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General News of Monday, 15 November 2021

Source: www.sunnewsonline.com

Lagos asks trial judge to recuse himself from conducting any further proceedings

The photo used to illustrate the story The photo used to illustrate the story

Lagos State Government has asked Justice David Osiagor of the Federal High Court, Lagos, to recuse himself from conducting any further proceedings in a suit filed by Retired Admiral Festus Porbeni.

In the application filed by a state prosecutor, Adebayo Haroun, on behalf of the first and third defendants, the state maintained that it was not confident of getting a fair hearing before the court, owing to the refusal of Justice Osiagor to hear its pending application.

Porbeni had filed a suit to challenge the alleged demolition of his property located at B20, Wole Olateju Crescent, off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos state.

The retired military officer and his company, Admiralty Fleet Limited (BICS Garden), had instituted the suit against the Attorney General, who is listed as the first defendant, National Inland Waterways Authority (the second defendant) and the Chairman, Lagos State Task Force, who is the third defendant.

The plaintiffs urged the court to declare that the alleged invasion of their premises by the defendants amounted to trespass and a breach of the plaintiff’s fundamental right to own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria, guaranteed by Section 43 of the Constitution.

But, in the application filed by the state government, Haroun argued that Justice Osiagor had refused to hear its application dated Friday, October 15, 2021, challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, to hear and determine “a matter pertaining to land”.

He submitted that while the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court was still pending, the judge decided to hear and grant an application for an injunction in favour of the plaintiffs.

The lawyer also stated that on Friday, November 5, 2021, the court, again, ignored and refused to take either the pending application challenging its jurisdiction or the application for stay of execution, pending the determination of an appeal filed by the defendants, on Friday, October 22, 2021, but went on to further direct the defendants to vacate the land.

Haroun further stated that on Monday, November 1, 2021, the Attorney General of Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), wrote a letter to the Chief Judge (HCJ) of the Federal High Court, requesting the HCJ to transfer the case file of the matter to another court.

He also stated that the court granted the order of injunction on Monday, October 18, 2021, despite being made aware that the act for which an injunction was being sought was a completed act.

In an affidavit filed in support of the application and deposed to by Saka Agbedina, a litigation clerk in the Ministry of Justice, the state averred that the government or its agents were not and had never been on the land in dispute.

Agbedina stated that the only business the Lagos State Special Task Force had on the land in dispute was to remove the encroachers or land grabbers found on the land on Sunday, October 24, 2021, by the Lagos State Property Protection Law of 2016.

He also claimed that since the Lagos State Task Force on Land Grabbers handed over possession to Tetrazzini Food Limited, neither the Lagos State Government nor any of its agencies have returned to the land.

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