How police and thugs invaded and destroyed Lagos clubhouse despite Supreme Court land case

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The management of Ikeja Saddle Club in the Isheri / Olowora region of Lagos State petitioned the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 2, Onikan, Johnson Kokumo, for invading his ownership by thugs in cahoots with police from the zone command. .

Club president Wole Osinupebi said PUNCH that about sixty thugs invaded the club on September 23, 2021, destroyed certain structures with a bulldozer and felled trees on the premises under the surveillance of cops and armed men in civilian clothes, numbering about forty.

Police reportedly arrested four club staff and chased others away.

Osinupebi said it took the intervention of Lagos State Attorney General and Justice Commissioner Moyosore Onigbajo before Kokumo called on his men to put the club’s demolition on hold at around 5 p.m. the next day. .

Two families, the Ikumoworo family and the Olofin Chieftaincy family, disagree over ownership of the land the club said it bought from the state government in 1975 and obtained a certificate of occupancy.

Sunday PUNCH has learned that the parties have been embroiled in a legal battle at the Lagos High Court, the Court of Appeal and are now before the Supreme Court where a stay of execution notice has been filed.

In the petition dated September 24, 2021 and titled “Re: Illegal Invasion, Forced Takeover and Destruction of Land and Property of the Ikeja Saddle Club, located in Olowora / Isheri Road Olowora, Ojodu Berger, Lagos State”, the management club, through his lawyer, Femi Okunnu & Co, said he was shocked by the illegal execution as the appeal to the Supreme Court has yet to be determined.

The petition read: “We were informed by our client that in the early hours of Thursday, September 24, 2021, heavily armed and stern-looking police officers alongside other armed and plainclothes men without warning invaded the land and our client’s property and seized all of the land and property. They refused to reveal where they came from and who sent them to invade our client’s lands.

“But the gunmen bellowed threateningly that they were there to grab the land without fail and that no one could stop or drive them away. Like in a movie, they gathered all the staff, including the grooms who fed and looked after the horses in their stable. They arrested four of our client’s staff and chased away the remaining workers.

“Some of the policemen took our client’s staff to an unknown destination and other policemen and stern-looking armed plainclothes stood guard while other people, numbering about 60 who came with them. policemen and men in plain clothes with stern-looking armed men systematically started destroying our client’s property.

“They took the roof off the reception area, brought a chainsaw, and started cutting and felling trees in the compound. They boasted that they brought in bulldozers to completely tear down the clubhouse, reception area and other buildings on the grounds and cut down and uproot all the trees on our client’s grounds.

The club reportedly found out later that day that the police were coming from the AIG office in Zone 2 when an investigating police officer, one Opue Aju, called on the line of one of the arrested workers.

The petition alleged that the illegal invasion was carried out at the behest of the Ikumoworo family led by Princess Josephine Momoh who claimed to have obtained a judgment from the State High Court rendered by Judge Babajide Candide-Johnson on May 3, 2016 .

He said: “They asserted that the judgment of the High Court declared them owners of the said land and that the said judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal in a judgment issued on November 14, 2019. They further asserted that they had sold the area of ​​the land occupied by our client to a certain Alhaji who could not take possession of the property because our client is on the land.

The petition, however, stated that the land claimed by the club was part of the overall 1969 acquisition of 7,300 acres from the Lagos State Government under the Omole Phase II, Isheri, Ikeja region. of State.

“Please note that at our client’s request on or about June 1974, the Lagos State Government allocated a parcel of land in Olowora near Isheri on July 8, 1975 to the Ikeja Saddle Club. Our client has immediately took possession of the plot of land and has been so to this day.

“Our client then applied for and obtained a Certificate of Occupancy dated February 4, 1997, registered under number 95 on page 95 of volume 1997A from the Land Registry Office of Lagos State in Nigeria, Ikeja. Our client is the lawful occupier and owner of the land and property known as the Ikeja Saddle Club. Our client has owned the property since 1975 without any tenancy or hindrance, ”the petition states.

He said the Olofin chiefdom family appealed against the judgment of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court in appeal no SC.386 / 2019 while a request for a stay of execution was filed with the Court. Apex.

The appellants also sought an order prohibiting Momoh and the Ikumoworo family from enforcing the judgment pending the hearing and decision of the appeal. The application for a stay of execution was reportedly served on Momoh and the representative of the Ikumoworo family.

The petition added: “It may be of interest to the Deputy Inspector General of Police to know that the appeal was taken to the Supreme Court on February 22, 2021 and was adjourned to October 11, 2022 for hearing. The Ikumoworo family and Princess Joséphine Momoh are aware of this appeal and have also filed their respondents’ brief in the matter.

“The Lagos State Government which acquired the land in 1969 and also issued the Certificate of Occupation to our client was also a party to the action in the Lagos High Court. They also appealed against the judgment to the Court of Appeal. This appeal is pending before the Lagos Court of Appeal.

“You can clearly see that the land title is contested by the parties. The case is before the courts and (is) therefore clearly pending. In addition, the police have no power under the law when land title is contested and pending in court. In this case, the land title is contested before the Lagos Court of Appeal and the Abuja Supreme Court.

The petitioner said that in February 2020, the Ikumoworo family and Momoh sought to enforce the judgment, but the enforcement was suspended when the sheriffs of the Lagos High Court realized the case was being appealed to the court. supreme.

The court reportedly warned the Ikumoworo and Momoh family not to take any action that would put them in the face of a fait accompli when their attention was drawn to the attempted execution of the judgment on February 22, 2021.

Former Momoh and Ikumoworo family lawyer Qudus Mumuney said Sunday PUNCH that he had ended his service to clients.

But Momoh, who spoke to our correspondent on the phone on Wednesday, said only his current lawyer, Dada Awosika (SAN), could speak in detail about the case.

She said, “Contact my lawyer. It is not me who takes the place. I have already sold the place to an Alhaji. It is my property and I have everything to prove it. They chased us away and injured my staff. Now we have come back to take back our land. It is our property.

When asked if she knew the case was before the Supreme Court, she responded angrily, saying, “I don’t know what you are talking about. They are not the ones who took us to the Supreme Court.

Awosika said the thugs were not involved in the clubhouse invasion, adding that police were investigating petitions about it.

He said, “The thugs did not invade the place; it was the police. There is a petition (from the Ikeja Saddle Club) and Princess Momoh has also written her own side of the story. The police are investigating. The club did not appeal to the Supreme Court. The execution of the judgment of the tribunal de grande instance was carried out and one of the parties appealed.

“The judgment is against both the Lagos State government and the Olofin family and Ikeja Saddle Club got their own allowance from the state government and it is the same judgment that overturned everything the government did on this earth. ”

When asked if it was fair to enforce the judgment when part of the same country had appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, the lawyer simply replied: “It is up to the court to do so. determine.

He added: “I was not involved in the case in the High Court and I was not involved in the Court of Appeal. I was only asked (by Momoh and the Ikumoworo family) to lead them to the Supreme Court.

Zone 2 police public relations officer Hauwa Idris-Adamu had yet to respond to our correspondent’s investigation of the petition at press time.

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