By Onozure Dania
Lagos—A Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere has stopped the Lagos State Government from further evicting settlers of several waterfront communities, in Lagos as it declared it unconstitutional.
Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo made the order yesterday while delivering judgment in a suit filed last year by 33 applicants on behalf of themselves and other residents of the settlements.
The settlements include Otodo Gbame, Tomaro, Otumara, Orisunmibare, Oko Agbon, Itun Atan, Sogunro, the Ikorodu communities of Ofin, Bayeku, Olufunke Majidun and the Bariga communities of Ago Egun and Ebute-Ilaje.
They filed the suit against the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, the governor and the Commissioner of Police who are the first, second, third and fourth respondents.
Justice Onigbanjo also ordered the parties to meet and discuss how to resolve the relocation of the residents.
The judgment in the suit which was stalled since April 12, when the court suo moto (on its own motion) raised the issue of its jurisdiction. While delivering the judgement yesterday, the judge held that the matter was properly before the court.
Justice Onigbanjo further, held among others, that the gulf between both parties wasn’t as insurmountable as they made it appear and that there was no dispute over the ownership of the land.
Earlier, before delivering judgment, Justice Onigbanjo had cautioned Megan Chapman, the co-director of Justice Empowerment Initiatives, a community-based legal and empowerment organisation which represents the residents of Otodo Gbame.
The judge on April 25, disclosed that Ms Chapman had written him a letter, details of which he didn’t make public. He said: “I know you did what you did out of ignorance. I don’t know how it works in your country, but here litigants don’t write directly to the judge.”