Court assumes jurisdiction in N10bn suit against Lafarge, others

Justice (Mrs) A.A Babawale of an Ogun State High Court sitting in Sagamu, has held that the court has jurisdiction to hear  a N10.5 billion suit instituted against Lafarge Africa Plc, Asiwaju Solomon Onafowokan and three others over alleged acquisition of over 2380 acres of their land.

The court further held that it was not willing to strike out the name of the Lafarge Africa Plc (1st defendant), from the suit at this stage.

The claimants, Abibu Sotunminu, Lasisi Adunmo, Ganiyu Sunmola, Alhaji Yekeen Oyeyemi and 35 others (for themselves and on behalf of members of WAPCO Sagamu Works Land Owners’ Association), had through their lawyer, Babatunde Oshilaja, sued Lafarge Africa Plc, Asiwaju  Onafowokan and Sagamu Community Development Committee (2nd defendant), over the disputed land.

Other defendants in the suit are Olotu-Omoba Michael Oyedele (3rd defendant), Asiwaju  Onafowokan, (4th defendant) and Eso-E Micro-Finance Bank limited (5th defendant), respectively.

But Asiwaju  Onafowokan and Eso-E Micro-Finance Bank Limited, in their Notice of Preliminary Objection filed by their lawyer, Michael Lana, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit on the grounds that there is no reasonable cause of action against the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants.

However, while ruling on the preliminary objection, Justice  Babawale,  held that the claimants’ grievance is in relation to deductions of certain money due to them, hence, it cannot be said that the suit did not disclose reasonable cause of action.

Justice Babawale held further that the argument canvassed by the defendants in their preliminary objections is incapable of defeating the respondents’ case at the preliminary stage when evidence is yet to be led by both sides.

Justice Babawale also ruled that the respondents can litigate in respect of issues which arose after the settlement agreement was executed.