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CHIEF CHARLES ADU & ORS v. LAGOS STATE TASK FORCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND SPECIAL OFFENCES UNIT & ORS

(2016) LPELR-40060(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Tuesday, the 23rd day of February, 2016

CA/L/972M/2014


Before Their Lordships

SIDI DAUDA BAGE Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

JOSEPH SHAGBAOR IKYEGH Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

YARGATA BYENCHIT NIMPAR Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

(1) CHIEF CHARLES ADU
(2) CHIEF JOSHUA MEDEPO
(3) MR OLUSEYI ADELEYE
(4) MR AFOLABI OLUKOYA
(5)MR. ADEBIYI JOHNSON
(6) ALHAJI OWOLABI AJALA
(7) MR IWUEZE EMMANUEL
(8) ALHAJI ISIAKA OBABIYI
(9) MR SALAMI LUKUMAN
(10) MR CHRISTIAN DAMIAN
(11) PROPHET SAMSON IWATOMO
(12) MR ENEANYA CHARLES
(13) MR JUSTTCE OVEMURAI
(14) MR PETER OKWA
(15) ALHAJI KOLAWOLE ADEWUNMI
(16) MR ADEDEJI IBRAHIM
(17) MR OLAWOLE ADIGUN
(18) MR ALAO ALAPANLA
(19) MR OLANIPEKUN AYANLEYE
(20) MR AFOLABI KEHINDE
(21) MR CHRTSTOPHER AKPICHE
(22) MR OLADIMEJI OLUWASEUN
(Suing for themselves and on behalf of the Landlords/house owners and residents of Atinporome Community, Araromi Ale Extension Community and Mowo Phase 2 Community) - Appellant(s)

AND

1. LAGOS STATE TASK FORCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND SPECIAL OFFENCES UNIT

2. LAGOS STATE MINISTRY OF PHYSICAL PLANNING
AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

3. LAGOS STATE LANDS BUREAU

4. ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF LAGOS STATE

5. INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE (IGP)

6. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE LAGOS STATE

7. AREA COMMANDER AREA 'K' POLICE COMMAND

8. ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION - Respondent(s)


Summary

INTRODUCTION This appeal borders on civil procedure. FACTS It is an appeal against the Ruling of the High Court of Lagos State, delivered by the Hon. Justice Y. A. Adesanya. The Appellants who are residents of 3 communities namely: Atinporomeh, Araromi Ale Extension and Mowo Phase 2 (all in Badagry Area of Lagos) have lived in these communities over the years. On the 14th of December 2013, Appellants received a letter from the 5th-7th Respondents (the police) alleging that the place which, they live had since been acquired by the 1st - 4th Respondents (the Lagos State Government) and allocated to them. Even though the said letter was addressed to the Baale of Atinporome (one of the 3 communities), the subheading of the letter complained of encroachment of police land in a different community called Agemowo / Ageledo and not Atinporome or Araromi Ale or Mowo Phase II extension, which is the Appellants' community. In a swift reaction, the Appellants replied the police the next day though their counsel and informed them that their letter was misdirected. The police of course ignored the letter. Two days later, the Appellants were rudely and shockingly woken up by the presence of over 100 heavily armed officers and men of the 5th - 7th Respondent who invaded their community. They also came with about 16 Black Maria vehicles and 12 bulldozer and compulsorily acquired the Appellants' properties by pulling down all their houses amidst wailings, tears and frustrations. The operation lasted for two days and at the end of the operation the Appellants' houses and over 1,500 other houses belonging to other residents in the 3 communities of Atinporomeh, Araromi Ale and Mowo Phase II extension were completely demolished hence leaving them homeless. As the demolition was going on the Appellants who dared to complain or explain or take photographs of the demolition exercise were beaten up, arrested tortured and detained to silence and intimidate them. None of them was allowed to remove a pin from their houses. Appellants then approached the High Court of Lagos sitting in Badagry and alleged that their fundamental rights have been infringed upon. Upon service of the processes on the Respondents, the 1st - 4th Respondents raised a preliminary objection and contended that the Appellants' suit is predicated on title to land and that to that extent, the suit was wrongly commenced vide a fundamental rights procedure. The trial Court upheld the objection and struck out appellants' action. Appellants appealed. ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION The Court suo motu distilled a sole issue for determination of the appeal thus: "Whether it was proper for the Appellant to commence this suit under the fundamental Right Enforcement Procedure Rules 2002 to entitle the Court to jurisdiction over the matter" HELD The appeal was found meritorious and was allowed. The decision of the trial Court was set aside and the case file sent back to the Chief Judge of Lagos State, for a fresh trial before another judge other than Hon. Justice Y. A. Adesanya.


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