Disputed Land: Court Orders Adefarasin, Church to Maintain Status Quo

By Davidson Iriekpen
Justice Adebisi Akinlade of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Igbosere has restated the order restraining popular Lagos Pastor, Paul Adefarasin, and his church, House on the Rock, from taking over a land belonging to a businessman, Gerald Chukwueke.
The judge ordered that parties in the matter should stay action (status quo ante bellum) on the issue as it was before March 15, 2016, when the defendants were served with the processes in the suit, pending the hearing of the interlocutory application filed by the claimants.
Justice Akinlade had on March 17, 2016 restrained the defendants, their servants, agents or privies from demolishing or removing any structure whatsoever be they temporary or permanent on the claimants premises located at plots 15, 16, 17 and 18 located at 188 Ikate, Lekki, Lagos.
The court also barred the defendants from commencing any development, construction, building or erecting any structure whether temporary or permanent in any manner whatsoever on the land.
At the recent resumed hearing of the matter, counsel to the claimants, Moyo Onigbanjo (SAN) told the court that he had served all the defendants with the processes in the matter.
Onigbanjo also said: “The defendants have filed a counter affidavit to our motion on notice and an application to strike out the name of the first defendant has also been filed, which we have responded to.”
On his part lawyer to the 1st and 2nd defendants, Gabriel Uduafi agreed with the position of claimants’ lawyer but said he would file the statement of defence before the expiration of the 42 days allowed by the law.
Before the judge adjourned the matter, Onigbanjo urged the court to renew her earlier order restraining the defendants by directing parties to maintain status quo. The lawyer insisted that it would be in the interest of justice for the court to grant his request so that the subject matter will be preserved.
However, Uduafi opposed the application, arguing that his clients had already taken possession of the land with a valid registered title.
In a short ruling, Justice Akinlade overruled Uduafi, and ordered parties to maintain status quo pending the hearing of the interlocutory application.
The judge then adjourned the suit to June 2, 2016 for mention.
In the suit, Chukwueke, and other claimants: Chinelo Chukwueke, Mrs. Martha Chukwueke, Germaine Logistics Limited & Germaine Auto Centre Limited are seeking the sum of N800 million as damages against Adefarasin and his church for allegedly trespassing on their land located in Lekki area of the state.
The claimants, who are also seeking the sum of N180 million as solicitor fees, wants the court to bar the defendants from further trespassing on the disputed land.
Other defendants in the suit apart from Pastor Adefarasin are: the Incorporated Trustees of the Rock Foundation, the Registrar of Titles, Lagos State Land Registry and the Attorney General of Lagos State.