Lagos community seeks N18b damages for displacement, demolition
Residents and property owners at Foweseje Community, Lakowe, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos State, who were displaced by a firm claiming ownership of the community land are seeking legal and judicial reprieve to the tune of N16 billion at Lagos High Court, Epe.
The displaced residents will on the resumed hearing of the matter slated for October 16, 2019 be asking for legal and judicial reliefs for alleged violation of court order and illegal demolition of their over 600 houses in the community by alleged agents of Toll System Development Co. Limited, a subsidiary of ARM Investment Company Limited.
The Community through their Development Association (CDA) Chairman, Ajenifuwa Victor and Secretary, Akpowenre Okiemute, alleged that there were already joining issues with the firm on the land before the demolition of their property, wondering why the defendants in the case have taken the laws into their hand in defiant to court order.
According to them, it has been a long drawn legal tussle between the community and the organization as far back as 2011 and the case was recently transferred to Epe High Court and scheduled for June 26, 2019, before the firm allegedly invaded the community with thugs to demolish houses.
“Despite all the court proceedings which lawyers of the organization attended all through and despite the fact that the Judge had earlier ruled that all parties should maintain status quo pending the determination of the case, it also granted an accelerated hearing in the case. They invaded and demolish our buildings”, they said.
The complainants in the suit marked N0.ID/794/2011 and filed before Justice Muftau Olokoba are seeking an order returning their lands to them as original owners and payment of compensation for damages done to their properties where over 600 buildings were demolished contrary to an earlier court order restraining both parties to stay action pending the determination of the case.
In their statement of claim, Chief Nojeem Fatai Arimi Ojomu , Adisa Fatai Ojomu and seven others who are claimants in the case alleged that the defendant is acting in concert with the defendants powerful connection and instruments of ARM Investment Company Limited and entered into Fowoseje village and bulldozed their buildings /properties and traditional enclaves and economic tree of the claimants without any court order or order or judgment.
The claimants said the defendants used their powerful connections and continued to terrorize the residents them thereby subjecting them to continuous agony and threatening through their officials to come and demolish the entire Fowoseje village and the building that were still on the land.
The claimants averred that the conducts of the defendants have inflicted adverse, untold and unimaginable trauma, hardship and misery on the claimants and other landowners and occupiers of Fowoseje village land.
Also, the Bale of Fowoseje Chief Nojeem Fatai Ojomu in his letter signed on January 17, 2012 to the Chairman Adhoc Committee, titled Fowoseje Land Matter and addressed to the House of Assembly Complex, Governor’s office, Alausa had appealed to the state to release their land to them so as to continue living on their ancestral land.
According to him, “ Fowoseje was and has never been seen as a controversial land, therefore it belongs exclusively to us and our family as an estate of inheritance. We and our family are customary owners of Fowoseje village, and the land through our ancestors, have been exercising a diverse and undisturbed act of ownership including cultivating some portion of the land without any challenge from anybody.
“Due to our friendliness and unalloyed accommodation to strangers, we have in the past assigned a large portion of our land to various people who have built houses on their respective land. And they are living in there with their families. “Therefore, we are the customary owners of Fowoseje village and at no time we diverted our title and our ancestor’s home or land known as Fowoseje Village to anyone or group.
“To our surprise, we discovered that one Toll System Development Company Limited which is a subsidiary of A.R.M. Investment Limited, floated by some ‘powerful individuals’ invaded our land.
“Consequently, upon this, we discovered that Toll System Development Company has been offering/selling our land at Foweseje Village as much as N3, 300,000 per 450 square meters per plot.“As if that is not enough, on October 9, 2010 the Toll System Development Company Limited with the powerful connections and instrumentality of ARM entered into our land and bulldozed buildings/properties and traditional edifices and all our means of livelihood.
But in defense, Toll system Development Company Limited, the second defendant, stated that the demolition is in line with the order of court granted them by the court in July 2015 in suit N0 LD/4329/2014.
In the suit, which has an unknown person as defendant, Justice Olokoba had upon reading the claimant’s originating summon, and accompanying affidavit and written address, ordered that the firm do recover possession of the parcel of land measuring 1.561.20 hectares covered by a certificate of occupancy, registered as N0 17 Page 17 in Vol. 2003T situate at Lakowe Village, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos state.
However, the residents of the community wondered how they could have been classified as an unknown person in 2014 when they had joined issues with parties since 2011. They also expressed worries how a company that was registered in 2003 with a C of O the same year claim ownership of the land that had been long in existence and was excised to the community as contained in page 125 of the notice of excised land in the Lagos state official Gazette N0 26, Ikeja dated October 20, 2005.
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