, Justice Olatunde Oyajinmi fixed the date after counsel to parties argued their applications before the court. At the resumed proceedings, the claimant counsel, Mr. Babatunde Oshilaja informed the court of his two pending applications, which have been served on all the respondents.
One of the applications is seeking leave of the court to file additional witness statement and an order to deem it as properly filed. But counsel to the 1st and 3rd defendants, Mr. A. Osakwe objected to the moving of the application.
He argued that the application should have been accompanied by statement of additional witness and that the name of the 1st claimant ought to have been expunged.
He argued that the counsel ought to have informed the court that the first claimant is no more alive.” Oshilaja however submitted that he could not asked the court to expunge the name of the first claimant due to the COVID-19 pandemic that restrained travelling movement.
On the statement of witness to be attached, Oshilaja said the list of witnesses was attached to the application. He argued that the rules do not state it must be on the first page of the application.
The claimants, Samuel Banjo, Emmanuel Adelesi and Kolawole Odugbesi had through their lawyer, Oshilaja asked the court to nullify the Deed of Lease dated March 15, 1931 on 53.94 acres of land kept at Ogun state land registry, Abeokuta alleging that Wesley Methodist Missionary Trust Association Limited is unknown to law.
Other defendants in the suit are; the Registrar of Titles, Ogun State; the Incorporated Trustees of the Methodist Church; Nigeria Sagamu Local Government; Vigilante Security Organisation; Oladega Ajelana, Wasiu Asanko and Mrs. Abosede Dauda(members of Kajola Saw Millers); Wasiu Jebe, Alhaja Ganiyat Adebayo, Tunbosun Okubote, Yaya Okesola, Bolanle Adeboga and the Gospel Sabbatarian the True Church of God.
The claimants in their 36-page motion on Notice stated that only legal persons are capable of possessing legal rights and duties and since Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Trust Association Limited was not a legal person registered under the Nigerian law as at March 15, 1931 or thereafter it can not acquire an interest in the leasehold land.
The family added that Methodist Missionary Trust Association limited has no legal status, as it was not an incorporated limited company, hence there was no execution of the Deed of Lease on the disputed land.
The claimants stated that as at March 15, 1931 the Wesley Missionary Trust Association Limited was not known to law hence was not legally capable of exercising the powers and functions of an incorporated company including the power to hold the leasehold land.
They maintained that Wesley Missionary Trust Association Limited failed to comply with general conditions laid down in the Companies’ Ordinance of 1912, or the Companies Act of 1948 and failed to obtain registration and incorporation as a limited liability company.
But, in its amended memorandum of appearance brought under order 9, rule 1(1), the 1st and 3rd defendants, (Wesley Missionary Trust Association Limited and the Incorporated Trustees of the Methodist Church) through their counsel stated that the defendants did not know the claimants and there was no relationship between them since 1931 when the land was acquired.
They argued that the claimants’ action has been defeated by statute of limitation, lacking reasonable cause of action and should be dismissed. They further stated that the claimants’ case has been defeated by laches and acquiescence (unreasonable and inexcusably delay) and liable to be dismissed.