Read! Defunct NITEL Land: Court Grants & Awards Bail to Adeniran Alao & Three Others; An Ikeja, Lagos State High Court has conceded Prince Adeniran Owen Alao and three others bail over supposed taking of 101 sections of land situated at P&T, Ipaja Akinyele region of Lagos State. Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo granted the bail.
Taiwo in her decision dated October 8, 2020, held that the respondents are assumed honest until the opposite is demonstrated and in this manner allowed them bail in the amount of N20 million with two guarantees in like entirety.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission had in charge number ID/12978C/2020 accused the defendants: Prince Adeniran Owen Alao, Owereser Nigeria limited, Kolusade Oluwafemi, Quadro Lookman, and Atinuse Albert of conspiracy to commit felony and stealing of land contrary to section 409 and 410 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
The EFCC had alleged that the defendants sometimes in 2014 conspired among themselves to steal 101 acres of land at P&T, Ipaja Akinyele, Lagos State, property of the Federal Government.
Arguing their bail applications, lawyer to the defendant, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), submitted that the grant of bail was at the discretion of the court and that discretion should be exercised judicially and judiciously.
Ayorinde presented that bail is an established right and the assumption of honesty lies for the respondents.
He said being capable people, they won't bounce bail however submit themselves to the courts until the issue was at last discarded.
He along these lines asked the court to utilize its circumspection for the litigants and award them bail in like manner.
Restricting the application, EFCC's insight, Ayanfeoluwa Ogunsina, presented that the offenses for which the respondents were charged identify with monetary damage, thus their bail applications ought to be cannot.
In her ruling, Justice Taiwo held that a court must take into consideration the nature of the charge, the evidence by which it is supported, the sentence which may be passed in the event of a conviction, the probability that the applicant will appear to take his trial and also whether the release of the defendants on bail will interfere with trial of the case.
The Judge held:
“In a case of an offense ordinarily bailable, it is the duty of the prosecution to show why the applicant should not be admitted to bail.
“It is not expected to oppose bail for the sake of opposing.
“There should be factual grounds for opposing bail and these facts have to be put before the court.
“Also, the applicant has a corresponding duty to show that he is entitled to bail.
“Although the prosecution has urged the court to consider the seriousness of the offense, the applicants are alleged to have committed and has contended that if the applicants are admitted to bail they would interfere with the trial, from the counter affidavit the prosecution has failed to give material facts to show that the applicants will indeed interfere with the trial if admitted to bail.”
Justice Taiwo held that the defendants are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, adding that the offenses for which they were charged are bailable and thereby should be granted bail.
It would be recalled that Alao and five others had in suit number ID/5764/14 filed before Justice Ganiyu Safari of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja Division sued the Minister of Land and Minister for Communication over the disputed land.
Other claimants in the suit are Chief Abibu Ajibawo, Chief Sikiru Odede, Ayinla Falola, Babatunde Abiola, Chief Ajike Ogunbiyi for themselves and on behalf of members of Oguntoyinbo, Abiola, Falola, and Ilo families.
They prayed the court for a declaration that the purpose for which the 101 acres of land located at P&T, Ipaja Akinyele, Lagos was acquired by the Federal Government has failed.
They claimed that the land was compulsorily acquired from their families vide Government Notice 1881 published in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No-60 Vol 61 dated December 12, 1974 and that no acquisition notice was served personally on the claimant’s families or their customary tenants.
Besides, the claimants told the court that no compensation was paid to their families by the Federal Government, while the specific purpose of the acquisition of the land, which is to be used as an International Radio Monitoring Station, was not done.
The claimants further informed the court that the Federal Government rather than use the acquired land for the original purpose handed it to the Ministry of Land and later to the Ministry of Communication, which then occupied the land through the defunct Nigerian Telecommunications Limited.
They added that the small portion of the land built on by the defunct NITEL was not in any way connected to the original purpose of the acquisition and that the same NITEL has been sold to private investors.
They added that the land in dispute is being sold off in bits and pieces to private individuals by officials of the defunct NITEL and some unknown persons, contrary to the specific purpose for which the land was acquired by the Federal Government.
Justice Safari in his judgment delivered on May 19, 2015, held that the absolute purpose for which the parcel of land was acquired to wit: International Radio Monitoring Station, has totally failed.
Consequently, the court ordered that the claimants should take possession of all the land to situate at Ipaja Lagos more particularly delineated on Survey Plan No. PB 401 A&B prepared by B.P. Okuboye.
However, the court refused to grant the request to demolish all structures erected on the land pending when the claimants shall file detailed particular or inventory of such structures before the court.
Following the judgment, some members of the families, namely Chief Abibu Ajibawo, Ayinla Falola, and Babatunde Abiola (applicants) urged the court to restrain Prince Owen Adeniran Alao, Chief Ajike Ogunbiyi, and Chief Sikiru Odede (respondents) from further dealing on the disputed land.
They also prayed the court to order the respondents to account for all monies collected from the sale of the Oguntoyinbo family land and to set aside all sale, assignments, lease, and tenancy made by them on the disputed land.
The applicants informed the court that since the delivery of the judgment on May 19, 2015, thugs were appointed to prevent them from entering the land.
But opposing the application, the respondents in their Notice of Preliminary Objection argued that once a court delivers its judgment in respect of a matter, it has become functus officio (has no power to make changes) and thereby precluded from reviewing or varying such judgment.
In his ruling, Justice Safari noted that both the applicants and the respondents were from the same family, and judgment was given in their favor.
“It is to be noted that all the parties to these applications argued together were the victorious parties and claimant/judgement creditors in that judgement of the court delivered on May 19, 2015.
“The claimants after obtaining judgement have now turned against one another.”
Justice Safari held that having given judgment in the suit and the judgment having been executed, the court lacks the power to make further orders in the suit as the two parties before the court are judgment creditors in the main suit Number ID/5764/14 and are entitled to the benefits of the said judgment.
Consequently, Justice Safari dismissed the application; 'Defunct NITEL Land: Court Grants & Awards Bail to Adeniran Alao & Three Others'
Meanwhile, the Minister for Communication has appealed against the judgment and the matter adjourned till December 1, 2020 for hearing.
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