Following the allegations by Monday Ubani, a former vice-president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) who raised alarm over the illegal invasion and forceful occupation of landed property in Ikeja area of Lagos by land grabbers, allegedly working with officials of Lagos State Government, Engr Abiodun Ariori, has debunked the report.
Recall that there was pandemonium in Monkey Village, around Opebi, Lagos on Thursday, 31 December, 2020 as a team allegedly from the Lagos State Taskforce moved into the community and demolished residents’ houses.
However, Ubani in a publication alleged the said attack was carried out by Engr Ariori through the support of the Ministry of Transport and Environment.
Reacting, Engr Ariori told newsmen during a press briefing on Sunday, 3 January 2021, reasons for the demolition.
His words, “We’ve been in possession of the land (Opebi) for more than 20 years. About six months ago, we’re trying to erect some structures on the land when we found out that some mechanics have taken over the place and we reported them to Zone II of which they’re all arrested.
“That’s when we met lawyer Ubani, who came to facilitate their bail and ordered them back to the land that has Supreme court verdict backing us. Since we’ve been trying to work on that land, he (lawyer Ubani) have been using police to frustrate our efforts.
“So, our lawyer wrote a petition to the Attorney General of the State to assist on the issue of which they obliged. Based on that, the Lagos State Government carried out a further investigation about the matter. Before then, the people in the area wrote government to come to eject the miscreants out of the land as a result of their criminalities. The State Government carried out the execution on the 31st of December, last year.”
“I was surprised when lawyer Ubani started attacking me while calling me several names on social media. Even if I don’t know what to do, is he saying also that the government doesn’t know what to do? Is he the only one who can make noise? Does this justify that we’re not the real owners of the land? He claimed to have an injunction on the land of which I am not aware of. Can any injunction supersede Supreme court judgement? I’m only here to state the obvious that, I am not a land grabber. We have all our necessary documents to back up this statement of fact,” he added.
Corroborating the above view, the counsel to the defendant, Barr Francis Monye faulted Ubani’s claims as ‘lacking merit’ and ‘unethical’.
“We have legal documents backing us on that portion of land. My client was engaged by a judgement creditor (the Meadows). The Meadow family are the owner of the land. They’re not natives, they bought that land. They bought approximately 13 acres.
“So, you would see from the documents that we’ve, they’ve been deprived access over that land, dealing with people who are trespassers. However, the Meadows got judgement in their favour while the trespassers went to appeal the judgement but lost. They still went further to the Apex court of which they upheld records from the lower courts and declared the Meadows as the owner of the land. So, the issue of ownership of the land has been long closed.
“So, what my client approached the state to do based on the instructions he got from the Meadow family was to see how they can carry out the precedents laid by the Meadow family. My client is neither a land grabber nor an illegal person. He went through court processes and we’ve various documents testifying to it that he spent money on legal processes and got judgement.
“If there is anybody to attack, you should not attack him (Engr Ariori) because the first thing is that there is a rule on bureaucracy and there are laws to follow to enact on this. Instead of chasing a substance, you’re leaving it to face shadow. I don’t know what Ubani is trying to get at because the substance is that, if you’ve anything to challenge an execution, which you see was conspicuously displayed, that means your cause of actions should naturally be against the authority that levied the execution and should give details why you feel the execution should be set aside. If you have any issue bordering on the Attorney General’s office, then you join in as a party,” he said.
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