The Chief Judge of Lagos State recently gave the Landlords Association of Shangisha, Lagos authorisation to enforce a 2012 judgement of the Supreme Court in its favour, after a long-drawn legal battle with the Lagos State Government over a prime piece of land consisting 549 plots. Now, the Landlords are asking everybody who did not buy land from them to rectify their purchase with them. Bennett Oghifo reports
The Shangisha landlords, the original owners of the land in the Shangisha Village Scheme, later called Magodo Scheme II in Kosofe, acquired by the Lagos State Government for overriding public interest, wanted their land back and had a long-drawn legal battle with the government, which began in 1988 and ended at the Supreme Court in their favour on February 10, 2012. They eventually got a warrant of execution of the Supreme Court judgement dated 16th March 2017 and are set to enforce.
The Landlords Association of Shangisha, Lagos, actually considered using violence to evict all the occupants of the land for which the Supreme Court gave them judgement over the Lagos State Government but they have now resolved to give everybody who did not buy land from them to rectify ownership of such land with them.
It is a fair deal and the only way out, said the Landlords Association of Shangisha, recently, in a press statement signed by its Chairman, Chief Adebayo Adeyiga. â€œThe only way out is for the Judgment debtors and their agent/privies i.e the Magodo Residents Association (MRA) to reach the Landlord Association of Shangisha/Magodo (Judgment creditors) to enable them rectify their title with the Judgment creditors or in the alternative let them concede all the unoccupied parcel of land and landed properties to meet the judgment land of 549 plots.â€
When talk broke of violent takeover of their property, after the Chief Judge of Lagos State signed the Possession Order, the Magodo Residents Association (MRA) called a press conference to say they had approached a High Court in Lagos to set aside the warrant of possession issued by the Chief Judge of Lagos State in execution of a judgement of the Supreme Court in favour of the Shangisha Landlords Association, led by Chief Adebayo Adeyiga.
The Chairman of MRA, Mr. Kunle Eludire, at the press conference at the Estate Secretariat, had claimed the Shangisha Landlords Association was set to enforce it by invading the homes of residents of Magodo.
Eludire also appealed to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, the Inspector General of Police, Director of State Security, among others, to intervene to prevent what, he noted, would end in mayhem.
The Shangisha Landlords association said â€œIt is unfortunate
that the judgment debtors have suggested
allocation of alternative land which does not seem to be reasonable and contrary to the judgment of the SCN (Supreme Court of Nigeria) which decided only on the said Shangisha village scheme land now known as Magodo Scheme II aforesaid.
How can the Lagos State Government (Judgment Debtors) suggests that the Judgment creditors should allow their illegal benefactors/trespassers/contemnors who claimed to be members of the Magodo Residents Association (MRA), who build their houses in contempt of the interlocutory order granted by the court of competent jurisdiction to remain on the adjudged land while the Judgment Creditors who ought to be entitled to the fruit of their judgment, are advised to vacate the said land for another alternative land which they must have deceptively collected from other families/community in the name of overriding public interest. It is like saying, that the owner of a stolen goat be forced to leave the goat for the thief because the latter is rich and he is a prince of an affluent king.â€
Attempts at alternative resolution…
The Shangisha Landlords Association said they tried to resolve the matter with the government and that â€œthere was no meeting or negotiation between us and Lagos State Government or its Agents since the National Judicial Council directed the Chief Justice of Lagos State (Hon. Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade) to give us authority to possess the Magodo Scheme II land through her writ of possession of 16th March 2017, which the Lagos State Government prevented her from signing for over five years. That shows how Lagos has relegated the rule of law and ridiculed the judgment /orders of the Supreme Court of Nigeria with ignominy.
â€œWe are on the side of the rule of law. Whatever action the Lagos State Government is taking to prevent the execution of the judgment is tantamount to obstruction and perversion of Justice and that will be addressed by the authorities concerned.â€
The Landlords said, â€œNot minding our victory (Supreme Court), we tried all methods known in conflict resolution, including auditing the remaining lands, having several meetings with one time Attorney General and Solicitor General (Mr. Ade Ipaye and Mr. Lawal Pedro) all to no avail. They said the Scheme is not designed for poor people, the Supreme Court of Nigeria lambasted, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem and warned against the refusal of Lagos State Government to comply with the judgment/order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
â€œOn June 2nd 2016, the A-G Lagos State on behalf of the Judgment Creditors; invited us to a meeting where we gave him memorandum for settlement, he just slept over it. Instead the Lagos State Government organized two groups of people to do everything to destroy the writ of possession as ordered by the NJC.
