Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Justice O. O. Majekodunmi of the Ogun State High Court sitting in Ota, has restrained the state government and its agents from a family land situated at Sokelu-Efulege village in Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of the state.
The court also awarded N30 million as damages for trespassing and destruction of buildings and crops belonging to the family.
While granting a perpetual injunction in suit number AB/330/2012, Majekodunmi, barred the state government and its agents from further entering or interfering with the land measuring 8.652 hectres.
The family, represented by Alhaji Abdul-Ganiu Kayode, and four others, had dragged the state Attorney General, the state Bureau of Lands and Survey, the state Housing Corporation and four others, before the court for illegal acquisition of their land.
The state government had in 2006, acquired the piece of land for Asero Housing Estate Phase II, but the claimants argued that the land was later allotted to individuals who had connection with the government.
It was also argued that the land was acquired without proper notice of acquisition, neither was adequate compensation paid to the inhabitants of the village.
The government, in its argument, said the land was properly acquired with notice given, adding that compensation was being paid “up till date.”
It further argued that since it was difficult to serve the land owners, the notice of acquisition was pasted on trees and rocks within the portion of the land.
But, in his judgment, Majekodunmi said the claimants were able to establish the ownership of the land through descendancy of one Efulega, who was the first settler on the land, saying that the ownership of the land was never in dispute.
According to him, the two witnesses called by the state government could not produce any copy of the said notice and he admitted that there was no evidence in their office that the claimants were served.
“I find it difficult to believe the testimony of PDW2. If the disputed land was a thick bush with no visible house or structure, how come there were few farmers seen and served with the notices? The account of PDW2 as regards service of the requisite notices just doesn’t make any sense,” Majekodunmi stated.
He also queried one of the witnesses, who was appointed into the service of the government in 2005, but giving evidence about an incident that happened in 2000.
He further held that none of the evidence given by the witnesses was able to establish the fact that the occupiers of the disputed land were served with any notice of acquisition or were paid any compensation in respect of their land.
“It is also totally irresponsible and reprehensible for the first and third defendants to claim that payment of compensation is ongoing till date with respect to an acquisition which they claimed to have been done in 1974.
“It leaves a sour taste in my mouth that not only did the first to third defendant wrongfully jumped on the claimants’ land under the guise of purported acquisition, but they were also illegally allocating same to individuals, contrary to the intendment of the law in respect of acquisition for public purpose,” the judge submitted.