IT was 27 years of pains and agonies for members of the Shangisha Landlords Association in Lagos State. Some of them passed on before reprieve came for them at the Supreme Court at the weekend.
For those who are alive, it was the best thing to happen to them, especially at a time they had almost lost hope of reclaiming the plots forcefully seized from them by the state government.
As they narrated their ordeals at the weekend, it was indeed a reclaim of 27-year painful, angonising wait laced with despair and homelessness. But now, they are savouring the victory and also lamenting that some of their colleagues, who started the struggle, had died.
In its ruling, the apex court affirmed the judgments of the Lagos State High Court and the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, which ordered the state government to immediately allocate 549 plots to the landlords under the Shangisha/Magodo Estate Scheme 2.
The Supreme Court held that the Lagos State High Court and the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal came to the right conclusion in 1994 and 2001 when they ordered the state government to re-allocate the same 549 plots to the landlords or allocate plots of their choices to them.
The first plaintiff/respondent – Chief Adebayo Adeyiga now 80 years old, said he would never forget “this memorable day.” But he is not happy that some of the landlords are not alive to reap the dividends of their hard-earned judicial victory as they have since died out of frustration and deprivation.”
Majority of those who are alive, he said, are either suffering from one form of ailment or the other.
In an emotion-laden voice, Adeyiga said: “The government wanted to kill me. They threw me from the last floor of my three-storey building. I virtually lost my sight. They wanted to paralyse me. They kept asking me – are you the only one who schooled in America? You say you are fighting for human rights, your people’s right. God bless this day. It is a day I will never forget. If I die now, I can rest in peace. But I am sad because a lot of us who started this struggle have passed on.”
The five-man panel in a unanimous decision delivered by Justice Olufunlola Oyelola Adekeye held that it could not disturb the concurrent findings of the High Court and Court of Appeal as they were premised on sound legal footings.
“In the instant appeal at this juncture, there are two concurrent findings of the two lower courts. The Supreme Court will not ordinarily disturb concurrent findings of facts made by the High Court and the Court of Appeal unless a substantial error apparent on the face of the record of proceedings is shown or when such findings are perverse. On going through the record, it is my conclusion that the court has no duty to interfere with the decision of the two lower courts,” Justice Adekeye held.
The apex court also dismissed the complaint of the Lagos State government over the lower court’s decision to hear the case of the Shangisha Landlords and even issue a mandatory injunction against the then military government of Lagos State during the Christmas vacation, saying it amounted to no issue as the court had discretion to exercise and did so.
“In this case, the learned trial judge exercised his discretion in considering the trial of this case as a matter deserving urgency and thereby heard same during the Christmas vacation and furthermore acted judicially and judiciously in granting the mandatory injunction. Where the exercise of discretion by the trial court is in issue, an appellate court is usually reluctant to interfere with the decision except where the discretion was exercised in an arbitrary or illegal manner or without due consideration of the issues by the trial court,” he stated.
The court noted that “in the instant case, the Court of Appeal affirmed that the trial court rightly exercised its discretion during the trial of this case. This court has no reason to disagree with that conclusion.”
After reviewing the totality of the submissions made on behalf of the state government by its counsel, Lawal Pedro (SAN), in its appeal and the respondents’ submission marshalled by their lawyer, Olumide Sofowora, the court declared: “In sum, the appeal lacks merit and it is dismissed. The judgments of the two lower courts are affirmed. The cost of this appeal is assessed as N50,000 in favour of the respondents.”
Justices Walter Onnoghen, John Fabiyi, Bode Rhodes Vivour and Mary Peter-Odili agreed with the lead judgment.
Members of the Shangisha Landlords Association had bought various plots of land from different families who owned the entire Shangisha Village and built their houses on the said plots. But without being served with any contravention or demolition notice, the then military government of the state between June 1984 and May 1985 carried out a demolition of those houses, rendering the landlords and their tenants homeless. In remonstration to this development, the association filed a complaint before the governor of Lagos State, who had a series of meeting with it at the Office of Permanent Secretary on Lands, Housing and Development Matters leading to a panel being raised by the government under a Principal Secretary in the Governor’s Office. It did not yield any result.
Finally, the landlords took the state government to the High Court in 1988 to challenge what they believed was an unlawful demolition of their houses and usurpation of their lands by the state government. On December 31, 1993, the trial judge ruled in favour of the plaintiffs/respondents (landlords) thus: “At the trial, the first Plaintiff Witness (PW) gave evidence in great details in support of the plaintiff’s case and his evidence were totally in line with the pleaded case. What is more important is that even during the proceedings and trial in this action, meetings were still held between the plaintiffs and the Lagos State government (defendant) herein to find an amicable settlement out of court to the disputes herein.
Unfortunately, this has not been achieved. As the evidence of the 1st P.W. stood unchallenged and uncontradicted, I accept the same in toto.”
Ruling further, the trial judge held that “from all these exhibits, it stood very clear that the government of Lagos State has committed itself to allocate plots in the scheme involved to members of the Plaintiffs’ Landlords Association and it is therefore bound in law to do so.”
