Several house owners and residents of Ekerin layout, New Garage/Akala expressway, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, burst into celebration yesterday as an Oyo High Court ordered immediate restoration of over 100 houses, churches, schools and business centres forcefully taken from them and locked by people claiming ownership of the land.
The home owners and their tenants had fled the area for fear of being attacked by gun-wielding intruders, who are believed to be land grabbers.
The latter took over the property, claiming an October 31, 2018 court order authorized them to take possession of the land as rightful owners.
Mostly affected by the takeover, were pupils of a private school, George and Duke, BJ foods, ADETS Oil filling station, Jaypee Lounge, Rhema Church, Fit Price Restaurant, Mahendra Drilling, DSTV office, JFK Inn and over 100 residential buildings.
The residents, whose houses were sealed by the defendants based on the execution of the court judgement, filed applications to set aside the execution.
The victims stormed the court in the early hours of yesterday, to witness the ruling on the case.
In his ruling, Justice O. M. Olagunju ordered that all the affected buildings be unsealed immediately to allow fleeing residents regain their property.
He declared, that, there was no counter claim in the action filed by the plaintiffs against the defendants, stressing that the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case did not, therefore, confer any right on the defendants.
A counsel to one of the residents, Toyese Owoade of Emmanuel Afe Babalola chambers, explained that, ”a court of Justice is expected to dispense justice to all citizens regardless of his or her status in the society and that’s why it is generally said that where there is a wrong, there is a remedy. The judgement of the court as rightly noted by the court did not confer any right on the defendants who levied execution.”
Owoade added that, “It is trite law, that, in such circumstance, where there is no positive order of court granting possession, a party has no right to apply for warrant for possession.”
Defendants’ counsel, Bolarinwa Lawal, was not available for comment.