A Lagos High Court presided over by Justice Oyekan Abdullahi, has declared Bela Vista Property Development Company Limited owner of Itedo land, which had been a subject of dispute and litigation between Bela Vista & co defendants on one hand, and some members of Itedo community as plaintiffs on the other hand.
Delivering his judgment on November 29, 2016, in a 20 year old Suit instituted by the Itedo Community against the Attorney General of Lagos State, Elegushi Property Investment Company Limited, Bela Vista Property Development Company Limited, Chief Kehinde Elegushi (Odofin of Ikate Land), Chief Lamidi Elegushi (Eletu of Ikate Land), Chief Karimu Bakare (Aro of Ikate Land) and Chief Morufu Elegushi (Olisa of Ikate Land), Justice Abdullahi, declared that the irrevocable Power of Attorney given to Bela Vista Property Development Company Limited by the Elegushi Property Investment Company Limited is valid and that the company is the owner of the entire land measuring 113.884 hectares covered by the irrevocable Power of Attorney, while also declaring that all persons presently occupying the land are encroachers.
The Court therefore granted an Order of Possession in favour of Bela Vista Property Development Company Limited to all the portions of the land encroached upon by the Itedo community and all the people who derived their titles from them. The Court in its judgment further declared that the Irrevocable Power of Attorney given to Bela Vista Property Development Company Limited by the Elegushi family is valid and that the company is the owner of the land covered by the Irrevocable Power of Attorney registered as No. 99, Page 99, Volume 1926 granted to it by the Elegushi family.
Furthermore, the Court granted an Order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the Itedo community from committing any further acts of trespass on the land. The sum of N250, 000.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) was subsequently awarded to Bela Vista Property Development Company Limited as damages for the trespass by the claimants.
The Land in dispute is edged pink in Plan No. BAASS.096/LAG/97 dated January 6, 1998 which formed part of the land of the Elegushi Family under Yoruba native law and custom. The said land was later sold to Bela Vista Property Development Company Limited in 1991 by the Elegushi Family and an Irrevocable Power of Attorney registered as No. 99, Page 99, Volume 1926 was executed by the family in favour of Bela Vista Property Development Company Limited.
The claimants in the Suit over the parcel of land which formed the subject matter of Suit No: LD/2275/1996 before Justice Abdullahi of the Lagos High Court are Most Rev. Apostle Seblon Harrison Ikuegbowo, Emmanuel Ogunsade, Prince Jibowu Megba, Topia Oroale and Sanni Jetro Harrison for themselves and on behalf of all members of Itedo community. They had prayed the Court for a declaration that the Claimants in the Suit are entitled to a Customary/Statutory Right of Occupancy for Itedo Land and Order compelling the Lagos State Government to issue a Certificate of Occupancy to them.
This parcel of land forms part of the 113.884 hectares of land covered by an Irrevocable Power of Attorney registered as No. 99, Page. 99, Volume 1926 of the Lagos State Lands Registry, Alausa, which was donated to Bela Vista Property Development Company Limited by Elegushi Property Investment Company Limited on December 20, 1991.
But Itedo community instituted this action at the High Court of Lagos State to claim title and ownership to a large parcel of land measuring approximately 67 hectares situate at Ikate Elegushi, 3rd roundabout Lekki-Epe in the Eti – Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State and for orders seeking to set aside the Certificate of Occupancy of Elegushi Property Investment Company Limited dated September 19, 1990 and registered as No. 60 at page 60 in Volume 1990AK measuring approximately 506 hectares.
Bela Vista as the 3rd Defendant/Counter-Claimant in the Suit, decided to file a Counter-Claim against Itedo community and sought Orders to restrain them from trespassing on its land. Bela Vista also prayed the Court to declare that its root of title derived from the Elegushi Property Investment Company Limited is valid and that by virtue of the sale of the land to it, it is entitled to exercise all the rights of ownership, total control, management, enjoyment, possession, occupation and superintendence of the land marked as A, B, C, D. measuring in aggregate 113.884 hectares more particularly delineated and marked Red in the Survey Plan No. LS/D/LA/340 dated 15 of August, 1991 drawn by Surveyor Biodun Akinyemi.
However, Mr. Abumere Osara, a lawyer at Femi Okunnu & Co., a law firm, who handled the case has noted that “It has come to our knowledge that members of Itedo community despite this judgment and the consequent orders of the Court, are still offering this same land to unsuspecting members of the public. Members of the public are hereby enjoined not to have any further dealings with Itedo community or any of its representatives with respect to the above mentioned parcel of land, as anyone who does so, would be doing it at his or her own risk.
By Nick Nwaeze