Residents and landlords in the Surulere area of Lagos State have expressed fear over the takeover of their property as the traditional ruler of Onikate of Ikate, Oba Lateef Adams, demanded settlement for the land in the area.
A resident, Mr Emmanuel Asuquo, told Sunday PUNCH that people in the area were alarmed last week when some young men marked the walls of many houses for takeover, citing a court order,
Asuquo said, “We discovered last Wednesday that some young men came to mark the walls of many houses on Alhaji Masha Road down to Adelabu, Bola Shadipe, Okanlawon Ajayi, and Oyelowo Close, among others, in Surulere. The houses were marked for possession and takeover.
“This made a lot of landlords and land owners to be jittery. The men said they were following a court ruling and the monarch, Oba Lateef Adams, had also invited landlords to come to him for negotiations over the disputed land.
“From what they have stated, there has been an unresolved court case between some people and the court has now granted an order for them to take possession of the land.”
Another resident, Mr Maduka Obi, noted that the court ruling dated back to the 1970s and the landowners had not been known to make any attempt to assert their ownership of the land until now.
“It took us by surprise but I engaged these men who came to mark the buildings and they pointed me to a notice that we should call the numbers on it and follow their directives.
“So, we swung into action and some lawyers in our community went to court and applied for the particular judgement that was being referred to. It was given in 1975 and there was no appeal, so the judgement still stands.
“The subject matter was about 50 feet by 100 feet of land, which was bought in 1968 and there was a dispute over it by the Ikate family. In my opinion, this judgement is statute-barred due to the long number of years involved,” he added.
A copy of the court judgement obtained by our correspondent showed it was delivered by Justice Olusan Bada of the Lagos State High Court in suit No 18/118/68 on November 10, 1975.
The document identified one of the plaintiffs as Kasali Idewu and one of the defendants as Ayisatu Yaya.
The judgement was affirmed by a ruling delivered by Justice M.A. Lawal of the Ikeja Judicial Division of the High Court of Lagos State on December 9, 2022.
Reacting, the monarch told Sunday PUNCH that there was no intention to take over the land, adding that what he sought was settlements.
He said, “What we want is for homeowners and landlords on the land to bring their papers and sit down with the government and discuss it out; there is no intention for me to possess the land. This is not just something that came from us, it came from the court and it can’t be recalled.
“We simply want settlement not to take over anybody’s land or demolish houses as it has been widely speculated. Once there is cooperation, there won’t be any problem; it is an issue that is open for discussion.”