By Babajide Okeowo
Following a Supreme Court judgment which mandated Lagos State government to give back 549 plots to the original owners of the area, before it was “fraudulently acquired over 38 year ago” there is panic and anxiety as landlords and residents of the highbrow Magodo area of Lagos metropolis.
Stern-looking anti-riot policemen were stationed in strategic areas within the highbrow area, more than 1,000 youths, apparently recruited by the Shangisha Landlords Association, were moving from house to house making known the possession.
The inscription on each house indicated that the court had given them possession of the land on which the houses were built.
The police stormed the area at about 2.30p.m. on Tuesday, to maintain law and order while marking of the houses by a court bailiff was ongoing.
At the time of filing this report, confusion and panic pervaded the whole area.
Many of the landlords said they bought their land from Lagos State government, adding that they were not aware of litigation on the land when they bought the land for which they were given a certificate of occupancy.
Recall that the military government of the state acquired the area for public use.
But later it was sold to government officials and their associates, which made the original owners through Shangisha Landlords Association approach the high court for redress.
The court then ruled that both parties should maintain the status quo in the area; that is both parties should vacate the land until final determination of the case.
But in disregard of the court order, the state government continued to sell the land.
The high court eventually, in its final judgment, ordered the state government to give the Association and its members 549 plots of land as a matter of first priority.
Dissatisfied with the high court judgment, the government approached the Appeal Court which affirmed the judgment of the lower court on the matter.
It ordered that Lagos state should, as a matter of first priority, give back 549 plots of land to the original land owners in the Association of Shangisha landlords.
The matter went on to the Supreme Court, which also affirmed the judgment of lower courts.
The Supreme Court judgment was handed down six years ago, but the Lagos State government refused to execute the judgment.