â€œIn August 2016, we wrote Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to step into the matter, copying Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akinolu (Oba in Council).â€
â€œTherefore anybody who is now working against the writ of possession and execution of the judgment is obstructing the rule of law of Nigeria.â€
Facts of the Case…
The Shangisha Landlords stated their case in their statement titled, â€˜The Position of Shangisha Landlords Association in Re: Suit No 1d795/88 Adebayo Adeyiga & 6 Others Vs Military Governor of Lagos State & 4 Othersâ€™.
They said, â€œThe case ID/795/88 was instituted on June 1988 by
the Shangisha Landlords’ Association, led by Chief Adebayo Adeyiga & 6 others who were authorized by an order of the trial court made by Hon. Justice W. A. Oshodi for the said chairman and 6 other members to do their case in representative capacity on behalf of all other members. Our Solicitor, (Barr. H. A. Ogiren) who is in charge of the enforcement told us and we verily believed him that; the said order made since 21/11/1988 has not been set aside and such it remains sacrosanct. And no other persons can be seen to be negotiating with the judgment debtors outside the said order.
He further said that the judgment against Lagos State Government is binding on all persons particularly the members of the MRA who were aware of this case while it was on appeal but decided to buy the said land/piece of litigation contrary to the principle of Les Pendis and as privy to the case derived their title from the said judgment debtors. He submitted with chronicles of SCN authorities that these persons must be treated like the judgment debtors as one and the same persons.
â€œOn 19th October 1992 the trail court granted an interlocutory injunctive order by Hon Justice A.L.A.L Balogun (of blessed memory) restraining the Lagos State Government and their servants, privies and assigns (now judgment debtors) from doing anything on the said land pending the final determination of the said case. Contrary to the said order the Lagos State Government continues to sell, allocate and were doing everything they like on the land which explain the presence of some trespassers/contemnors who claimed to be members of the Magodo Residents Association (MRA).
â€œOn Dec 31 1993, a mandatory Judgment was given by the trial judge Hon. Justice A.L.A.L Balogun to the effects that the Shangisha Landlords’ Association should be allocated, 549 plots in Shangisha/Magodo Scheme II. This allocation should be on first choice preferential allocation, if possible to the original plot of each member. This made the judgment creditors to be entitled to 549 plots of land at the said Shangisha village Scheme now known as Magodo Scheme II aforesaid.
â€œOn March 16 1994, Hon. Rosaline Omotosho gave an order of barring the parties as well as their agents, privies, servants or assigns, from going on the said land. She declared all allocations and all certificate of occupancies that have been issued on the land, illegal, null, void and barred the Lagos State Government from issuing further instruments in respect of all the land now known as Magodo Scheme II. She expressed her displeasure over wanton disobedience of rule of law by Lagos State government, civil servants and other executive officers of the state.â€
They said â€œOn October 9 1999 Justice Hon. Akinola Aguda at his tribunal sitting on visiting Magodo with the land officials, Justice Ministry Officials and the members of the Shangisha Landlords’ Association warned the land developers in Shangisha/Magodo Scheme II and Ikosi Q.R.A to stop development until the matter would be disposed of at the Appellate Courts.
â€œThe Judgment Debtors instead of complying with the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in this case rather they started arresting members of Shangisha Landlords’ Association with police and touts and sometimes macheting our members. The Chairman of our Association (Chief Adebayo Adeyiga) was thrown from his Storey building home, beating him to a state of coma and his right eye pluck out with the barrel of their assailant gun and reduced the one time handsome man to a disabled, while his biological father who was living with him was beaten to death, this made his beloved wife to run away from him and deserted her sweet matrimonial home to be living abroad like an outcast.â€
According to the Landlords, â€œThe Supreme Court (the Oracle) has spoken and the National Judicial Council has capped it all. Governor Akinwumi Ambode and his Attorney General should be advised to leave the police alone to carry out their constitutional duties.â€