Ondo court resolves 106-year land dispute
An Ondo State High Court sitting at Okitipupa, yesterday, resolved a lingering land dispute that had spanned 106 years in Igbokoda, the headquarters of Ilaje Local Council of the state.
In the suit, HOK/51/2019 Oloja Juwon Semudara, the claimant had sued Benjamin Olomidegun over dredging operations in the area, claiming that the land was sold to him by the Apoi people, while legal battles were going on with Igbokoda, Mahin, and Ilaje communities.
However, the Olu of Igbokoda, through his counsel, Chief Sola Ebiseni, applied to join the suit with a counter-claim, insisting that Kofawe, Kurugbene, and Ipinle were all parts of Igbokoda land as decided by the Colonial Provincial Court in 1917 in a suit between the Amapetu of Mahin representing the Igbokoda community and the Kalasuwe Oba of the Ijaws.
He further contended that Semudara had no land in any part of Igbokoda, which included Kofawe, Kurugbene, and Ipinle, which are distinct and separate communities.
The defendants insisted that the agreement and the survey plan of Juwon Semudara were not genuine, and three other cases relating to land at Kofawe being claimed by the same claimant were also consolidated.
In the 19-page judgment delivered by Justice Temitope Adedipe, the court observed that all the parties agreed that Kurugbene and Kofawe were separate and distinct communities, which the claimant and his witnesses confirmed in evidence.
The court further held that “there was no agreement executed either on January 19, 1995 or any other date tendered before this court that conferred title or headship of Kofawe on the claimant” and concluded that “the claim of the claimant fails and it is dismissed in its entirety.”
On the counter-claim, the court held that “the Court of Appeal having declared title in favor of the counter-claimant in Exhibit DWC and affirmed by the Supreme Court in Exhibit DWD, can this court again make any declaration in respect of the same subject matter already pronounced upon by the apex court?” It is an unnecessary, unwarranted, inconsequential, and academic venture to do so.”
The court further held that “second relief of the counter-claim succeeds to the extent that the agreement dated January 19, 1995, in respect of the land at Kurugbene does not confer ownership on the claimant in respect of the land at Kofawe.”
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