Posted by News Express | 22 June 2017 | 1,009 times
Court stops Lagos from further evictions at Otodo Gbame
A Lagos High Court sitting in the Igbosere area of Lagos Island has restrained the state government from carrying out further forcible eviction of settlers of several waterfront communities, declaring the action as unconstitutional.
Justice Surajudeen Onigbangbo made the order while delivering judgment in a suit brought last year by 33 applicants on behalf of themselves and other residents of the settlements.
The settlements include Otodo Gbame, Tomaro, Otumara, Orisunmibare, Oko Agbon, Itun Atan, Sogunro, the Ikorodu communities of Ofin, Bayeku, Olufunke Majidun and the Bariga communities of Ago Egun and Ebute-Ilaje.
The state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, the Governor and the Commissioner of Police are the first, second, third and fourth respondents in the case.
The judge also ordered both parties to begin talks on how to resolve the relocation of the residents.
Judgment in the suit stalled since April 12, when the court, on its own motion, raised the issue of its jurisdiction.
But yesterday, Justice Onigbangbo ruled that the matter was properly before the court.
The judge observed, among others, that the gulf between both parties was not as insurmountable as they made it appear and that there was no dispute over the ownership of the land.
“The land occupied by the applicants is under the control and the management of the executive governor of the state.
“From the affidavit evidence made available to me, the applicants never claimed ownership of the land, but have over the years settled on the land. It will be wrong for them to be forcibly evicted from a land they have been on for several years.” Justice Onigbangbo said.
He added: “The respondents’ failure to provide alternative settlements before embarking on the forcible eviction of the applicants is unconstitutional.
“Both parties are hereby ordered to carry out proper consultation on how to resolve the relocation of the applicants.
“The respondents are hereby restrained from further carrying out evictions of the applicants from the settlements if alternative settlements are not made available.”
Before delivering judgment, Justice Onigbangbo cautioned Megan Chapman, the co-director of Justice Empowerment Initiatives, a community-based legal and empowerment organisation which represents the residents of Otodo Gbame.
The judge on April 25, disclosed that Ms Chapman had written him a letter, details of which he did not make public.
He said: “I know you did what you did out of ignorance. I don’t know how it works in your country, but here litigants don’t write directly to the judge.” (Channels TV)
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