There was unrest at Magodo Phase 2 estate in Lagos, on Tuesday, when dozens of police officers and officers of the Shangisha Landlord Association invaded the estate to execute a court judgment.
According to witness accounts, the police officers and members of Shangisha Landlord Association came with bulldozers in an attempt to pull down properties within the estate.
They marked some houses in the estate with the inscription ‘ID/795/88 possession taken today 21/12/2021 by court order’.
The officials said they were acting on a Supreme Court judgment that mandated the Lagos State government to give back 549 plots to the original owners of the area, the Shangisha Landlords Association.
In reaction, Magodo residents trooped out in large numbers, locked the gate to resist the invasion of the officers.
This led to panic in the neighbourhood, which grounded vehicular and human activities.
According to the Chairman, Shangisha Landlord Association, Adebayo Adeyiga, the crisis over parcels of land in Magodo Phase 2 estate started in 1984 through 1986, when the state government “forcefully took” parcels of land belonging to the association.
Mr Adeyiga said the lands were taken under disguise with “claims that they will be used for the construction of an international standard hospital.”
“We the landlords were forcefully evicted from the land in dispute. The government went ahead to pull down all our houses, and took the entire area which was not what they had asked for in the first place.
“After pulling down of our houses, we were embarrassed to find out that the Lagos state government involved had converted the land for their personal interest, allotting the said land in plots to their friends and cronies, and some of high and mighty people in the society including some judges in the Lagos judiciary and members of the former state executives,” Mr Adeyiga said.
He added that the association approached the Lagos State government, “armed with facts of the fraudulent allotment,” and it was resolved that members would be given plots of land from the then new scheme known as Magodo scheme 2.
“It was when they failed to do so, that we were forced to sue the Lagos State government through the executive officers sometimes in June 1988 in suits ID/795/88. Chief Adebayo Adeyiga and six (6) others versus military governor of Lagos State and four(4) others in Lagos State high court, Ikeja.
“While the case was going on, the Lagos State government refused or neglected to obey the court order to maintain status quo, rather they and their cronies intensified construction activities. This forced us to apply for an interlocutory injunction which was granted by the late Justice A. L. Balogun on October 19, 1992.
“By this ruling of the courts, it was expected that the Lagos State government and the Association would respect the court of land and refrain from allotting or further development on the land, pending the determination of the substantive suit, but they refused, ” he said.
The Chairman said on May 17, 1993, the governor of Lagos State, Michael Otedola, gave an executive order for the release of our land to its owner, but this was not complied to by officials.
He said succour came when the trial court, in 1993, gave a mandatory injunction order for the state to allocate 549 plots on the land in dispute to the association.
However, the Lagos state government appealed the judgment in 1994.
Mr Adeyiga alleged that state officials attempted to eliminate him by sending thugs, who beat him with his wife, wounded and threw him down from his one-story building.
He said the action cost him permanent disability and complete damage to his eyes, adding that other members of the association were attacked.
The state government lost the appeal in the matter, as the appellate court upheld the judgment of the lower court against the state.
Dissatisfied with judgment at the appeal court, the Lagos state government took the matter to the Supreme Court, where the court also affirmed the judgment of the lower courts on February 10, 2012.
Following the judgment of the Supreme Court, Mr Adeyiga said their lawyer wrote the former Chief Judge of Lagos state, Ayotunde Phillips, on the need to sign the writ of possession to enable them execute the judgment but she refused.
“We had no choice but to petition the former Chief Justice of Nigeria and chairman of the National Judicial Council, Chief Justice Honorable Mariam Aloma Mukhtar who queried Justice Phillips concerning the matter. Surprisingly, Honorable Justice Ayotunde Phillips refused to answer the query until she retired in 2014,” he said.
Mr Adeyiga said another letter was written to Chief Judge of Lagos state, Olufunmilayo Atilade, who also refused to discharge her responsibility in the enforcement of the judgment.
“Based on all the above facts, we humbly stated that we have by all means done and exhausted what is expected of law-abiding citizens of the nation by following due process in this matter but the government of Lagos state has not deemed it necessary to obey court orders.
“On March 1, 2016, the Supreme Court sitting on the matter again voiced its displeasure over the failure of the Lagos state government and the Chief Justice of Lagos state to execute its judgment. The Lagos State Attorney General Mr. Adeniji Kassim was specifically warned of the dangers of refusing to carry out the order of the Supreme Court,” he said.
He said Mrs Atilade was ordered to sign the writ of possession for the recovery of 549 plots of land in Magodo scheme II area within a specified period and she signed on March 16, 2017.
“The process of execution of the writ had been completed by the Court Sheriff as shown in the correspondence between the Deputy Sheriff and the Police (AIG Zone 2 office) on the request for police assistance. Thereafter the writ was assigned by the Deputy Sheriff to the Sheriff’s for execution.”
Mr Adeyiga said a date was fixed by all parties involved for the execution, only for the writ to be withdrawn by one Mr Ojo of the Execution Department on the instructions of Mrs Atilade.
The Chairman said they wrote another petition to the NJC on how Mrs Atilade and the state attorney-general, Mr Kassim, were frustrating the process of execution of the writ.
“Our fears were later confirmed when a ruling to set aside the execution of the writ was given by Honorable Justice R. Adebiyi even though the association was not served with any process on the case.
“The Association forwarded another petition to the NJC against the Justice Raliatu Adebiyi for setting aside the writ of possession which was sign by the retired Honorable justice Olufunmilayo Atilade on the directive of the NJC and which had been assigned by the Sheriff for execution.”
Mr Adeyiga said after the tussle which lasted for over 37 years, the association resolved to execute the Supreme court’s judgement which is the final court.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Gbenga Omotosho, the commissioner for information in the state, he said the state is aware of the judgment.
“Why will we not be aware, we are a party to the case,” he said.
Efforts to reach the Magodo Residents’ Association on the matter were unsuccessful.
Nosa Ebomoyi, an executive in the residents’ association, said he would refer this reporter to the spokesperson of the association. He was unable to do so as of the time of filing this report.
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