By Babajide Okeowo
The Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo has revealed the plans of the state’s government to investigate all those responsible for the recent invasion of Magodo Phase II Estate with a view to prosecuting anyone found culpable.
According to a statement issued on Thursday, Onigbanjo called on the residents of the estate and members of the public to remain calm.
He said the government was concerned that the landowners, under the Shangisha Landlord Association led by one Chief Adebayo Adeyiga, misled the Nigeria Police in an attempt to execute a judgment of the Supreme Court, notwithstanding the pending appeal against the issuance of warrant of possession by the then Chief Judge of Lagos State on March 16, 2017.
Onigbanjo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, insisted that the judgment of 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.
He maintained that the judgment creditors had no claim for possession, and none was granted as no survey plan was tendered before the court.
The AG also said that the judgment was not affixed to any land anywhere and only declared that the judgment creditors were entitled to allocation of land from the state government.
“Several attempts by the state government to resolve the matter amicably have been on even before the judgment of the Supreme Court was delivered,” he stated. “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 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 a proposal to re-allocate land to the judgment creditors at Magodo Residential Scheme within Badagry area which was rejected by Chief Adebayo Adeyiga, but a 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, Onigbanjo explained that the state government got engaged in dialogue with the majority of the judgment creditors from 2019 with a view to reaching a concession towards implementing the judgment.
“On the 21st of December, 2021, it was reported through social media platforms that the Shangisha Landlords Association with stern-looking policemen took over Magodo Area of Lagos State in the purported execution of a Supreme Court judegment.
“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 of 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.”
According to the AG, it is obvious from the declaratory judgment of the Supreme Court that the judgment only recognised the judgment creditors as being entitled to first choice preferential treatment in the ‘allocation and or re-allocation of plots in Shangisha Village’.
He added that the judgment only related to the allocation of 549 plots of land and not the possession of any land.
“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 commissioner said.
“The Lagos State government has equally observed that the execution was carried out by unknown bailiffs as the sheriff of the High Court of Lagos where the judgment emanated was 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.”