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Land Tussle: Appeal Court Urged To Restrain Lagos Governor From Taking Possession

By Francis Iwuchukwu, Lagos 

The Lagos division of the Court of Appeal has been urged to restrain the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode from trespassing on a piece of land belonging to a businessman, Alhaji Jamiu Irorun.

This prayer came apparently in a move to stop alleged illegal construction going on, by the Lagos State Government on his land after judgement had been delivered in his favor by a Lagos high court as the rightful owner.

Alhaji Irorun in his application before the appellate court seeking to restrain the governor from trespassing on his land, has as co-respondents to be restrained to include, the Attorney General of Lagos State and Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Authority. 

According to an affidavit sworn to accompany with affidavit of urgency by the litigation manager from the law firm of AOS Practise, Olayiwola Shoyeye, and instituted before the Court of Appeal by a Lagos lawyer, Sunday Adara, the deponent argued that a Lagos businessman, Alhaji Irorun is the owner of a parcel of land measuring 4379.581 square meters lying and situate at off Oregun Road, Ikeja, Lagos State, the subject matter of appeal filed by the Governor of  Lagos state and the other two respondents .

The Court of Appeal was informed that sometime in 2004, the respondents forcefully entered the said parcel of land, in peaceful possession of Alhaji Irorun which led to the institution of a suit in the High Court of Lagos State sitting in Ikeja, against the  Governor of Lagos State, Attorney General of Lagos, and Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Authority to seek redress. 

It would be recalled that on February 7, 2018, the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, presided over by Justice Candide-Johnson, had delivered judgment in favor of Alhaji Irorun.

As a result of this, Irorun took immediate possession of the said land and erected a sign post thereon to inform the members of the public of the said judgement in his favor to obviate any form of trespass on the said land. 

But the state government filed an appeal against the judgment through a notice of appeal dated February 8, 2018.

However, rather than pursue their appeal, the respondents allegedly took the decision to use sheer executive force to take over the said land even before the appeal they instituted was heard and determined by the Appeal court. 

According to the applicant, it was discovered on May 3, 2019 that the respondents have entered the land and have started construction activity on the said vacant open land.”

The applicant equally insisted that the respondents had continued to trespass on the land and has infringed and is continuing to infringe on his right of peaceable enjoyment of his property by intensified construction activities.  

Alhaji Irorun insisted that he would suffer irreparable damage/and loss, which cannot be adequately compensated for, if the application seeking an injunction to restrain them is not granted  

According to him, “The Applicant is ready to enter into an undertaking to pay damages if the order restraining the respondents  is made and it is later found out the order ought not to had been made. 

“There is need for this court to preserve the said land, which is the res of the appeal, else it will be destroyed even before the appeal is heard and determined.

“If the respondents are not restrained by the court, by the time the court will hear the appeal the respondents would have completely altered the nature of the land to the detriment of the Applicant as it will be impossible for him to return to the status quo if the appeal of the respondents is dismissed in his favour .”

Shoyoye averred that the respondents  are not prepared  to prosecute their appeal with the diligence that is required, as till date, the respondents have not filed their brief of argument in the appeal  court.

The matter has been adjourned until June 11, 2019 for the hearing of the application.

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