A Lagos High Court has declared that the Ojora Ruling House has the Statutory Right of Occupancy over a vast parcel of land that has been the subject of litigation since 2012.
The ruling is an addendum to an earlier one that gave the Ojora Royal Family the legal right to take possession of the entire Iganmu community, with effect from July 31, 2007.
The property includes a substantial part of the land hosting 7up Bottling Company in Ijora.
Justice Kazeem Alogba handed down the verdict in a 16-page judgment with Suit No. LD/443/2002: Oba Fatai Oyegbemi Aromire (Ojora of Lagos) and two others versus Chief Ogunyemi and thirty (30) other respondents.
Following the delivery of the judgement last Wednesday, September 16, the Ojora ruling family swung into action in the early hours of Thursday, September 17, taking legal possession of the land.
The family in company of policemen and High Court Deputy Sheriffs pasted notices, informing occupants of Badia, of the ruling of the High Court.
The notice reads: “The claimant are persons entitled to possession of the parcel of land in Ijora – Badia between Orile – Iganmu, Ijora Express Road and container terminal to Ebute – Iganmu Ijora more particularly delineated and edged red on the survey plan”.
The notice further declared the occupants as illegal trespassers and threatened to deal with them if they refuse to vacate the area according to the confines of the law.
“Any person who remains in illegal possession or is found on the land covered by the judgement will henceforth be treated as trespassers and will be dealt with according to law,” the notice continued.
In 2002, the paramount ruler of the Ijora kingdom, Oba Fatai Aremu Aromire Ojora, prayed the court for, among others, a declaration that his ruling house is entitled to the Statutory Right Of Occupancy of the disputed land, stating categorically that the defendants are trespassers on the land and prayed the court to issue an injunction restraining them from further trespassing on the land. Speaking with The Nation on the implication of the judgement, the elated Oba expressed fulfilment and gratitude to God for allowing the recovery of the land during his reign.
“I am happy that this judgement has come during my reign and I thank God for helping the Ojora family to recover this stolen land. This land dispute has been in court since 2002 and after much controversy and court sessions, the judgment was delivered, returning our land to us.
“Both the land and structures now belong to the Ojora family,” he said.
The Oba insisted that there will not be any form of negotiation with the occupants, noting that they are squatters who never even purchased the landed property they are presently occupying.
“They are migrants who were pursued when the National Theatre was to be built. They came to Ijora Badia and the Ojora of that time accommodated them. They started building and expanding so much that they claimed the land. It was not as if they bought the land. So, there won’t be any negotiation,” he said.
Also speaking with our reporter, Barrister Kunle Jimoh of Segun and Segun Legal Practitioners, who handled the case from inception for the Ojora family, revealed that the legal battle for the land lasted 12 years until Justice K.O. Alogba delivered judgment in favour of the Ojora family last Thursday.
He said that many justices had sat over the case within the 12-year period of litigation until Justice Alogba finally gave judgement.
Jimoh added that although the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) tried to delay the judgement from being passed, Justice Alogba, against all odds, delivered the judgement.
When thenigerialawyer sought the views of the occupants of the community – house owners and tenants – on the new development, they were reluctant to speak. At Bimade Diagnostic Services in Ijora, owned by Mr. John Adeyemi, who also owns a set of shops in the community, the receptionist said the doctor was busy and referred thenigerialawyer to Mr Adeyemi’s lawyer.