He then issued an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Lagos State government to forthwith allocate 549 plots to the plaintiffs in the said Shangisha Village Scheme.
Dissatisfied with the High Court’s decision, the state government beseeched the Appeal Court, praying it to set it aside. But the Appeal Court “affirmed the declaratory judgment of the trial court, which based on the nature of the claim before the court, amounted to a judicial pronouncement on the legal state of affairs between the parties in the claim of the respondents (landlords) to their right to preferential treatment in allocation of plots of land by the Lagos State government in Shangisha Village.”
Again not satisfied with the decision of the appellate court, the state government approached the Supreme Court vide a notice of appeal filed in 2001, praying it to upturn the verdicts of the two lower courts. But the apex court in a unanimous decision refused its prayer and upheld the judgments of the trial court and the Appeal Court as being well considered and on good legal premise.
However, the apex court while resolving the appeal in favour of the landlords took cognisance of the state government proposal to effect an amicable settlement and urged Sofowora (their counsel) “to advise them properly to give the government their maximum co-operation in the execution of this government.”
Kwara Governor, Abdulrazaq Declares 24-hour Curfew
Following the outbreak of violence in some quarters of the State, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State has declared a 24-hour Curfew on the state starting on Saturday.
Governor Abdulrazaq made this known in a statewide broadcast on Friday night.
Recall that on Friday some residents of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital stormed the warehouses where the government stored COVID-19 palliatives expected to be distributed to citizens.
Also Read: BREAKING: Lagos Government Relaxes Curfew
The warehouses, located at the cargo warehouse of the International airport in Ilorin as well as the agro-mall located in the Sango area of the state were totally ransacked as residents struggled to pack as much food items as they could.
Abdulrazaq said, “Lives are being threatened. Businesses are being looted. Public properties have been targeted. This is unacceptable. It is not who we are.
“To curb these acts of criminalities, I hereby declare a 24-hour curfew in Ilorin metropolis from midnight today October 23rd, 2020. This is in line with Sections 1, 2, and 4 of the Public Order Act Chapter 382 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“People are urged to stay indoors in compliance with this curfew. This will be reviewed as we watch developments.
“Our observation is that what has happened today is not a protest, it cannot be defended under any guide, it was a pure act of criminality as some people are hiding under the guise of nationwide protest.”
Lagos Policemen Brutalise PUNCH Journalists For Covering #EndSARS Protest
Two PUNCH journalists, Femi Dawodu and Segun Odunayo, were on Wednesday brutalised by policemen guarding the Lagos State House of Assembly in Ikeja.
The duo had gone to cover events around the Alausa area, a major demonstration ground of the #EndSARS protesters calling for a total overhaul of the Nigeria Police Force.
According to the PUNCH, both Odunayo and Dawodu were recording a live video of activities in the area when the policemen accosted them and ordered them to stop the recording.
After showing the policemen their identity cards, indicating that they are journalists covering #EndSARS protests and monitoring compliance with the government-imposed curfew, the policemen became annoyed and pounced on them.
Odunayo said the policemen tortured them for four hours, adding that they stripped them of their clothes, laid them on the floor, beat them with a stick and guns, and took a video recording of them while torturing them at the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Odunayo said, “Femi and I were at the Secretariat in Alausa around 7 am and were doing a live video of the activities going on in the area. We were heading back to the expressway when a group of armed policemen accosted us at the Lagos State House of Assembly roundabout and immediately collected our phones. We showed them our ID cards, but they refused to let us go.
“What got the policemen annoyed was that we saw them using a stick and a rubber to beat a young man, and during the live video, they heard me saying that they were beating someone. So, after they arrested us, they tortured us and demanded that we should do another live video denying the statement, but we refused.
“Each Time we refused, they slapped us, used a stick to beat us, used the butt of their guns to hit our heads and bodies after stripping us of our clothes. All they wanted was for us to do another live broadcast to claim that we lied and we didn’t because we told the truth.”
Dawodu said it took the intervention of the state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi before they were released at the Alausa Police Station, adding that before their release, the policemen took their details, including their addresses, took a video record of them and threatened to go after them if any negative report was published about what happened.
He said, “The policemen were transferring the aggression of what is happening regarding the #EndSARS protest on us. They later took us to the Divisional Police Station in Alausa, and if not for the DPO, the policemen guarding the LSHA that arrested us would have done more grievous things to us.
“The PPRO and the DPO later spoke with them, and we were released.
“But despite his intervention, we were told to write statements. They collected our details, address, took video recordings of us making false statements during the torture, and threatened to use it to blackmail and go after us if we end up doing any bad report against them.”
CCTV At Lekki Toll Gate Was Not Removed -Lekki Concession Company Says
Lekki Concession Company in their press release has debunked the rumour that the Lekki Toll Gate CCTV camera was not removed.
According to the press release by the company which condemns the unlawful killings of the peaceful protesters said no one gave the order for the removal of the Closed Circuit Television System as the CCTV is still intact as of the time of this report.
Speaking further, the concession company revealed that if the CCTV was to be removed, it would require the use of machinery to reach the heights that they have been installed.
Read the release report below;
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