Illegal demolition: Court dismisses Lagos govt’s motion challenging jurisdiction
A Lagos State High Court, yesterday, dismissed the preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction in hearing the suit by Mr. Adekoya Akinwunmi and his wife, Ayoola, over the alleged demolition of their property, situated at No 9 Arowolo Adeyemo Avenue, Millennium Citi Centre Estate, Oke-Alo, Gbagada, in Lagos State.
The claimants, Mr. Akinwunmi and his wife, Ayoola, in the suit through their lawyer, Mr. G. Odimayo, accused the Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako; the Permanent Secretary, Abiola Kosegbe; the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, and the Attorney General, and Commissioner for Justice, of illegal demolition of their four terrace building.
However, the defendants in their preliminary objection, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit because the claimants failed to exhaust the statutory administrative remedies contained in the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law of Lagos State, 2019 before the commencement of the suit.
Ruling on the preliminary objection, Justice Yetunde Pinheiro held that the claimants have properly invoked the jurisdiction of the court, adding that the court has unfettered jurisdiction to entertain any aggrieved citizen.
The Judge stated that from the facts presented before the court, the factual situations were not in doubt.
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The court noted that the claimants were told that the only person that could stop the demolition was a former Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf.
When the claimants approached the former Commissioner for a truce, she allegedly made an adverse claim of ownership of the land and threatened that “whatever the Claimants built on the land would be demolished.
Justice Pinheiro said: “I can tell you as an insider of Lagos State that even if you build a story house, it will be demolished and flattened.
“I have earlier found that several petitions had been written to the defendant for which no response was received. Not even the pre-action memorandum of claim was responded to, I have also found that by the operation of Section 81 (a), (c) and (f) any person inclusive of the defendants (upon receipt of the correspondence of the claimants) could have initiated the appeals committee process.”