By Daud Olatunji
ABEOKUTA—TWO prominent Egba personalities, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and High Chief Alani Bankole have locked horns over a disputed land.
Vanguard gathered that long before this moment, the duo had been relating well. In fact, the relationship was described as a political godfather and son.
But the latest development indicated that the relationship had been severed irrevocably. It was further gathered that the matter would not have become a legal issue if the moves by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo had succeeded in brokering the peace between them.
Further findings have shown that meetings were held with both Amosun and Bankole at the instance of the Alake at the palace but, the meeting ended in a deadlock.
It was gathered that the disputed land went into road construction during the expansion of the Ibara-Oke-Sokori-Totoro road.
Documents obtained by South-West Voice revealed that the crisis began in 2012, a year after the governor was sworn-in when he reportedly indicated interest to acquire a land located at Plot 1, BlockVI, Ibara Commercial Centre in Abeokuta with Certificate of Occupancy registered as 30/30/491 at the Lands Registry through a notice of acquisition that the governor personally signed.
The document also revealed that Chief Bankole bought the land in 2009 from one Chief Akinyemi.
After the peace move initiated by the Alake collapsed, Bankole who is the father of former Speaker of House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, approached the State High Court, Isabo and got a favourable judgement delivered by Justice Majekodunmi on March 10, 2014.
The judgement stated that the purported acquisition of the land is illegal, null, void and of no effect. Justice Majekodunmi also set aside the purported revocation of the claimant’s right of occupancy over the land.
The Judge, however, restrained the governor and his agents from disturbing the claimant’s possession of the property.
Four years after the first judgment, Bankole approached another court complaining of the alleged non-compliance with the court judgment by Amosun and his agents.
Bankole, in another suit, accused Amosun of erecting a perimeter fence on the land in December 2017. He fortunately got another favourable judgment delivered by Justice Mobolaji Ojo of the State High Court.
Following the failure of the state government to comply with the judgment, Bankole filed an amended originating summon dated February 2 this year but filed on February 5 before Justice Mobolaji Ojo at the High Court, Abeokuta.
Granting his prayers, the court ruled that the “purported revocation of the claimant’s right of occupancy vide notice of revocation dated 25th day, May 2012, is hereby set aside.”
Apparently not satisfied with the judgments, Amosun filed a counter affidavit and written address at an Appeal Court in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, which was brought to the notice of Ogun State High Court.
Justice Abiodun Akinyemi, in his ruling on the counter affidavit delivered on July 18, granted an injunction pending appeal “restraining the respondent from enforcing or taking any step to enforce the declaratory reliefs granted by the said judgment under relief 1 of the judgment,” adding that “there shall be no order as to cost.”
Meanwhile, Chief Bankole, petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, accusing Amosun of flouting a court order on the land matter involving him and the governor.
He alleged that Amosun and his agents had commenced work on the land, despite the judgments in his favour and the latest ruling ordering the two parties to desist from taking possession of the land pending the determination of the case in the appeal court.
He said the development made him to write a petition to the Inspector-General of Police to call the governor to order, “before the situation gets out of hand.”
Bankole further alleged that Amosun, through his agents, moved to the land at about 2.30 a.m on July 16 to evacuate everything on the land.
He said: “However, to my great surprise, while I took the ruling in good fate, Governor Amosun and his agents immediately moved to the land and commenced construction on it.”
In a counter move, Governor Amosun approached the Court for a stay of execution which was granted by Justice Akinyemi on July18, 2018.
Justice Akinyemi in his judgment order “an injunction pending appeal is granted restraining Bankole from enforcing or taking any step to enforce the declaratory reliefs granted by the said judgments under relief one of the judgment.
In a swift reaction, Amosun, through the Attorney- General of the State, Dr. Olumide Ayeni said he would not join issues with Chief Bankole on the pages of newspapers.
Ayeni said: “The matter you have made enquiries on are subjudice being subject matters of Appeal Nos. CA/IB/323/2018 and CA/IB/344/2018 at the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, sitting at Ibadan.
“As it is improper and indecorous as well as unethical to comment in the media on matters before the Court I’m afraid I will not speak on the subject of enquiry as I join issues only in court.”
Ogun Stakeholders react
Commenting on the dispute, some political parties seem to agree on the need to obey the rule of law.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the Action Democratic Party, ADP, the African Democratic Congress, ADC, and the Labour Party, LP, in the state all lent their voices and condemned the alleged takeover of the land despite the court judgments.
The Chairman of the PDP in the state, Bayo Dayo said: “The government that we have is a government that goes against the rule of law. We have a government in OgunSstate which does not bother about the court verdict. That has always been with the state government, they do not respect the rule of law.”
Also reacting, the Organising Secretary of the ADP, Chief Yinka Sosinde, said: “It is expected that a holder of such an office will be somebody that is above board, whose actions will be guided by the rule of law and respect for other arms of government but when you entrust leadership on someone that is highly vindictive, petty and intellectually bankrupt, the resultant effect is what we are witnessing in Ogun State today.
“We know that Governor Amosun is desperately after Chief Bankole for the simple reason that his son, Dimeji Bankole will be contesting for the governorship of the State in the next election. You will recall that for the flimsiest of all reasons, he shut the hitherto State Secretariat of the Action Democratic Party, ADP, in Ogun State. We didn’t join issues with him. Today, we are in a better location.
“This action of flagrant disobedience to Court Judgements by Governor Amosun, who is expected to be promoting rule of law is unfortunate, barbaric, and uncalled for. A threat to rule of law is a threat to democracy in Nigeria and Nigerians especially those that fought for our democracy can not watch Governor Amosun, out of desperation to install his stooge in 2019, create anarchy in Ogun State.
On its part, the African Democratic Congress, ADC, in the state said: “It has come to public notice, the uncharitable and irresponsible action of the APC administration under Senator Ibikunle Amosun for trampling upon the rule of law in the manner with which it decided to encroach upon the land of an illustrious Ogun state indigene, High Chief Alani Bankole; despite a subsisting court order.
Also toeing the line of other political parties in the state, the Labour Party Secretary, Sunday Ogini said: “The behaviour of Amosun is not in contrast to APC position on flagrant disobedience of court ordersý and judgments. Illegal taking over of Chief Alani Bankole’s land by the governor against the law court’s judgment is condemnable and ýtotal display of executive lawlessness.”