By Akin Kuponiyi
A Lagos lawyer, Isaac Anumudu, has engaged the Bajulaiye Family in a legal battle over Lagos Island property. Anumudu is claiming N500million damages from the Task Force Unit for enforcement of the Lagos State Properties Protection Law and its chairman, as a result of alleged unlawful detention.
Suing alongside the lawyer are two other persons, Mrs Stella Anumudu, Mr Obediah Josiah and a limited liability company, Crown Star Limited.
Joined as co-defendants are, Inspector General of Police, Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 2, Attorney General of Lagos State, Task Force Unit for enforcement of the Lagos State Properties Law 2016, and its Chairman, Mr. Jide Bakare. Others are Lagos State Special Offences Court, the presiding Magistrate Lagos State Special Offences Court, Mr Lateef A. Owolabi, and three other persons, Mr Olusegun Bajulaiye, Mr Oluseyi Bajulaiye and Mrs Moyosore Adejumo (nee Bajulaiye
In an affidavit sworn to by one Stella Anumudu and filed before the court by Chijioke Okoli SAN, it was alleged that the applicants returned to their premises at Plot 8, Agoro Odiyan Street, Victoria Island Lagos at about 11am on October 25,2017only to find, the chairman of the task force unit for enforcement of the Lagos State property protection law 2016, Mr Jide Bakare and his staff and security agents, without any notice, invitation, apprehended them, dragged them inside Black Maria and were driven to their office, which also houses Lagos State Special Offences Court in Bolade in the Oshodi Area of Lagos State.
Mr Isaac Anumudu was detained till the following day when he was arraigned and granted bail.
It was averred further that the fourth applicant Crown Star Limited leasehold under and by which the company had built and occupying the two houses at the said plot 8, Agoro Odiyan Street Victoria Island, Lagos had been subject of litigation in the magistrate court resulting in that court’s judgment for forfeiture against the company, while application is pending for extension of time to file an appeal. Consequently, the applicants contended that given the pendency of the appeal the arraignment of Isaac Anumudu constituted an illegality.
The deponent averred further that apart from threatening Mr Anumudu to withdraw their appeal they have been denied access to the property to remove their properties and belongings by armed policemen.
Consequently, the applicants while demanding for N500million damages, are also urging the court to order the respondents to remove themselves and thier agents from their premises.
However, the defendants
In an affidavit sworn to by the 9th respondent Oluseyi Bajulaiye on behalf of the 8th defendant Mr Olusegun Bajulaiye and 10th defendant Mrs Moyosore Adejumo(nee Bajulaiye) and filed before the court by a human rights lawyer, Barrister Ebun Adegboruwa, the deponent, while denying almost all the averment of the appllicants averred that they don’t know the 2nd applicant Mrs Stella Anumudu.
Mr Bajulaiye, averred further thus: That there is no valid tenancy between the applicants and 8th-10th defendants (Bajulaiye Family) as Isaac Anumudu tenancy expired on the 30th September, 2012. to which Judgment has been obtained in favour of the respondents, thus there is no valid tenancy agreement to confer locus on the applicants in respect of the property and building subject matter of litigation.
The subject matter of arraignment of Mr Isaac Anumudu is pursuant to the contravention of section 6 of the Lagos State Properties Protection Law, 2016 wherein the applicants used the Nigerian Police Force to oust the 8th -10th defendants from the property and to which section 12 and 14 of the Lagos State Properties Protection Law 2016 empower and vests jurisdiction on the 3rd -7th defendants, (Attorney General of Lagos State, Task Force Unit for enforcement of the Lagos State Properties Law, 2016,The Chairman of the task force, Lagos State Special Offences Court, and the Presiding Magistrate) to arrest and prosecute offenders on matters bordering on offences provided by the law, therefore, the Federal High Court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to adjudicate over the subject matter of this suit.
There are already several suits already pending at Lagos high court as well as Special offences court in connection with the subject matter of this suit.
The primary cause of action which gave rise to the applicants institution of this suit relates to tenancy and land which belongs to the late father of the 8th -10th respondents,Christoper Bajulaiye wherein a deed of lease agreement was prepared between the deceased and the applicants for a term of three years with option of renewal coupled with reversionary right of land back to the landlord at the expiration of the leasehold agreement.
