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Magodo Land Dispute: Judgment creditors misled Police — Lagos govt

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The Lagos State Government has waded into the Magodo land dispute, saying the action of Chief Adebayo Adeyiga (one of the Judgment Creditors) misled the Nigeria Police in attempting execution of the Judgment notwithstanding the pending appeal against the issuance of a warrant of possession by the then Chief Judge of Lagos State on March 16, 2017.

Recall that on Wednesday,  December 21, 2021, vehicular and human movements were paralyzed in Magodo Estate, Shangisha area of Lagos State as residents barricaded all entrances to the estate over planned forceful possession and possible demolition of properties by members of a family who claimed to be the original owner of the land.

Also, stern-looking Policemen took over the Magodo Area of Lagos State in the purported execution of a Supreme Court judgment.

However, respite came later when a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Kantagora acting on the order of IGP, arrived at the scene and announced the withdrawal of the police officers attached with the court bailiffs to carry out the order.

The officers, who came in the company of court bailiffs on Tuesday to mark the affected houses camped at Magodo Police Post to embark on eviction and demolition exercises were subsequently dislodged by ACP Kontagora who order their withdrawal out of the area around 11 am.

Consequently, the two main entrances to the estate were thrown open following the assurance by the ACP who said the Inspector General of Police, IGP has ordered the withdrawal of the policemen with the bailiffs and called for maintenance of peace and tranquility, in the spirit of yuletide.

Reacting to the development on behalf of the state government, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice

Ministry of Justice, Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo, in a statement on Thursday, condemned the act by Adeyiga’s family and called for due process to be followed as the matter is still pending on Appeal Court.

Onigbanjo made the clarification in the statement, titled: “Illegal enforcement of judgment by Shangisha Landlords  Association ONR SC/112/2002 between military Governor of Lagos State  sand Chief Afebayo Adeyiga and ORS.”

The statement read in part: “It is a known fact that judgment was delivered in 2012 by the Supreme Court in Military Governor of Lagos State & Ors. Vs. Adebayo Adeyiga & Ors in Appeal No: SC/112/2002 wherein the Apex court affirmed the judgment of Court of Appeal and High Court delivered on the 31st December 1993 in Suit No: ID/795/88 wherein the Court held as follows: “I hereby enter judgment for the plaintiffs against the defendants as follows -A declaration that members of the Shangisha Landlords Association whose lands and or buildings at Shangisha village were demolished by the Lagos State Government and/or its servants or agents during the period of June 1984 to May 1985 are entitled to the first choice preferential treatment by the Lagos State Government before any other person(s) in the allocation or re-allocation of plots in Shangisha village and I make the order against the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants (particularly the Lagos State Government and Land Use and Allocation committee) as agreed in the meeting held on 16th October 1984 with the Ministry of Lands and Housing and Development Matters, Lagos State.

“An order of Mandatory Injunction is hereby made that the said defendants shall forthwith allocate 549 (five hundred and forty-nine) plots to the plaintiffs in the said Shangisha village scheme in the Shangisha village aforesaid.”

“It is obvious from the declaratory judgment of the Supreme Court that the judgment only recognized the Judgment Creditors as being entitled to first choice preferential treatment in the “allocation and or re-allocation of plots in Shangisha Village”. The judgment only relates to allocation of 549 plots of land and not possession of any land.

“Several attempts by the State Government to resolve the matter amicably have been on even before the judgment of the Supreme Court was delivered. It is therefore not surprising that the Supreme Court held on page 27 of the judgment thus;

“..This Court appreciates the magnanimity of the Lagos State Government in the proposals to effect an amicable settlement of this matter. The ball is now in the court of the counsel to the respondents who has a statutory duty to advise them properly to give the government their maximum co-operation in the execution of this judgment.

“The State Government engaged the Judgment Creditors between 2012 – 2015 and made proposal to re-allocate land to the Judgment Creditors at Magotho Residential Scheme within Badagry Area which was rejected by Chief Adebayo Adeyiga but the majority of the Judgment Creditors led by Yemi Ogunshola, Jelili Yaya and Adeleke Adefala accepted the offer.

“Due to division within the Judgment Creditors, another round of settlement was initiated in 2016 which culminated in the proposal to re-allocate the Judgment Creditors to Ibeju Lekki Coastal Scheme situate at Ibeju/Lekki which was also rejected by Chief Adebayo Adeyiga.

“Subsequent to the rejection, the State Government has been in dialogue with majority of the Judgment Creditors from 2019 with a view to reach a concession towards implementing the Judgment.

“Noteworthy also is the pending application for interlocutory injunction dated 1st December 2020 before the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/L/1005A/2018 seeking an order restraining Chief Adebayo Adeyiga and others (including their agents, servants privies or howsoever called, particularly the Police) from entering into, giving direction, taking possession, or in any manner disturbing the quiet enjoyment of property owners in Magodo Residential Area Scheme.

“The Lagos State Government has equally observed that the execution was carried out by unknown Bailiffs as the Sherriff of the High Court of Lagos where the Judgment emanated were not responsible for the purported execution carried out on the 21st December 2021 at Magodo.

“The purported execution is therefore contrary to Order 8 Rule 17 of the Supreme Court Rules 2014 and Section 37 of the Enforcement of Judgment and Orders Part iii of the Sherriff and Civil Process Act, LFN, 2004.

“The Judgment before the Supreme Court was not in respect of declaration of title and the Supreme Court did not in any way grant title to land to the Judgment Creditors.

” The Judgment Creditors had no claim for possession and none was granted as no survey plan was tendered before the Court. The judgment is not affixed to any land anywhere and only declared that the Judgment Creditors are entitled to allocation of land from the State Government.

“The State Government is therefore dismayed by the action of Chief Adebayo Adeyiga (one of the Judgment Creditors) who misled the Nigeria Police in attempting execution of the Judgment notwithstanding the pending Appeal against the issuance of warrant of possession by the then Chief Judge of Lagos State on 16th March 2017.”

The state government, therefore, urged the general public to remain calm especially the Magodo Residential Association, while investigation into the “unwarranted” incident is being carried out with a view to prosecuting any person found culpable.

“The Lagos State Government has the high regard for the rule of law and will protect the interests of all parties,”  Onigbanjo stated.

 

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About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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