Suspected hoodlums have invaded the property of a 75-year-old widow, Mrs Kehinde Agbetanmije, destroying a structure on it.
This was despite the intervention of the Lagos State Special Task Force on Land Grabbers, which asked parties in the matter to keep off the land.
PUNCH Metro had reported that the hoodlums first invaded the property on Adetayo Street, Alake, Ikotun-Idimu Road, Lagos, on Monday, February 1, 2021.
They were said to have immediately built a fence around it and mounted a gate, while threatening the widow and her daughter, Mrs Olayemi Oshinlusi.
Oshinlusi alleged that enquiries by her family showed that a prince in the community, Idris Balogun, aka Oluomo, was behind the forced takeover of the property.
Her family subsequently petitioned the Lagos State land grabbers’ task force, urging the government to intervene.
Our correspondent was told that the prince, the widow and members of her family were summoned to a meeting by the task force last Friday.
Oshinlusi said after the parties presented their arguments, hearing on the matter was adjourned till April 6, 2020.
She said, “We told them at the meeting that there was a bakery structure on the land. A government official who presided over the meeting said the status quo should remain and they should not go to our land.
“We had the meeting on Friday. But by Saturday morning, some people went early to the land and pulled down the structure.”
Balogun, while initially reacting to the allegation that he sent hoodlums to take over the property, told our reporter that another member of his family was behind it.
He also claimed that his family obtained a High Court judgement which ceded a large portion of the community land to them, adding that the claims of the widow and her family to the land were illegal.
According to him, after over 30 years in court, the Isheri Olofin family defeated their rival, the Olorunfunmi family, in suit number ID/488/80, in a judgement delivered on May 15, 2012, by Justice Lawal Akapo of the Lagos State High Court. ,,
However, findings by our correspondent revealed that the defeated family went to the Court of Appeal in 2013 in suit number CAL/662a/013, to challenge the judgement. The parties were ordered to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the appeal.
Despite the ruling, Balogun and members of his family were alleged to have been forcefully enforcing the suspended judgement.
The Olorunfunmi family, in a petition to the Lagos State Government in 2019, accused Balogun and the Isheri Olofin family of invasion of residents’ properties in disregard to the appeal court ruling.
The Lagos land grabbers’ task force, headed by Owolabi Arole, while resolving that matter, warned the parties to obey the court ruling and maintain the status quo.
The traditional ruler of Isheri-Olofin subsequently issued a statement acknowledging the appeal court ruling, adding that he had complied with it.
A member of the Olorunfunmi family, who did not want to be identified, confirmed that the appeal was still ongoing.
He noted that the case had been stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Agbetanmije’s land is also covered by the appeal,” he added.
A lawyer for the Olorunfunmi family, Gabriel Ibiwoye, said there was no basis for the execution of the High Court judgement.
He said, “The appeal is still subsisting, so nobody can execute anything until the matter is decided.”
When our correspondent reached out to Balogun for his view on the appeal court ruling, he said the “status quo” meant the High Court judgement should be executed.
He declined further comment on the phone, saying he wanted to meet our correspondent.
One Saheed Olowu, whose contact Balogun forwarded to our reporter as a principal member of his family, said he was busy and asked PUNCH Metro to call back.
When our reporter called him back, he also insisted on a meeting.
Our correspondent reached out to Balogun’s lawyer, Oyebola Odeleye, and informed him of his client’s interpretation of the ruling.
He claimed not to be aware of the court of appeal ruling and urged the reporter to send him online links.
After receiving links to reports on the matter, Odeleye declined comment on it and asked our correspondent to meet the prince at his office if he wanted a reaction.
The Chairman of the Lagos State Special Task Force on Land Grabbers, Arole, confirmed the Friday meeting at the task force’s office.
Asked if he was also aware of the appeal court ruling, he said he had asked the Agbetanmije family to produce their survey plan at the next hearing of the matter.
He said the plan would enable the task force to know if the property was covered by the ruling.
The widow’s daughter, Oshinlusi, said her family purchase receipt showed they bought the property from the Madarinkan family, a branch of the Olorunfunmi family.