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Osapa Village (Lagos) Land: Eletu Family tackles Afe Babalola over use of ICPC, by Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa

By News Express on 27/08/2015

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On July 12, 2013, the Supreme Court confirmed the ownership of the Eletu family of Osapa Village, as owners of a vast expanse of land, in the case of Major Muritala Gbadamosi, Rtd. V. HRH Oba Tijani Adetunji Akinloye, Suit No. SC.146/2005, now registered as No.29 on Page 29 in Volume 2432 of the Register of Deed kept at the Lagos State Land Registry, Lagos, Nigeria.

At all material times, the law firm of Chief Afe Babalola’s Chambers was one of several law firms, engaged by the Eletu family, either for the prosecution or for the defence of their various interests, in the course of the above case, from the High Court of Lagos State, to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

At no time did our clients execute any document, appointing any single law firm, for any exclusive retainership, over their said family land, but they had always consulted with all their solicitors, involved in the above cases, either directly or indirectly.

The Eletu family had some challenges, in the execution of the above judgment, warranting several options and the need to consult very widely and also engage several law firms, estate surveyors and valuers, accountants, other experts and professionals, to be able to reap the fruit of the judgment.

The law firm of Afe Babalola’s Chambers, as one of the law firms engaged in the course of the above cases, has now authored a petition, to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in respect of Eletu private family land, in consequence of which principal members of the family, their assignees, solicitors, surveyor and other consultants, are now daily being harassed and harangued, to appear before the ICPC, in response to an alleged investigation, concerning private family property.

The Eletu family had at all relevant times, sought audience with the law firm of Afe Babalola’s Chambers, to sort out issues relating to alleged false procurement of the signature of some principal members of the Eletu Family, appearing on a document purporting to be an agreement, between the family and the said law firm and also the validity of capturing their domestic transaction, in foreign currency, without much success.

Notwithstanding the above, the Eletu family had caused to be remitted, to the bank account of Afe Babalola’s Chambers, the sum of Two Hundred Million Naira Only, on or about August 5, 2015, in response to the constant pressures from the said firm, which is now procuring the ICPC, to oppress the family and its agents, lawyers, surveyor and contract partners.

One cannot but wonder about the locus standi of the said law firm, of Afe Babalola’s Chambers, to author any petition to the ICPC, in respect of Eletu private family land transactions, and now leading to the invitation of their assignees and even very senior members of the Bar, before the ICPC, in Abuja, in respect of private contractual transactions, to which neither the commission, nor the law firm of Afe Babalola’s Chambers, are privy to.

From all the foregoing, this is nothing but a clear case of abuse of office and undue intermeddling in private family land matters, by the ICPC, which seem now to have been procured, mainly to scuttle on-going contractual transactions, entered into by the Eletu family and for which they may become liable in substantial damages, should the ICPC continue with its present acts of intimidation and harassment, of their contract partners and assignees and even their solicitors.

We believe that the relationship between the law firm of Afe Babalola’s Chambers and Eletu family, cannot translate into any corrupt practices, as members of the family are not public officers and they have not received any brief from any government functionary, in respect of their private family land. The intervention of the State Government which was not a party to the land dispute prevented the family from executing the judgment for the sake of maintaining peace, law and order in the area, with the understanding that a replacement land will be earmarked and allocated to the family in satisfaction of the judgment.

Being dissatisfied with the way and manner that the ICPC has been procured in this matter, the Eletu family filed Suit No.FHC/L/CS/1315/2015, at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, against the ICPC, on Monday, August 24, 2015, to enforce their fundamental rights against arbitrary arrest and detention, and seeking for the following reliefs:

“A. A DECLARATION that the invitation of the applicants by the 1st respondent, in respect of civil land transaction and the threatened infringement of the applicants’ rights constitutes a flagrant violation of the Applicants’ fundamental rights guaranteed under sections 37, 38, 40 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Articles 4, 5, 6, 9, 12 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

B. A DECLARATION that every undertaking that may forcefully be extracted from the Applicants by the 1st respondent, to pay money to any person(s), to surrender land to anybody and any such money paid or to be paid to any person(s) in respect of any civil land transaction is illegal, ineffective, unenforceable, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.

C. A DECLARATION that the Applicants are entitled to their liberty and freedom without let or hindrance from the Respondents, their agents, servants, officers or otherwise howsoever in exercise of their fundamental rights guaranteed under sections 35, 38, 40 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Articles 4, 5, 6, 9, 12 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

D. A DECLARATION that the statutory duties of the 1st respondent do not cover or extend to intervention in civil transactions willingly entered into by citizens and therefore it is not entitled to invite, arrest or detain any of the applicants on account of such transactions.

E. A DECLARATION that the investigative activities of the 1st respondent into the civil transaction conducted among the applicants and their privies is ultra vires the 1strespondent, and is therefore unconstitutional, null and void.

F. A DECLARATION that the invitation of the applicants by the 1strespondent, in respect of civil land transaction and the threatened infringement of the applicants’ rights constitutes a flagrant violation of the Applicants’ fundamental rights guaranteed under sections 37, 38, 40 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Articles 4, 5, 6, 9, 12 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

G. A DECLARATION that every undertaking that may forcefully be extracted from the Applicants by the 1st respondent, to pay money to any person(s), to surrender land to anybody and any such money paid or to be paid to any person(s) in respect of any civil land transaction is illegal, ineffective, unenforceable, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.

H. A DECLARATION that the Applicants are entitled to their liberty and freedom without let or hindrance from the Respondents, their agents, servants, officers or otherwise howsoever in exercise of their fundamental rights guaranteed under sections 35, 38, 40 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Articles 4, 5, 6, 9, 12 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

I. A DECLARATION that the applicants are entitled to decline to participate in any meeting, conference, dialogue or forum organised, convened or summoned by the 1strespondent in respect to land transactions involving the applicants without any threat to their liberty and freedom in exercise  of the applicants’ fundamental rights guaranteed under sections 33, 34, 35, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, and 44 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Articles 4, 5, 6, 12 &14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

J. AN INJUNCTION restraining the 1stRespondent, whether by itself, its servants, agents, officers or otherwise howsoever from further violating the fundamental rights of the Applicants through unlawful invitation, arrest and detention except and in a manner permitted and sanctioned by law.

K. AN INJUNCTION restraining the respondents whether by itself, its servants, agents, officers or otherwise howsoever from compelling the applicants, either by threat of arrest, detention or prosecution, to attend any meeting convened by the 1st respondent for the purpose of  a civil  transactions conducted by the  applicants in respect of Osapa Village family land.

L. AN INJUNCTION restraining the respondents whether by itself, its servants, its servants, agents or officers or otherwise howsoever from further persecuting, trailing or in any other manner taking steps that may jeopardise the liberty, freedom and life of the applicants except and in a manner permitted and sanctioned by law.

M. SUCH FURTHER OR OTHER ORDERS that this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this suit.”

No date has been assigned for the hearing of the suit yet, the details of which are herewith attached.

•Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa is lawyer representing the Eletu Family in the land case. Photo shows Afe Babalola, SAN.

Source News Express

Posted 26/08/2015 10:01:43 PM

 

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