The Lagos State Government, LASG, has commenced demolition of the property of Admiral Porbeni (rtd.), in disobedience to the order of the Federal High Court order restraining the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos State from allocating any portion of the property located at B20, Wole Olateju Crescent, off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1 in Eti-Osa Local government Area.
On October 18, 2021, Justice David Osiagor had, in a suit filed by Admiralty Fleet Limited (BICS Garden) and Admiral Porbeni, restrained the Attorney-General of Lagos State, and the Lagos State Special Task Force Unit from allocating any portion of the parcel of land, building, and appurtenances or enter into the disputed property pending the hearing of the substantive suit.
Adetunji Oyeyipo, SAN alongside, Abiodun Olatunji, SAN, counsel for the plaintiffs, had in a Motion on notice for Interlocutory Injunction, urged the court to restrain the defendants from entering into the disputed property pending the hearing of the substantive suit.
In his ruling, Justice Osiagor restrained the defendants from entering the said property for the purpose of forcefully removing the plaintiff or any of the plaintiff’s equipment, machinery, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
The judge refused the request of the defendants to consolidate the applicants’ Motion on Notice with the preliminary objection filed by the defendants stressing that the preliminary objection was not ripe for hearing.
However, Lagos State in defiance of the court order reportedly invaded the premises and demolished the property, and damaged some equipment.
In an affidavit in support of the Motion on Notice, it was stated that sometime in 1987, Admiral Porbeni (second applicant), acquired the disputed land measuring 1996.86 square metres from the Lagos State Government and was granted a Certificate of Occupancy dated December 3, 1987.
In 1996, he acquired an additional parcel of land located at Lekki in Lagos Island Local Government Area measuring 3239.51 square metres from Lagos State and subsequently applied for and was granted a Lagos State Certificate of Occupancy in respect of the land.
In compliance with revenue payment advice received from (National Inland Waterways Authority) on December 18, 2006, and on June 14, 2007, he paid the sum of Ꞥ356,500.00 and N120,000.00 for permit approval fee, inspection fee, shore utilization and permit renewal, inspection fee and structure for waterways respectively.
The applicants maintained that they had consistently and as at when due paid all demand notices from the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) for a permit to operate a jetty on the waterways, even after the second respondent had inspected and confirmed that the property is situated along the Right of Way of declared Navigable Right of Ways territory under its full control and management.
It was further stated that the Court of Appeal, in a judgment delivered on April 14, 2011 affirmed that title to any land within 100 meters limit of the 1967 shoreline of Nigeria and all land reclaimed from or near a lagoon, sea or ocean are vested exclusively in the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The marking of the applicants’ equipment for demolition resulted in chaos following which the Lagos State Task Force informed the applicants to come for a meeting on Monday, October 4, 2021.
The applicants stated that while they were preparing for the meeting with the Chairman, Lagos State Special Task Force, the Task Force invaded the disputed property with bulldozers, Black Maria vehicles, and trucks loaded with heavily armed Police men led by one CSP. Sola Jejeloye without any valid court order and immediately proceeded to demolish structures including boundary fences and staff quarters housing about 25 staff members and their families.
The task force also provided security and supervised workers of a third party to build a new perimeter fence over a portion of the land in dispute in their bid to immediately complete a total and forceful takeover of the land.
The applicants urged the court to declare the forceful entry and invasion of the applicant’s premises amount to trespass and a breach of the applicant’s fundamental right to own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria guaranteed by Section 43 of the Constitution.
However, the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Lagos Task Force in their Notice of preliminary objection filed by their lawyer, Adebayo Haroun, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit, arguing that the subject matter of this action is not one of the specific matters listed in Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) that the court is conferred with jurisdiction to entertain. In their counter affidavit, the AG of Lagos State stated that the land has been allocated to third party who has taken possession and the government only demolished the place because it was being occupied by squatters, miscreants and hoodlums.
He urged the court to strike out the suit.