By Babajide Okeowo
The Lagos State Government has revealed how the action of Adebayo Adeyiga (one of the Judgment Creditors) in the Magodo Land Dispute misled the Nigeria Police in attempting execution of the judgment, notwithstanding the pending appeal against the issuance of the warrant of possession by the then Chief Judge of Lagos State, on March 16, 2017.
Consequently, the Lagos State Government has waded into the Magodo land dispute, saying
Reacting to the development on behalf of the state government, Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, in a statement, yesterday, condemned the act by Adeyiga’s family and called for due process to be followed as the matter is still pending in the 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 and Adebayo 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 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.”
“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 have 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 majority of the Judgment Creditors led by Yemi Ogunshola, Jelili Yaya and Adeleke Adefala accepted the offer.
Speaking in like manner, some original landowners have described the recent execution of Supreme Court judgment in the highbrow Magodo/Shangisha area of Lagos State as illegal.
A statement by their lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, said the illegal execution was in respect of the judgment in suit number ID/795/1988 between the military governor of Lagos State and others and one Adebayo Adeyiga that is still pending before the Court of Appeal, Lagos State.
He said that following the Supreme Court judgment, the judgment creditors engaged the Lagos State government to find an amicable settlement in line with the direction of the apex court and were about to reach an agreement when the illegal execution was carried out.
“Surprisingly, one Adebayo Adeyiga without the consent of our clients, initiated the process of execution of the Supreme Court judgment at the Lagos High Court by applying and causing to be issued, (Warrant of Possession) and Warrant of Execution Forms dated November 19, 2015, purportedly on behalf of all the 549 Judgment Creditors.”
According to Ayorinde, upon discovery of the steps taken by the said Adebayo Adeyiga, his law firm in an application dated August 1, 2016, on behalf of all the other judgment creditors urged the court to set aside the Warrant of Possession/ Warrant of Execution forms dated November 19, 2015.
He stated that, while the said application was still pending before Justice Adebiyi of the High Court of Lagos State, the said Adeyiga, allegedly caused the then Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Funmilayo Atilade to issue the Warrant of Possession/ Execution Form dated March 16, 2017.
Recall that on December 21, 2021, vehicular and human movements were paralyzed in Magodo Estate, Shangisha area of the state, as residents barricaded all entrances to the estate over planned forceful possession and possible demolition of property by members of a family, who claimed to be original owner of the land.
Also, stern-looking policemen took over the Magodo Area of the state in 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 to the court bailiffs to carry out the order.