Judiciary News

Land Tussle: Ikumoworo Family Approaches Supreme Court Over Alleged Miscarriage Of Justice

Tussle between the Ikumoworo family and Olofin family over Isheri-Oke disputed land has been taken to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. The disputed land is situated at Old Olowora Road, Isheri-oke, Lagos State.

The Attorney for the IKumoworo family, Princess Josephine Momoh has filed an appeal at the apex court over the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division which on March 16, 2022 upturned the judgement delivered by Justice Yetunde Idowu in favour of Princess Josephine Momoh.

The Ikumoworo Family comprises of the Onikosi, Onikoro and Oshorun Family. Josephine Momoh who is the claimant, is an agent of the ikumoworo family and she’s suing as an attorney of the family.

Appellant being dissatisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal, has duly filed their NOTICE OF APPEAL to the Supreme Court.

Momoh’s grounds of appeal stated that, “the court erred in law when they held that the testimony of the appellant on the traditional history of the Ikumoworo family was very porous and inconclusive because neither PW2 nor PW4 testified on the details of intervening owners through whom they claimed the land. And thereby came to a perverse decision occasioning serious miscarriage of justice to the appellant.

“The pleadings and evidence of PW2 and PW4 agree on the fact that their progenitor was Ikumoworo and that he deforested a large portion of land including the land in dispute. The evidence of subsequent or intervening owners of part of the land in dispute cannot override or be superior to the evidence given of the first settler and founder of the large parcel of land including the land in dispute.

The Appellant in the trial court gave evidence of the children of Ikumoworo which the land in dispute devolved on jointly by way of inheritance under Yoruba Native Law and custom.

“Therefore the Justices of the Court below did not properly evaluate the evidence of traditional history of the family as the owner of the land in dispute. The Court of Appeal erred in law when on page 30 of their judgment relied on the judgments tendered as Exhibit N, 0, 01 & Y to found in favor of the respondents as the owner of the land in dispute and thereby came to a perverse decision occasioning serious miscarriage of justice to the appellant.”

Justice Idowu of Lagos High Court, had on July 16, 2009 delivered a judgment in the suit no: ID/1664/1999 filed by Princess Josephine Momoh against Oba Nurudeen Adekanbi, the Olofin of Isheri for himself and on behalf of Olofin family restrained them from trespassing on the disputed land.

Aside the traditional ruler, others in the suit are: Mr. Lasisis Kudoro, Mr. Bashiru Kudoro for themselves and on behalf of the other members of Kudoro’s family. As well as Akin Kudoro Adisa Adejonwo, Mr. Yinka Ajenifuja and Unknown trespassers/as first to fifth respondents respectively.

Momoh, the claimant at the lower court had prayed the court for a declaration that the claimant as Attorney for the Kumoworo family is entitled to the statutory Right of Occupancy over all that piece or parcel of land situate, lying and being at Isheri, Lagos State of Nigeria which land was released to the original owners by the Lagos State Government and which land is more particularly described and edged ‘RED’ on the attached survey plan No. TJ/LA/114/76 dated 26th December, 1976 and made by Surveyor J. Theophilus John, licensed Surveyor and composite plan No. OYE/452/052/056/03 made by Surveyor B. Olusanya licensed Surveyor.

The high court judge had held that the evidence of the claimant to be more probable, “I find the evidence of the claimant and witnesses to be cogent and highly probable as opposed to the confused and contradictory evidence of defendants and witnesses.

“I am inclined to exercise my discretion in favour of the claimant. The declaration sought is accordingly granted. I am unable to grant the prayer of the defendants/counter-claimants in the sought declaration.

“The equitable interest and possession of the claimant within the purview of the provisions of Section 34(5) and (6) of Land Act 1976 and she would be entitled to the statutory right of occupancy respect of the disputed land.

“I hold that the claimant was in possession of the land before the defendants trespassed thereon.

Trespass is actionable per so without proof of damages. On the issue of general and special damages and the claimant has claimed N990,000.00.”

Meanwhile, the respondents had prayed the court for a declaration that the 1st-5th defendants for themselves and on behalf of the Olofin Chieftaincy Family are the persons entitled to the statutory Right of Occupancy in respect of the land in dispute at Isheri-Oke and Olowora, vide Survey Plan No, ADAKS 01/LA/2006 dated 8th February, 2006, drawn by Adetunji Adeleke, Registered Surveyor.

They therefore challenged the judgement at the Court of Appeal in a suit marked CA/L/362/2010, argued that the lower court ought to have considered and evaluated all the evidence tendered, including the documentary evidence of previous judgments tendered, and placed them on an imaginary scale of justice to determine where the scale tilts.

However, three-man panel of justices of Court Appeal: Jimi Olukayode Bada, Onyekhachi Aja Otisi and Abubarkar Sadiq Umar in their unanimous decision  upturned the decision of the High Court.

However the case is now pending at the Supreme Court of Nigeria and All parties has been duly served with the Notice of Appeal.

This is why it came as an absolute shock when the Olofin family on the 12th of April 2023, brought armed police men to enforce the judgment of the Appeal Court, having first hand knowledge that the matter is now before the Supreme Court.

It is Pertinent to note that the Olofin Family lost in the High Court and they excised their Constitutional Right to Appeal.

The Ikumoworo family stood on the principle of fair hearing and stayed action till the Appeal was determined. The Ikumoworo family has also excised their right to appeal to the Supreme Court and urged the Olofin Family to wait for the Judgment of the Supreme Court before any action is taken.

The Onikoro Family headed by High Chief Olusegun Bakare, Onikosi family headed by HRM Oba Alamu Onikosi and Oshorun family under the leadership of Prince Jamiu Yekini Olatunji has disassociated itself from the uprising that happened on the 12th day of April 2023 in isheri-oke, Lagos.

Counsel to the families, Lawal Pedro (SAN) and Gbolahan Quadri commended the Police in the state for  handling the situation with utmost professionalism.

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