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Firms, families battle Oba of Ijora over Iganmu’s land

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The battle over the soul of a land located at Abebe village, Brewery in Iganmu Lagos last week shifted to the Appeal court, Lagos, following an appeal filed against the ruling of Justice Adeniji Onigbanjo of a Lagos High Court.

In the appeal, the Claimants/Applicants namely, Taylor Woodrow Nig Ltd, Beta Transport Nig Ltd, La Vendure Nig Ltd, Hamzat Subair and Waheed Enitan Oshodi are asking the appellate court to set aside the ruling of Justice Onigbanjo in March 10, 2020 in suit No: LD/8671/ LMW/2019.

In the suit, the plaintiffs had sued the Ojora of Ijora, HRM Oba Abdual Fatai Aremu Aromire and Prince Olayiwola Oluwa over the disputed land and had by a Motion on Notice dated December 2, 2019 prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants (HRM Oba Abdual Fatai Aremu Aromire and Prince Olayiwola Oluwa) either by themselves or through their agents, servants or privies from trespassing or further trespassing on their (Claimant’s) lease registered as 74/74/923 and sublease as 49/49/1374 as part of No. 10, Abebe Village Road, Iganmu or any part thereof pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

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The Defendants/Respondents in opposing the application relied on Counter-Affidavit with exhibits attached and written address filed on January 16, 2020 as well as reply processes filed on February 7, 2020.

They (Respondents) also filed Notice of Preliminary Objection on January 16, 2020 praying the court to strike out or dismiss the entire suit.

In his ruling , Justice Onigbanjo dismissed the Claimants’ application as an abuse of court process.

The judge premised his decision on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Suit No SC/54/2005 which affirmed the Court of Appeal decision in Suit No. CA/L/86/2018 and which in turn affirmed his (Onigbanjo’s) judgment in Suit No. LD/562/72 and CTC of which are exhibited by parties in this suit and all of which judgments affirmed the objectors as the overlords and rightful owners of all the land in Iganmu, Lagos State from time immemorial.

Justice Onigbanjo in the ruling said the Supreme Court Judgment delivered by Justice Adesola Oguntade had made it clear that the disputed Iganmu land rightly belong to the Defendants/Respondents.

But the claimant contended that the learned trial judge erred in law on so many grounds.

In their Notice of Appeal dated March 16, 2020 and filed by their counsel, A.M Makinde, SAN, the Claimants/Applicants claimed that the trial judge erred in law when he held that their action in Suit No. LD/8671/LMW/2019 was an attempt to re-litigate Suit No SC/54/2005, CA/L/86/2001 and LD/562/72 notwithstanding the fact that they or their predecessors in title were parties in Suit No SC/54/2005.

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According to them, the trial judge never made any finding or pronouncement to the effect that either them or their predecessors in title were never parties to Suit No SC/54/2005, CA/L/86/2001 and LD/562/72.

The Applicants also accused the trial judge of not making finding or pronouncement that the property registered as 74/74/923 and 49/49/1374 was litigated upon in SC/54/2005, CA/L/86/2001 and LD/562/72.

They further faulted the trial judge for making reference to Survey Plan No. AL/64A/1974 attached as Exhibit C to the Notice of Preliminary Objection, which was different from Survey Plan No. AL/64A/1974 referred to in the judgment in SC/54/2005, adding that the judgment in SC/54/2005 cannot bind them who were never parties in the suit.

According to the Applicants, Justice Onigbanjo also erred in law when he failed to determine the weightier questions of Estoppel par rem judicatam and locus standi, which were the grounds of the respondents Notice of Preliminary Objection before arriving at the conclusion that the Applicants’ suit was an abuse of court process on the ground that they were mere academic exercise.

In praying the court to set aside the ruling of Justice Onigbanjo delivered on March 10, 2020 and order trial before another judge, the applicants also prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the respondents, either by themselves or through their agents from any further acts of trespass pending the hearing and determination.

The hearing date is to be communicated to parties.

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