Nigeria

Federal court judge accuses Lagos attorney general of distortion of facts

They were arraigned before Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square.

Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos on Wednesday said that there were distortions of facts in a petition written against him by the Attorney-General of Lagos State, stressing that the petitioner wrote without looking at the record of the court.

The judge stated this at the resumed hearing of a suit filed by Admiralty Fleet Limited (BICS Garden), and Admiral Festus Porbeni (retired), against the Attorney General, Lagos State; National Inland Waterways Authority; and the Chairman, Lagos State Special Task Force.

When the matter came up for hearing, Justice Osiagor informed parties that following the petition written by the Attorney-General, Lagos State he would no longer like to preside over the matter.

“I will not want to continue with this matter. I will tell the Admin Judge that I would like to recuse myself. The Attorney General wrote his petition without looking at the record of the court. Either he was misled by his counsel in his ministry or they want to be mischievous. The Attorney General has distorted the facts and I will not want to continue with the matter. Whenever the CJ writes, I will respond appropriately.”

Justice Osiagor stated that if the petitioner had taken time to look at the record of the court, he would have seen that the court refused an ex parte application brought by the plaintiffs on the 12th October 2021 and ordered that the defendants should all be put on notice.

Despite being on notice, men of the 3rd defendants invaded the premises on the 14th October 2021 causing more destruction to structures on the premises/property than had been filed in the original suit.

Addressing, lawyer to the 1st and 3rd defendants, Justice Osiagor wondered why he did not serve his colleagues with copies of the petition.

“You wrote a petition and you did not serve any of the parties in the suit. This is not the way it should be done in a noble profession. This is not noble, it is dirty, it is not decent nor transparent. We are not fighting ourselves, but we should be guided by principles and integrity and not primordia sentiment. I have principles guiding me aside from being a judge.”

The judge however reiterated that the restraining order he made on October 18th 2021 against the first and third defendants still subsists and has not been set aside.

The court had on October 18th, 2021, restrained the Attorney-General of Lagos State, and the Lagos State Special Task Force Unit (1st and 3rd defendants) from allocating any portion of a property located at B20, Wole Olateju Crescent, off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1 in Eti-Osa Local government Area and/ or entering into the said premises/ property pending the hearing of the substantive suit.

However, Lagos State Government appealed against the order and followed it up by re-deploying the Lagos State Task Force police officers to the site in breach of the order of injunction.

The first and third defendants allegedly brought a bulldozer onto the site at about 4 am on October 20th, 2021, and demolished further structures on the site with the Lagos State Task Force policemen providing protection for those flouting the injunction.

Amazed by the conduct of the first and third defendants, the claimants commenced contempt proceedings against the Attorney General of Lagos State and sought for the Attorney General and The Chairman, Lagos State Government Special Task Force to be committed.

However, Adebayo Haroun, counsel to 1st & 3rd defendants, informed the court that the Attorney General had written a petition to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court complaining that they had no confidence in the Judge because the Judge had issued a preservative order against them, based on merits of law.

Counsels to the claimants, Olatunji Oyeyipo SAN; Abiodun Olatunji SAN and Counsel to the 2nd defendants, NIWA, Adejare Kembi ESQ, told the court that they were surprised at the turn of events and complained that the Attorney General did not deem it fit to effect service of the said petition on them.

The plaintiffs had in their statement of claim stated that on December 4, 2008, the second applicant applied to the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) for permits to construct a jetty and boat club at Plot 6 BLK A15 off Admiralty Way, Lekki Lagos, which was approved.

They stated that on September 30, 2021, men and officers of the Lagos State Task Force without any prior notice or any valid court order forcefully entered the disputed premises and began marking its equipment, machinery, structures, and boats for removal within 48 hours.

They urged the court to declare the forceful entry and invasion of the 1st applicant’s premises amount to trespass and a breach of the applicant’s fundamental right to own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria guaranteed by Section 43 of the Constitution.

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