Kwara state government on Wednesday told the state High Court sitting in Ilorin that it will not do anything on the disputed late Dr Olusola Saraki’s land, otherwise known as Ile Arugbo pending the determination of the case at the court.
But the claimants (Asa Investments Limited) requested for a stay of further proceedings on the matter pending the determination of an appeal it filed at the Appeal Court, Ilorin against the August 6, 2020 ruling of the trial court.
Asa Investments Limited had in January this year secured an interim injunction restraining the state government from tampering with the property shortly after the state affected the demolition of structures on the disputed land.
The state High Court presided over by Justice Abiodun Adebara, had on August 6, this year, vacated the interim injunction granted the claimants and as well awarded costs against the claimants.
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Dissatisfied, the claimants challenged Justice Adebara’s ruling at the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division.
The applicants in the Motion on Notice filed before the appellate court and dated September 4, 2020, said that Justice Adebara’s ruling of August 6, 2020, has the effect of empowering the respondents to destroy the subject matter (Ile Arugbo) of the suit.
The applicants also sought an order of the appellate court staying proceedings in the suit on Ile Arugbo pending the hearing and determination of the appeal before it.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday at the state High Court, claimants’ counsel, Dr Akin Onigbinde (SAN), urged the court to adjourn proceedings pending the determination of the appeal the claimants filed before the appellate court.
Onigbide told the court that “I filed a letter dated September 21, 2020 notifying the court of a pending application before the Appeal Court, Ilorin. The application is against the decision of the trial court of August 6. The claimants are only exercising their constitutional right to appeal the decision of the trial court.
“Therefore, we humbly apply that this matter be adjourned pending the determination of the case at the appeal court”.
He cited both law and judicial decisions to support his application.
Counsel to the state government, who doubles as the Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner, Salman Jawondo opposed the application for the stay of proceedings on the matter.
Jawondo said that “we align ourselves with the submission of the claimants’ counsel that the application filed before the Appeal Court is an exercise of the claimants constitutional right.
Having said that, I will draw the court’s attention to a similar application filed by the claimants on August 13, 2020; that application and the current one are the same. What it means is that they are abusing the court
“As if that is not enough, the claimants also filed another application on September 9, 2020, seeking amendment of their
pleadings. September 14, 2020, they filed another application for extension of time within which to file an amendment of reply to the fifth defendant. These two are still pending.
“The question is that ‘is there any pending appeal in this matter?’ from the motion filed by the claimants before the Appeal Court and attached to the letter filed on the 21st September 2020, there is no pending appeal in this matter. In the absence of any pending appeal all the authorities cited by the claimant’s counsel are irrelevant
“Surprisingly, the learned counsel to the claimants did not make reference to our reply to their affidavit that we are not enforcing the N200,000 cost awarded against them in the August 6 ruling. We said in that reply that we are not going to the said land. This appeal is a stratagem to delay this case. This request for adjournment is in bad faith and an indirect way of seeking a stay of proceedings. I urge your lordship to refuse the application and allow the case to continue.
Fifth defendant (police) counsel, Aderemi Ajibola, aligned with the state government and urged the court to refuse the application.
Presiding Judge, Abiodun Adebara reserved ruling on the application till Thursday (September 24t).