The Committee of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) to look into the complaint of a lawyer, M.O. Ubani (Esq.), published on social media on the 31st December 2020, (read here) in respect of land situate at 1, Folorunsho Kuku Street, Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos, has submitted its final report.
In order to investigate all claims, the Committee invited all the parties involved to its sitting which commenced on 4th January until 1st of February, 2021, to ascertain the identity of the land upon which enforcement was carried out and determine the present legal status of ownership as well as the level of involvement of the State Government Agencies.
It was established that the Lagos State Special Task Force on Land Grabbers (LSSTF) took its action based on the petition received from Messrs. Millan Solicitors, on behalf of the Meadows family, to eject the occupants of the land in contention, which harbours shanties, mechanics and miscreants.
The petitioners tendered copies of judgements obtained from various courts (High Court – Suit No. LD/513/80. Court of Appeal – Appeal No. CA/1/92 and the Supreme Court – SC/146/1995) and other documents showing their title to the land to substantiate their position.
Consequently, the Coordinator of the Lagos Task Force confirmed the authenticity of all documents presented by the petitioner and obtained approval to embark on the enforcement, in conjunction with other government agencies whose representatives were part of the Committee set up to establish facts of the matter – Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Ministry of Transportation and Office of the Surveyor-General, Lagos State.
Before finally embarking on the enforcement, steps were taken in compliance with the relevant laws guiding removal of vehicles of the mechanics illegally operating on the land; removal of the shanties and ejection of the hoodlums from the site.
The Committee members conducted a physical inspection of the land on 4th January 2020 and established that despite the demolition carried out by the Special Operations Unit, the site was still occupied by hoodlums who threatened violence and insisted that they should be left to reside at the location.
The Meadows Family (the Petitioner) was also invited to the Committee and it was established that after the execution of the judgement of the High Court of Lagos State, some mechanics and miscreants dislodged them from the land and all efforts to remove the trespassers had proved abortive until the petition to the Lagos State Special Task Force.
The Committee also ascertained that the Ex Parte Order submitted by Mr. Ubani was in the name of Circle Nigeria Limited but the C of O attached thereto in the name of Kayode Owoseye Akingbade – two different entities.
Ubani did not also provide any document to justify that the land belongs to Circle Nigeria Limited.
The findings of the Committee also indicated that:
· All the Survey Plans from both the Meadows family and that of Mr. Ubani’s Client revealed that the subject land falls within the Meadows’ family land; and that
· The land on which enforcement was carried out by the LSSTF falls within the parcel of land for which Meadows family obtained judgement in their favour in Suit No. LG/513/80.
The social media publication made by Mr. Ubani was to get public sympathy and blackmail the Government and its Agencies from carrying out their legal functions. The claim of Mr. Ubani cannot be substantiated with cogent facts.
Lagosians are assured that no illegal takeover of property will be allowed by the government, which will always be committed to the rule of law. The Special Task Force on Land Grabbers Law will be strengthened to grant the body power to remove trespassers from any land and put the rightful owner in possession of the property.
HC, Information & Strategy