Lagos communities battle developers, others over land ownership
About ten communities in Ilupejun, Awoyaya in Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos State have commenced legal action against Lekki Gardens Estate Limited, Skye Trustees Limited, and some elders in the communities over the ownership of a land measuring about 200.184 hectares.
The battle for the land resonated after about 800 houses and properties in the area were demolished by alleged agents of Skye Trustees Limited, formerly known as EIB Trustees Limited and Lekki Gardens Limited.
Some elders of the community, namely, Alhaji Mutiu Musa, Chief Tunde Zaidi, Mr. Mufutau Sokoto, Mr. Tolani Bakare and Chief Muritala Tijani had previously sued in a representative capacity of Abule Parapo, community over the purported acquisition of Awoyaya land by the Lagos State government and secured a favourable judgment against the defendants.
The defendants were the Lagos State Government, the Attorney General of the State and Commissioner of Justice, the Executive Secretary, Land Use and Allocation Committee and the General, Manager, New Towns Development Authority, Lagos.
But upon the intervention of the then Governor of Lagos State, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the matter was resolved and terms of settlement drawn as a consent judgment between the parties, Skye Trustees Limited and Lekki Gardens Estate Limited, who were allotted the land.
Part of the terms of agreement included the payment of the sum of N500 million to the communities through the claimants.
However, a new twist unfolded when the communities took possession of their land on the ground that the six elders, who were purportedly acting for them were not representing their interest and thereby could not abide by the said terms of settlement.
But acting on the ground of the consent judgment, the allottees enforced the judgment and demolished properties in the area including about 800 houses and properties at Glorious Villa Estate.
Subsequently, the landlords under the aegis of Glorious Villa Estate Community Development Association filed a lawsuit against Skye Trustees Limited and Lekki Gardens seeking the recovery of their land.
In the suit filed at the Lagos High Court, Epe division, the communities led by Chief Olawale Michael Oseni Asogun, who is the Baale of Ilupejudun community are seeking for an interlocutory injunction against the defendants as well as the sum of N10 billion as compensation for trespassing, illegal demolition and malicious damage of their properties.
Other plaintiffs in the suit marked EPD/5089/15, include Ilesanbnmi, Arashi Anofi, Mondiu Raji Momodu, who are suing for themselves and as representatives of all the seven villages collectively known as Ilupejun Communities in Awoyaya, Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos state.
The plaintiffs also include, Mrs. Bosemang Moji Ikolede, Mrs. Veronica Emokpae, Kareem Ishola Tinubu, NIKFEDCO Properties and Real Estate Limited, Michael Ifeanyi and Abdul Oladimeji, who are suing for them and as accredited representatives of the affected communities.
They named Alhaji Mutiu Musa, Chief Tunde Zaidi, Mr. Mufutau Sokoto, Mr. Tolani Bakare, Chief Muritala Tijani, Skye Trustees Limited, formerly EIB Trustees Limited and Lekki Gardens Estate Limited as defendants.
In the affidavit attached to the suit, Chief Asogun, who is the Baale of Ilupejudun averred that that community is not aware of the persons who represented them and received the sum of N50 million from the bank for compensation of a 200,184 hectares of land.”
Already, Justice Abisoye Bashua of Lagos High Court, Epe division has granted the
communities an interim injunction against Lekki Gardens, Skye Trustees Limited and others.
The judge also restrained the defendants, their agents, servants, privies and all persons claiming on their behalf from entering, remaining on the land from demolishing and continuing any demolishing the property pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.
Further hearing on the matter is to be communicated to the parties.
In a similar case filed at the Lagos high Court, Ikeja, the plaintiffs are asking for an order revoking the statutory right of occupancy and other rights particulars and interest, granted Skye Trustees Limited, the first defendant vide certificate of occupancy N0: 19/19/2003D dated December , 2002.
They also want alternative order of court compelling the defendants to pay the sum of N500 million to the claimants being the cost of clearing the 50 hectares of land.
The originating summon was predicated on five grounds, which include that an executed terms of settlement in a suit is a binding contract between the parties, and when entered as the judgment of court in the matter, it becomes the court’s judgment, hence absolute and binding on the agreeing parties until set aside.
They had argued that their clients acquired the disputed land legally, and that the bank’s encroachment contravenes Section 28,6 of the Land Use Act of 1978.
But the defence has denied any wrong doing on the matter stressing that they have met all legal obligation to the communities.
They also urged the court to dismiss the suit.
Hearing date on the matter was to be communicated to parties as the court did not sit on Thursday.
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