By Jude Njoku
A retired banker, Mr. Mathias Chuma Muomah has dragged a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Bayo Osinowo popularly known as Pepper to the Lagos High Court, Ikeja for alleged trespass of his property situated at No 66 Adekunle Banjo Avenue, Off CMD Road, Shangisha.
Joined as defendants in the suit documented as ID/1154LMW/15, are Mr. Alaba Osunaike also known as Saipon, the Attorney -General of Lagos State and persons unknown.
In the suit which was filed on his behalf by Mr Emeka Opara of City of Law chambers, Ikeja, the claimant is seeking among others, a declaration that he is the rightful owner and is entitled to the right of occupancy of the property (land) situated at and known as 66 Adekunle Banjo Avenue, Off CMD Road, Shangisha, Lagos State and covered by survey plan No AOO/793/007/2011/LA dated 23/02/2011 and drawn by A.O. Oyegbola, registered surveyor; N50 million damages for trespass against the defendants, N100 million as aggravated/exemplary damages and a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, the agents, privies, servants and any person working for or through them from trespassing on the said land and from in any way interfering with the claimant’s possession of the land.
In 59-.point statement of claim and affidavit in support of the suit, Mr. Muomah alleged that the disputed property formed a large tract originally owned and exclusively occupied by Alhaja Jimoh Balogun Family prior to the Land Use Act of 1978 and who trace their ownership from time immemorial.
According to him, Alhaja Jimoh balogun Family sold the property to one Chief James Oyelowo who had the land surveyed and which survey is shown on Plan No. AT/LA4685 of 8th October, 1984.
He further claimed that Chief James Oyelowo assigned all his interest on the land in 1998 to Mr Erhunmwunsee Evbudmwan Unity who thereafter assigned all his interest in the land to Mr. Elias Igbin-Akenzua who also went into possession and in the year 2001, sold the property to Chief Muritala Ajishola Shonubi.
Chief Shunubi, according to the claimant, had the property surveyed and the survey plan is shown on Plan No. S/L/901/2001 dated 20/12/2001 and drawn by S.O. Soipe & Co.
“Chief Muritala Ajishola Shonubi was in exclusive undisturbed possession of the property until 2010 when he sold the property to the claimant who went into immediate, undisturbed and exclusive possession thereof and had the property surveyed in his name on the Plan No. AOO/793/007/2011/LA dated 23/02/20111 and drawn by A.O. Oyegbola, a registered surveyor”.
The claimant alleged that Chief Shonubi issued him a purchase receipt dated 19/12/2010, a Power of Attorney executed on 19/12/2010 and a Deed of Assignment made on the 12th day of December, 2011. He (Shonubi) also handed over to the claimant certain prior documents of title from his predecessors -in title.
The Claimant asserted that the sale of the property to him was facilitated by Mrs. Y.A. Ogunbiyi of Positive Property Limited who acted as the agent of Chief Shonubi in the transaction.
Mr Muomah claimed that he has been in the process of regularizing the land with the Ministry of Lands in accordance with the law when on February 20, 2014, three men and a woman tried to trespass on the property, making effort to gain entrance into the property through the rear gate on Samuel Durojaiye Street. The Claimant alleged that when he challenged them, they claimed to be from the Lands Bureau of the Ministry of Lands, Alausa and that they were sent to survey the land.
According to the Claimant, the men who could not produce their identity cards were later reported to the Magodo Police Post.
When the men were asked who owns the property, they said they did not know. In the commotion, one of them escaped, leaving behind two men and a woman.
Subsequently, policemen from Ketu Police Station came on the scene on the orders of the Area Commander who was called by the First Defendant.
At Ketu Police Station, the Claimant alleged that the First Defendant disclaimed any further interest on the said property and didn’t want the matter to go beyond that police station.
From thence till June 12, 2015, there was no further disturbance to the Claimant’s possession of the land or ownership of same. The Claimant said he leased the property for ten years to Messrs Eat n Go Ltd which is the franchise for all Domino’s Pizza restaurants in Nigeria.
The lessee allegedly commenced building on the property sometime in May 2015 and by June 12, 2015, the construction had gone beyond the foundation and DPC levels. But while work was ongoing, the Claimant alleged that 12/06/2015, two persons came with policemen from Ogudu Police Post and told the workers to stop work and locked up the site.
The Claimant further alleged that while the matter was reported to the Police and still pending, agents of the first Defendant came at about 2.am on 17/6/2015 and destroyed much of the construction done on the land.
He also alleged that on Sunday, June 21, 2015, “in an early morning raid, thugs of the first Defendant led by the second Defendant, came upon the construction site, demolished the perimeter wall and part of the building and threatened they would kidnap, maim and kill anybody found working on the site.”