Fault ongoing police construction on disputed land despite valid court orders
Urge AIG Zone 2 to intervene
By Daniel Anokwuru
Scores of residents of the three communities demolished in Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State are still eating the bread of sorrow. They are yet to get back their land after they were sacked from their ancestral homes on December 16 and 17, 2013, by agents of the Lagos State government working in conjunction with the Nigeria Police. The affected communities include Atiporome, Araromi Ale and Muwo Phase II.
The police claim that the demolition of the communities was to pave way for the Police Cooperative Housing Scheme of the Lagos State Police Command.
The matter has been a subject of litigation at the Badagry High Court. The court ordered the parties in the dispute to stay away from the land pending the determination of the case but residents of the affected communities have alleged that the police establishment, which is the direct beneficiary of the proposed project, has disregarded court orders restraining all the parties and continued with the construction of the housing project.
In their latest move, the victims have petitioned the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Zone 2, Onikan, Mr. Abdulmajid Ali, reminding him that the continued presence of the police on the land was against court orders restraining all parties, pending the determination of the case at the Badagry High Court.
The victims have consistently condemned the demolition of their communities, insisting that the land allotted to the police was at Agemowe/Agelado a long way from their own communities, as indicated in the certificate of occupancy and survey plan the police had.
The certificate of occupancy, dated January 7, 2009, by the Lagos State government to the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command, made available to Daily Sun, read in part: “Agemowo/Agelado Village, Mowo, Badagry Area of Lagos State, is hereby issued by the Governor of Lagos State of Nigeria to the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command, and has been registered as Number 33 at page 33 in Volume 2009 of the Lagos State of Nigeria Lands Registry Office Ikeja.”
The victims maintained that they registered their communities properly, and never was any part of the demolished communities called Agemowo or Agelado. The certificate of registration issued by the Lagos State Government, Ministry of Rural Development, Community Development Department, dated October 21, 2013, “Certificate of Registration for Community Development Association, read: “This is to certify that Atiporome Phase II C. D. A. (Olorunda L.C.D.A., has completed all documentations and fulfilled the necessary conditions required for the registration in accordance with the Lagos State Community Development Association Law C 37 of 2008.”
Chairman of the demolished communities, Chief Charles Adu, said they were grieved because those who were supposed to obey the law were the ones undermining it. He said there was a ruling delivered by Hon. Justice Y. A. Adesanya (Mrs.), in the High Court of Lagos State, in the Badagry Judicial Division on June 9, 2014, restraining all parties to keep off the land but the police had consistently shunned the order.
The order noted that: “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining all the parties herein i.e. the claimants, defendants and counter-claimants whether by themselves, their servants, agents, officers, privies and others acting in their stand, from erecting or constructing a fence or building on that large expanse of land measuring 64.429 hectares situate, lying and being at Mowo via Badagry Lagos State covered by Survey Plan No: LS/D/BG/749 dated 25/09/08 and delineated with Beacon No: G. 14484; G. 14486; G.14487; G.14488; G. 14489; G. 14490; G. 14491; G. 14492; G. 14493; prepared by B. O. Kayode, Chief Surveyor, pending the hearing of the substantive suit.”
Chief Adu said there was another order delivered on February 26, 2015, by Hon. Justice M. A. Dada (Mrs.) of Lagos State High Court that anybody found working on the controversial land should be imprisoned but the police had completed and painted most of the building on the said land without regard for any of the court orders. The order also made available to Daily Sun also read: “In the High Court of Lagos State holden at Court No. 17, General Civil, Badagry Division, before the Hon. Justice M. A. Dada (Mrs.), application brought pursuant to Order 39 Rule 1 of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules Section 12 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Acts and under the inherent jurisdiction of the honourable court. Upon this motion on notice coming before this honourable court and after reading the affidavit in support of Chief Charles Adu, sworn to and filled at the High Court Registry on the 17th day of September 2014. After hearing Mr. Anthony Ikediashi of counsel for the 17th to 36th Defendants/Applicants, move in support of the application and there is no objection. The court ordered as follows: That leave be stayed and is hereby granted the 17th to 36th Defendants/Applicants. That the 6th to 8th Defendants, their servants, privies and or any person or persons found working on the land in dispute to be imprisoned for their continuing flagrant disobedience of the Court Order made on the 9th June 2014.”
Counsel to the victims, Mr Kingsley Izimah, of Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa Chambers, lamented that the Nigeria Police, established by Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and empowered by Section 4 of the Police Act to protect lives and property of the citizens of Nigeria, should not be seen or used as agency to violate or disobey the orders of constituted authority to the detriment of the masses.
In a petition dated September 29, titled “Flagrant Disobedience of Court Order,” the lawyer noted that “there is a continuous on-going construction project on the said land in dispute, despite subsisting order of the honourable court of Lagos State issued by Hon. Justice M. A. Dada (Mrs.) on the 26th day of February, 2015, directing that any person or persons found working on the land in dispute be imprisoned for their continuing flagrant disobedience of the order made on the 9th June, 2014.
“Pursuant to Section 287 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the decisions of the Federal High Court, a High Court and of all other courts established by this Constitution shall be enforced in any part of the federation by all authorities and persons, and by other courts of law with the subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Federal High Court, a High Court and those other courts, respectively.”
Mr Izimah urged the AIG to intervene in ensuring compliance with the orders of the court and stop his men from working on the parcel of land in dispute or engaging on any acts that would violate the provisions of the Constitution until final judgment is delivered on the matter.
Attempts to reach Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmus, proved abortive, as she did not answer calls put to her mobile line. At the time of going to press, she had not replied to a text message sent to her mobile phone either.