Recuse self from our case, Lagos tells FHC judge
Lagos State government has asked Justice David Osiagor of the Federal High Court, Lagos, to recuse himself from conducting any further proceedings in a suit filed by Admiral Festus Porbeni (rtd).
In the application filed by a state prosecutor, Adebayo Haroun, the state maintained that it is not confident of getting a fair-hearing before the court owing to the refusal of Justice Osiagor to hear its pending application.
Porbeni had filed a suit to challenge the alleged demolition of his property located at B20, Wole Olateju Crescent, off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1 in Eti-Osa Local Council by the state government.
The retired military officer and his company, Admiralty Fleet Limited (BICS Garden), had filed the suit against the Attorney General, National Inland Waterways Authority and Chairman, Lagos State Task Force.
The plaintiffs urged the court to declare that the alleged forceful entry and invasion of their premises by the defendants amounted to trespass and a breach of the plaintiffs’ fundamental right to own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria as guaranteed by Section 43 of the Constitution.
But in the application filed by the state government, Haroun argued that Justice Osiagor had refused to hear its application dated October 15, 2021 challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine “a matter pertaining to land.”
He submitted that while the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court was still pending, the judge decided to hear and grant an application for an injunction in favour of the plaintiffs.
The lawyer also stated that on November 5, 2021, the court again ignored and refused to take either the pending application challenging its jurisdiction or the application for stay of execution pending the determination of an appeal filed by the defendants on October 22, 2021, but went on to further direct the defendants to vacate the land.
Haroun further stated that on November 1, 2021, the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), wrote a letter to the Chief Judge (CJ) of the Federal High Court requesting him to transfer the case file of the matter to another court.
“However, when the matter came up for hearing on November 5, 2021, rather than wait for and/or respect the powers of the Chief Judge to approve or reject the request, Justice Osiagor continued to hear the matter and made further order directing defendants/applicants to vacate the land,” Haroun stated.
He also stated that the court granted the order of injunction on October 18, 2021, despite being made aware that the act for which an injunction was being sought was a completed act.
Haroun further alleged that the defendants/applicants are not confident of getting a fair hearing before the court given the continued refusal and neglect of the court to hear their pending applications challenging jurisdiction and for a stay of execution of the injunction granted on October 18, 2021, pending appeal.
In an affidavit filed in support of the application and deposed to by Saka Agbedina, a litigation clerk in the Ministry of Justice, the state averred that the government or its agents are not and have never been on the land in dispute.
Agbedina stated that the only business the Lagos State Special Task Force had on the land in dispute was to remove the encroachers/land grabbers found on the land on October 24, 2021, by the Lagos State Property Protection Law of 2016.
He also claimed that since the Lagos State Task Force on Land Grabbers handed over possession to Tetrazzini Food Limited, neither the Lagos State government nor any of its agencies have returned to the land.