The High Court of Lagos State has restored all landlords and residents of Balogun Street Extension, Iwaya-Yaba, Lagos, to their land from where they were forcefully evicted after the demolition by the Lagos State Government.
The Court, presided over by the Honourable Justice Ronke Harrison, delivered interlocutory judgment on October 29, 2019, after arguments by their counsel, human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.
Residents and landlords of the mainland community in Iwaya area of Lagos State woke up to buldozers, armed soldiers and policemen on 18th August, 2017, from the Lagos State Government, which proceeded to demolish over 100 houses, displacing families thereby, with property worth millions of naira damaged in the process. Confused and bruised, the landlords and residents approached Mr. Adegboruwa, who agreed to take up their case in court pro bono (free of charge). Upon proper investigation, it was discovered that the landlords bought their various plots of land from the Delfino Anthonio Da Meranda family and that they had all valid documents of title in proof of their ownership. Consequently, Mr. Adegboruwa proceeded to file a case in court against the Lagos State Government, seeking amongst other reliefs:
A. A DECLARATION that the demolition and wanton destruction of the claimants’ houses, buildings and structures at Balogun Street Extension, Iwaya, Yaba on the 18th of August 2017, by the officials of the 1st & 4th defendant constitutes an infringement of the claimants’ rights to property and is unlawful, unconstitutional and illegal.
B. A DECLARATION that the claimants are entitled to statutory right of occupancy of all that land known as Balogun Street Extension community, Iwaya, Yaba Local Government Area of Lagos State.
C. A DECLARATION that the claimants are entitled to possession of all that land known as Balogun Street Extension community, Iwaya, Yaba Local Government Area of Lagos State.
D. A PERPETUAL injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, servants or privies either jointly or severally from trespassing on or further demolishing the structures on the land belonging to the claimants known as Balogun Street Extension community, Iwaya, Yaba Local Government Area of Lagos State.
E. A PERPETUAL injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, servants or privies either jointly or severally from taking over or building on or developing the land or selling the land belonging to the claimants known as Balogun Street Extension community, Iwaya, Yaba Local Government Area of Lagos State.
The case went through the Pre-Trial Conference and was eventually assigned to Honourable Justice Ronke Harrison for trial.
On the day trial was to commence, the Lagos State Government informed the court that it was not contesting ownership and possession of the land with the landlords and residents, but only concerned with breach of physical planning regulations. Consequently, Mr. Adegboruwa applied for interlocutory judgment on the claims for ownership and possession of the land. On October 29, 2019, the court entered judgment in favour of the landlords and residents as per their claims of ownership and possession.
Addressing the residents and landlords in court after the proceedings, Mr. Adegboruwa urged them to render thanks to God and then to partner with Lagos State Government to rebuild their houses and take possession of their land. Mr. Adegboruwa informed them that it was his first judgment after his elevation as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and he is happy that God is helping him to use his exalted position as SAN to help the masses, the poor and the oppressed. He consoled the landlords and residents, many of were in tears in the court, whilst others rendered fervent prayers for Mr. Adegboruwa and his team of lawyers.
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