Upon the death of Mr Christopher Bajulaiye, his properties and estate including the one situate at 8,Agoro Odiyan Street off Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island Lagos the subject matter of this suit, devolved upon his children which include 8th-10th respondents as the sole beneficiaries of his estate, the applicants are not related to or connected with their family in any way at all.
Before the expiration of the leasehold agreement on the 30th day of September, 2012, the 4th defendant Crown Star Limited company vide letter written by Mr Anumudu dated 9th November, 2007 requested for a further 15years extension of the lease with the effect from October, 2017, the request was refused and before the expiration of the lease agreement the 8th -10th respondents issued notice to quit dated 28th of February, 2012 on Mr Anumudu.
At the expiration of the statutory notice to quit the respondent also issued notice of owner ‘s intention to recover possession of premises on Mr Anumudu.
Upon his failure and refusal to give up possession of the number 8,Agoro Odiyan Street off Adeola Odeku, the respondents instituted an action against the applicants at the magistrate court via writ of tenant refusing to give up possession.
Judgment in the suit, was delivered in favour of the respondents on the 8th day of May, 2017. Being dissatisfied with the judgment, Mr Anumudu filed stay of execution of the judgment, and seeking an order of extension to seek leave of the court to file notice of appeal, the respondents also filed counter affidavit,
The application of the applicants were dismissed in its entirety. After the lawful execution of the judgment of the court on the 15th of August, 2017.Mr Anumudu wrote petition to the Nigerian Police Force against the 8th-10th respondents which led to the arrest of the security guards employed to protect the property.
The respondents then instructed their solicitor, George Etomi and Partners to write a counter petition to The Nigerian Police Force, SCID Panti, Yaba Lagos, a copy was also sent to Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone Two Onikan Lagos.
When the actions of the applicants continued unabated, the respondents mandated their solicitor to write another petition to the Chairman, Task Force on land grabbers to assist them to regain possession of their property from the applicants in line with the judgment of the court. Based upon this petition, the task force on land grabbers conducted investigation and found out that the applicants have violated provisions of the Lagos State Properties Protection Law, 2016,
Consequently, Lagos State Government through the office of the Attorney General of Lagos State instituted an action against Mr Isaac Anumudu in Charge number SOC/465C/2017 Attorney General of Lagos State V. Isaac Anumudu before the Special Offences Court.
Therefore, the deponent averred that it is not in doubt that the subject matter of this suit relates to tenancy and land belonging to the family of the respondents, consequently the court is urged to strike out this case with substantial cost awarded against the applicants for being frivolous, vexatious and abuse of court process.
Meanwhile, in a counter affidavit sworn to by a Police officer Assistant Supretendent of Police, Steve Ezeribe on behalf of the Inspector General of Police and filed before the court, the Police Officer averred that the Inspector General of Police and the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone Two have nothing to do with Lagos State Task Force on Property Protection and they have not done anything unlawful that have violated the fundamental rights, neither are they contemplating to do any unlawful act that could violate the applicants fundamental rights, therefore the applicants are not entitled to reliefs sought against the Inspector General of Police and Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone Two, therefore the case against them should be dismissed by the court for lacking in merit and being frivolous.
In a counter affidavit by the Principal State Counsel in the office of the Attorney General of Lagos State, Adebunmi Popoola, on behalf of the Attorney General of Lagos State, Task Force for the enforcement of the Lagos State Properties Protection Law 2016, and its Chairman, the deponent denied nearly all the averments of the applicants and stated that they received petition from George Etomi & Partners where it was alleged that property situate at 8, Agoro Odiyan Street Victoria Island Lagos, having been recovered from the applicants by the Sheriff of the High Court of Lagos State, was being illegally occupied by the applicant, Mr Anumudu was invited to state his response to the allegation, he refused to attend the meeting scheduled.
On the 25th, October, 2017 the task force in furtherance of its mandate under the Lagos State Properties Protection Law 2016, raided the property and arrested several persons from there including Mr Anumudu.
Thereafter, Mr Anumudu was arraigned at the Special Offences Court, Oshodi on a two count charge of offences against the Lagos State Properties Protection Law 2016.The task force has acted within the power granted to it under the law and has not breached the applicant’s fundamental right as being alleged. Therefore, it opposed the applicant’s prayer.