Land tussle: Court awards N30m damages against Ogun govt

An Ogun State High Court sitting in Ota Judicial Division has awarded N30m against the state government as damages, for trespassing and destruction of buildings, crops belonging to Sokelu- Efulege family.

The court, in a judgement delivered by Justice O.O Majekodunmi, restrained the state government and its agents from entering or interfering with the parcel of land measuring 8.652 hectares.

The appellants, represented by n a suit number AB/330/2012 by Alhaji AbdulGaniu Kayode and four others dragged the State Attorney General, the State Bureau of Lands and Survey, the State Housing Corporation and four others before the court, for alleged illegal acquisition of their land.

According to the claimants, the land was taken over by the state government in 2006 for Asero Housing Estate Phase II, which was later allotted to individuals who had a connection with the government.

The appellants further argued that no notice of acquisition was served on them neither were they compensated as owners of the land.

However, the state government in its submission before the court said the land was properly acquired and that compensation was adequately paid.

It was also argued that the notice of acquisition was pasted on trees and rocks within the portion of the land, saying it was difficult to serve all the landowners.

The Presiding Judge said the claimants were able to establish the ownership of the land through descendancy of one Efulege who was the first settler on the land, saying that the ownership of the land was never in dispute.

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Justice Majekodunmi said the two witnesses called by the state government “could not produce any copy of the said notice and he admitted that there is no evidence in their office that the claimants were served.

“I find it difficult to believe the testimony of DW2. If the disputed land was thick bush with no visible house or structure, how come there were few farmers seen and served with the notices? The account of DW2 as regards service of the requisite notices just doesn’t make any sense.”

The Judge also queried one of the witnesses who was appointed into the service of the government in 2005 but giving evidence about an incident that happened in 2000.

He further held that none of the evidence given by the witnesses was able to establish the “fact that the occupiers of the disputed land were served with any notice of acquisition or were paid any compensation in respect of their land.

“It is also totally irresponsible and reprehensible for the 1st and 3rd Defendants to claim that payment of compensation is ongoing till date with respect to an acquisition which they claimed to have been done in 1974.

“It leaves a sour taste in my mouth that not only did the 1st – 3rd Defendant wrongfully jump on the Claimants’ land under the guise of purported acquisition, but they were illegally allocating of Sam’s to individuals, contrary to the intendment of the law in respect of acquisition for a public purpose.”

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