By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The Coalition for Human Rights and Social Justice in Nigeria has petition the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, over plots to forcefully take over land of a 88-year old woman, Madam Bisi Gbolade.
The petition said the property, located on 21/22 Oroleye Crescent, Opebi in Ikeja Lagos, Nigeria is being trampled upon by some unscrupulous and faceless persons who feel that they are above the law.
The Coalition disclosed this during a press conference in Abuja on Thursday.
Comrade Augustine Richard Adie who spoke on behalf of the Coalition, said the land
He said the land in question was acquired in December 1977 and documentation was completed in March 1978.
The Coalition said that Madam Bisi’s rights have been trampled upon owing to the oppression and the series of death threats upon her life which remains her fundamental right.
“She is now very old and has no one to fight her case, living like a refugee in Lagos
He said “A copy of the land survey done in 1975 was also given to her along with a receipt of purchase.
“First trespass into the land by some members of the Kuyesi Awushe family happened sometime in 1991. She went to court in Lagos and won the case in 1992, after which she registered the conveyance with the Registrar of Deeds at the Land Registry in Lagos, signed on 12th March 1992. After securing the land, she rented it out to some mechanics to use as workshop.
“In 2004 some members of the Kuyesi Awushe family approached Madam Bisi Gbolade asking her to give them the land and accept another land somewhere in Ikeja, they also got the then Baale of Onigbongbo to approach her with the same proposal, indicating that they had mistakenly resold the land to someone and wish to compensate her, she refused.
Sometime in August of same 2004 some persons came with police men to arrest the mechanics occupying the land. Madam Bisi wrote to the Area Commander, Area ‘F’ Police Command, Ikeja and the men were released after 3 days in detention.
“Few days after the release of the mechanics, some thugs led by one Mrs Mayomi Afekhuai and some other persons claiming to have bought the land came with guns and machetes and started shooting and chasing out the mechanics and throwing out their belongings. Madam Bisi wrote to the police again to report the incident (there’s copy of this letter as well copies of all relevant documents in this case), but somehow this brazen trespass still continued. “Madam Bisi’s lawyers instituted a case in court in early 2005. She also put a caveat in The Punch and The Guardian newspapers of 12th January 2005. In May 2005 her lawyers wrote again to the trespassers to keep off the property and posted same notice on the property. In the process of the case, the sitting judge, Hon. Justice Candide-Johnson visited the disputed land to hold a sitting, and then ordered that the property be sealed until the case was concluded.
“Sometime in same 2005 Madam Bisi observed that the intruders had gone to the land, broke the seal put there by the judge and started building a foundation. She communicated to her lawyers who wrote again to the intruders, but they still continued, in spite of the dictates of a competent court!
“The case went on and was prolonged due to adjournments. Sometime in 2010, on the 20th of January, litigation officer to Madam Bisi’s lawyers went to the court registry for progress report and discovered something very shocking, the registrars could not find the case file, it had disappeared from the court registry with no trace. Her legal team spent months trying to figure out what had happened, until 6th October 2010 when her lawyer wrote to the High Court of Lagos to report the situation of the case (a copy of that letter to the Honourable Justice Candide-Johnson is available).
“An infuriated Justice Candide-Johnson gave a marching order for the case file to be traced and produced, mysteriously the file then resurfaced. The case was then continued and a Judgement was given in favour of madam Bisi by Hon. Justice A.O Taiwo (Mrs) on 10th November 2014.
“The defendants went to appeal. The Appeal Court upheld Madam Bisi’s judgement. We have evidences of 2 separate appeals, all of the appeal judgements upheld the first.While all of these was going on, the intruders ignored the courts and Madam Bisi’s pleas and went ahead to build on one side of the land and have been enjoying rent on it. On the second part of the land they put a gate to the fence built by Madam Bisi with a padlock and pasted a warning for everyone to keep off. More shocking in this case is that the judgement in the first case in 1991/92 has disappeared from the court registry as well as from the chambers of Madam Bisi’s then lawyer!”
“On account of Madam Bisi’s age, we wish to call on all those concerned, The Chief Justice of Nigeria, The Attorney General and the international community to push for an accelerated hearing of the matter at the Supreme Court, where a motion has been filed in the nefarious hope that she would not be alive to see same concluded.
“The matter as it is, is no longer a personal issue as it bothers around the adherence to the rule of law and in the court of public opinion and a call to sanitize the judiciary in Nigeria.”