Reprieve came the way of the building owners and residents of the Mesiogo Estate in Akobo area of Ibadan, Oyo state on Monday as a state High Court judge, Justice O. O. Olatunji, gave a fresh order stopping the Nigerian Army from further harassment, intimidation or taking any action that could affect lives and property of the people living in the disputed land until the determination of a case brought before her by the landlords in the community.
Counsel for the claimants, Kunle Abimbola in his submission informed the court that “in spite of the fact that the matter is before the court, the defendants on 12th November, 2018 still went ahead to serve the claimants with letters, that if they do not pay various sums of money assessed by the army to repurchase the land into the coffers of the defendants’ bank account, they will forcefully evict them from the land”.
He further submitted that, “the defendants’ counsel has written a letter for adjournment of the case because he is otherwise engaged at the court of appeal, Ibadan.”
The judge thereafter made an order directing the parties in the suit to maintain status quo, “so that the res (the subject matter of the suit) which affects over 60 houses belonging to the claimants will not be destroyed by the defendants key resorting to self help.”
The judge said, “Having listened to the learned counsel for the claimants and having taken consideration of the subject matter of the suit, I am of the view that the order sought for has merit.
“Order is hereby granted. Parties to the suit should maintain status quo pending hearing and determination of the suit in order to protect the res,” she submitted.
The case was adjourned till December 13, 2018 for hearing of pending applications.
Following residents’ outcry on Sunday that Nigerian Army was planning to invade its community and forcefully eject residents that the land in question belonged to it, a lieutenant, S. O. Ilufoye whose contact appeared on the letter for enquiries on Army’s plan to forcefully eject ‘erring landlords’ told our correspondent that the letter was directed to the communities that encroached on the Army’s land.
Ilufoye had said, “For Mesiogo, we served them quit notice and the case is in court. It is not all of them that are with the lawyers who initiated the legal tussle. Some of them have been cooperating and paying to the army the prescribed amount. Army is a respecter of the rule. It is when the court determines the case that we will know what next to do.”