The Incorporated Trustees of Bolorunpelu Landlords and Residents Association of Ibeju –Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos State has instituted an action against ASSET & RESOURCE MANAGEMENT COMPANY LIMITED ( ARM); TOLL SYSTEMS COMPANY LIMITED; CHIEF MUTAIRU OWOEYE & COMPANY LTD; ALHAJI MUTAIRU OWOEYE AND MR. GANIYU OWOEYE (A.K.A GARBA) in Suit No. EPD/6122LMW/18 filed before the High Court of Lagos State, Epe Judicial Division, Epe.

The Community is asking for an order of court directing the defendants to immediately vacate the claimants’ parcels of land as described in their respective survey plans and restore all the properties the defendants destroyed. The community is also asking that N100,000,000.00 worth of damages be awarded in favour of the claimants and against the defendants, jointly and severally for the malicious destruction/ demolition of the claimant’s houses, churches, factories and industries causing the claimants to suffer untold hardship, loss of their business, homes and psychological trauma.

The other reliefs sought are A DECLARATION that the unlawful invasion of the claimants’ properties with dangerous firearms, offensive weapons, malicious destruction/ demolition of the claimants’ houses, churches, factories and industries without lawful and valid court orders/ judgment by the 1st to 4th defendants through the 5th to 8th defendants, with the purpose of chasing the claimants out of their respective parcels of land and annexed and fenced the annexed land, is unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful; A DECLARATION that the defendants’ use of force, violence, self-help, armed hoodlums to secure entry into the claimants’ landed properties, and took over the claimants’ landed property is unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful; A DECLARATION that the continued occupation of the claimants’ landed properties by the defendants of which the defendants secured entry and fenced it, through use of force, offensive weapons and firearms, violence, self-help, armed hoodlums and took over the claimants’ landed property is unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful.”

Tony Ezeani Esq, the legal representative of the community noted that the Lagos State Properties Protection Law 2016 prohibits any person from forcefully taking over any land and to enter any land by violence.

“Alhaji Mutairu Owoeye and his son, Garba Owoeye (also known as ‘ajagungbale’) have been charged before Igbosere Magistrate Court by the Police for the invasion and destruction of the claimants’ properties,” Tony added.

It would be recalled that in times past, many land grabbers have resulted to the use of ‘ajagungbale’ in Lagos to obtain or recover land. Many have lost their lives in the process while some have been maimed for life and several more have been traumatized after having their land seized and resold without a kobo for compensation, not to mention those locked in a cycle of unending court cases over trespass to their land.

“This practice of use of force or self-help or engaging in any act inconsistent with the proprietary right of the owner to take over any landed property has now become prohibited by virtue of section 2 of the Lagos State Properties Protection Law. Consequently, any person or group of persons who use force from the commencement of the Law, or who has used force to take over a landed property in the State before the commencement of the Law and still remain in possession of the said property three (3) months after the commencement of the Law commits an offence punishable by ten (10) years imprisonment. Similarly, a person who, without lawful authority, uses or threatens violence for the purpose of securing entry into any landed property for himself or for any other person commits an offence punishable on conviction to ten (10) years imprisonment and such person’s right to possession or occupation of the property shall not constitute lawful authority for the use or threat of violence by him or anyone acting on his behalf for the purpose of securing entry into that property  and this shall be irrespective of whether or not the violence is directed against the person or against the property and the violence is intended to secure entry for the purpose of acquiring possession of the property or for any other purpose. In the same vein, any person who makes forceful entry with firearms, effective weapons or any obnoxious or chemical materials or is in company of any person so armed or wounds or uses violence on any person commits an offence and is liable on conviction to four (4) years imprisonment. The Law goes further to prohibit a person from placing or causing to be placed on any land or landed property, any land agent(s) for the for the purpose(s) of forcefully taking over the said land,” Tony noted.

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