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Legal tussle over Isheri-Oke disputed land shifts to Supreme Court

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The legal tussle between the Ikumoworo and Olofin families over the Isheri-Oke disputed land has been taken to the Supreme Court. The land in contention is situated at Old Olowora Road, Isheri-oke, Lagos State. In its appeal instituted before the Supreme Court over the judgement delivered by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal which on March 16, 2022, upturned the judgment delivered by Justice Yetunde Idowu in favour of Princess Josephine Momoh, Ikumoworo family’s lawyer, Princess Josephine Momoh, stated that “The court erred in law when it held that the testimony of the appellant on the traditional history of the Ikumoworo family was very porous and inconclusive because neither PW2 nor PW4 testified on the details of intervening owners through whom they claimed the land, and thereby came to a perverse decision occasioning a serious miscarriage of justice to the appellant. “The pleadings and evidence of PW2 and PW4 agree on the fact that their progenitor was Ikumoworo and that he deforested a large portion of land, including the land in dispute.

“The evidence of subsequent or intervening owners of part of the land in dispute cannot override or be superior to the evidence given of the first settler and founder of the large parcel of land including the land in dispute. “Therefore the Justices of the Court below did not properly evaluate the evidence of the traditional history of the family as the owner of the land in dispute.

“The Court of Appeal erred in law when on page 30 of its judgment it relied on the judgments tendered as Exhibit N, 0, 01 & Y to find in favour of the respondents as the owner of the land in dispute and thereby came to a perverse decision occasioning a serious miscarriage of justice to the appellant.” It would be recalled that Justice Idowu of a Lagos High Court, had on July 16, 2009, delivered a judgement in the suit designated ID/1664/1999 filed by Princess Momoh against Oba Nurudeen Adekanbi, the Olofin of Isheri for himself and on behalf of Olofin family, restraining them from trespassing on the disputed land.

Aside from the traditional ruler, others in the suit are; Mr. Lasisi Kudoro, Mr. Bashiru Kudoro for themselves and on behalf of the other members of Kudoro’s family, as well as Akin Kudoro Adisa Adejonwo, Mr Yinka Ajenifuja and Unknown trespassers/as first to fifth respondents respectively. Momoh, the claimant at the lower court had prayed the court for a declaration that the claimant as Attorney for the Kumoworo family is entitled to the statutory right of occupancy over all that piece or parcel of land situated, lying and being at Isheri, Lagos State of Nigeria which land was released to the original owners by the Lagos State Government and which land is more particularly described and edged ‘RED’ on the attached survey plan No. TJ/LA/114/76 dated 26th December 1976 and made by Surveyor J. Theophilus John, licensed Surveyor and composite plan No. OYE/452/052/056/03 made by Surveyor B. Olusanya licensed Surveyor. Justice Idowu had held that “I find the evidence of the claimant and witnesses to be cogent and highly probable, as opposed to the confused and contradictory evidence of defendants and witnesses.

“I am inclined to exercise my discretion in favour of the claimant. The declaration sought is accordingly granted. I am unable to grant the prayer of the defendants/ counter-claimants in the sought declaration. “The equitable interest and possession of the claimant within the purview of the provisions of Section 34(5) and (6) of Land Act 1976, and she would be entitled to the statutory right of occupancy respect of the disputed land. “I hold that the claimant was in possession of the land before the defendants trespassed thereon. “Trespass is actionable per so without proof of damages. On the issue of general and special damages and the claimant has claimed N990,000.00.”

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