Hospital Drags United Capital Trustees To Court Over Illegal Demolition

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Folarin Hospital has dragged United Capital Trustees Limited has dragged the company before a Lagos High Court for allegedly demolishing the building of the health care provider.

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The hospital (claimant) apart from urging the court to declare the demolition as illegal is also demanding N200 million as damages for trespass and illegal demolition and N300million as aggravated damages for highhanded and vindictive act.

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The Claimant is also claiming the sum of N12,312,400 as cost of Hospital Equipment vandalized or destroyed and N286,900 being the cost of treating its medical Director.

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In a statement of claim filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Olumide Sofowora SAN, the claimant averred that:

The Hospital located at 9 Aderibigbe Shitta Street, Maryland from 1988 to 2013 moved to 7 Immanuel Street, Maryland Estate, Jesu Oyingbo Complex,  Maryland, Lagos in 2013 under lease agreement between the Hospital and  Oladipo Olusegun Immanuel, one of the children of the late Jesu Oyingbo who had the rented apartment as his own allocation and to whom the Claimant made payment.

While the Hospital’s Lease on the apartment was still subsisting, the Hospital with other occupants within the Complex started receiving directives and counter directives from different factions of the late Olufunmilayo Odumosu’s family.

One faction said they had approached the High Court and had a decision in their favour and another faction said they approached the Court of Appeal in respect of the High Court decision and that the appeal was subsisting.

However, around May 2018, it was observed that demolitions were going on in a particular building within the Estate which had been ravaged by fire about 10 years earlier. The demolition was extending towards other buildings and soldiers were brought out from the Ikeja Military Cantonment to force tenants out of their apartments.

The Hospital with other worried occupants of the complex carried out investigation at the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority and discovered that the Authority granted a demolition permit for the demolition of a burnt 3 floor structure at 16/17 Emmanuel Street and nothing more.

From the demolition permit the Hospital located at 7 Emmanuel Street was not to be affected by the demolition. The Hospital learnt that United Capital Trustees Limited, UTCL, was responsible for the demolition as it claimed to have been appointed the Trustee to the Estate of Olufunmilayo Odumosu a.k.a. Jesu Oyingbo.

Out of abundance of caution the Hospital wrote a letter through its Medical Director, Dr. A. A. Folarin Williams to UCTL and requested to be allowed 12 months to relocate from the property because of its huge clientele and patronage because all the documents/permit relating to the operation of the Hospital had been done with the address of 7 Emmanuel Street.

The defendant responded to the request of the Hospital and acknowledged responsibility for the demolition which it said was to enable it redevelop and improve the value of the Estate. It informed the Hospital that it had approved a one month period from the 1st of June 2018 to 30th June 2018 to enable the Hospital vacate the premises.

However, the Claimant averred that in spite of the express approval granted it to stay till 30th June, at about 5am on the 3rd of June, 2018, despite the fact that some patients were on admission in the hospital, the defendant’s demolition team moved into the hospital without warning and started demolition and everyone had to run for their lives because of the presence of the fierce looking soldiers.

By the time the defendant was done with the demolition, medical equipment and instruments had been vandalized, pilfered or out rightly destroyed.

All the items destroyed amounted to N12,312,400, while the Medical Director of the hospital Dr. A. A. Williams suffered emotional, physical and mental trauma occasioned by the illegal and unauthorised act of the United Capital Trustees Limited.

Consequently, the Claimant claims against the defendant are as follows:

  • A declaration that the demolition carried out by the defendant on the Hospital is illegal since relevant authority, the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority had given approval only for the demolition of a burnt 3 floor structure at 16/17 Emmanuel street, Maryland,Lagos.

       Special Damages:

  • N12,312,400 being the cost of Hospital equipment and other items vandalized or outrightly destroyed during the demolition by the defendant.
  • N286,900 cost of medical treatment of the Medical Director of the Hospital.
  • N200 million as damages for trespass and the illegal demolition of the Hospital
  • N300 million as aggravated damages for the high handed and vindictive of the defendant in trespassing on and illegal demolition of the Hospital causing trauma and loss of earnings.

However, United Capital Trusses Limited in its statement of defense filed before the court by its lawyer, Charles Musa, is contending that the writ of summons in this suit has expired and that it was not served with the writ of summons and other accompanying processes in the suit.

  • That it was appointed Trustee of the Estate of Olufunmilayo Odumosu by the order of the court and it took rigours of serving notices on individual and corporate tenants/occupants of the property of the Estate at Emmanuel Street, Maryland, Lagos including the Claimant. The defendant also published a notice in the Newspaper of the said appointment.
  • That the Claimant was in occupation of 7A Emmanuel street, Maryland, the defendant wrote a letter to the Claimant through its solicitors demanding it to vacate the said property within 7 days but the Claimant refused and failed to comply with the demand.
  • That the Claimant went further to enter into lease agreement with one Mr Oladipo Olusegun Emmanuel in defiance of a subsisting order of the court which said conduct amounts to contempt of the court.

The defendant denied and categorically stated that it is not responsible for the demolition of the Claimant’s Hospital.

UCTL said it granted the claimant a grace of one month within which it should vacate the premises and so could not have demolished the premises on the third day of the grace period.

Also, it said it did not obtain any demolition permit from Lagos State Government and no demolition was done at its behest at any material time.

The defendant therefore contended that the suit was without merit and ought to be dismissed with substantial costs.

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