Court to hear application on ownership of Eko Atlantic City July 5
A Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos, will on July 5, 2022, hear a motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction in a suit filed by Lagos State government and South Energyx Nigeria Ltd against Ocean City Lagos Ltd over ownership of all parcels of land measuring 1,037.763 hectares, known as Eko Atlantic City.
Justice Kayode Ogunjobi had fixed yesterday for hearing of the application but the case was stalled due to the absence of the judge.
Lagos State governor and South Energyx Nigeria Ltd had in the suit claimed ownership of the parcel of land in dispute and urged the court to declare the allocation and vesting of rights, which Ocean City Lagos Ltd possessed a nullity.
Besides, the claimants are seeking a declaration that by virtue of the provisions of the Land Use Act 1978 Cap. L5 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, the 1st Claimant (Governor of Lagos State) is the appropriate authority to grant Statutory Right of Occupancy over state lands situated in Lagos State.
But, Ocean City Lagos in a Notice of Preliminary Objection dated May 9, 2022, filed by its lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) is challenging the competence of the suit on the ground that the defendant was not served with the originating process as required by the rules of court.
Ozekhome said that none of the Directors of the defendant was served with the originating process or other processes in this suit arguing that the Court Bailiff never specified the place it purportedly dropped the processes at the registered office of the Defendant.
He contended that the essence of service is to put the other party on notice of the suit against it adding that no service either personal/ substituted was effected on the Defendant.
The respondent counsel, Ozekhome, is prayed the court to declare the suit as an abuse of court process on the ground the suit is substantially the same as Suit Number LD/70921LMW/2018 filed by Sea Global Energy Company Nigeria Ltd vs. South Energyx Nigeria Ltd & six others, pending before Justice Josephine Oyefeso, as such the extant Court has no jurisdiction over the action.
He argued that the extant suit and the suit pending before Justice Oyefeso are substantially the same and constitute an abuse of the court process.
“The parties are the same. The claimants admitted in paragraphs 22– 28 of their Statement of Claim that the Defendant in this suit is an affiliate of Sea Global Energy Company Nigeria. The Defendant admitted same and noted that Sea Global is the parent company of Defendant.”
The defendant further stated that the claimants did not rebut the Defendant/Applicant’s assertion that the subject matter and the reliefs sought in this extant suit are substantially the same as the suit pending before Justice Josephine Oyefeso.
“That it is an abuse of court process for a party in a suit to institute another matter (in the same court) against substantially the same parties, for the purpose of demonstrating and determining the subject matter before another judge of the same court.
The defendants further stated that the claimants failed to comply with Pre-action protocol, which states that where parties resort to litigation after attempts at settlement in accordance with the Practice Direction have remained unsuccessful, a Pre-action Protocol Form 01, accompanied by all Pre-action correspondence duly acknowledged and exchanged between the parties must be made on oath and filed at the Registry with the appropriate originating processes and other originating documents.
He added that failure to comply with the Pre-action protocol leads to the rejection of the process for filing
Consequently, Defendant contented that the whole suit is an abuse of court process and is therefore liable to be struck out.
The matter has been adjourned till July 5, 2022, for a hearing of pending applications.