> By Adelanwa Bamgboye The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), has said ‘unknown bailliffs’ executed the court order which sacked landlords and residents of Magodo Phase 2 Estate in the state. Onigbanjo, in a statement on Thursday, described the controversial invasion as unwarranted and illegal, adding that those found culpable would be prosecuted. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous judgement in 2012 in the case of the Military Governor of Lagos State and four others vs. Adebayo Adeyiga and six others in appeal No SC/112/2002, affirmed the September 25, 2001 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division and High Court’s decision delivered on December 31, 1993, in suit No: ID/795/88 in the case. The apex court justices on the panel, were Walter Onnogen (rtd), John Afolabi Fabiyi (rtd) Bode Rhodes Vivour (rtd), Mary Ukaego Odili, and Olufunlola Oyelola Adekeye (rtd). Justice Adekeye, who delivered the lead judgment, held that “I hereby enter judgment for the plaintiffs against the defendants as follows: A declaration that members of the Shangisha Landlords Association whose lands and or buildings at Shangisha village were demolished by the Lagos State Government and/or its servants or agents during the period of June 1984 to May 1985 are entitled to the first choice preferential treatment by the Lagos State Government before any other person(s) in the allocation or re-allocation of plots in Shangisha village. “And I make the order against the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants (particularly the Lagos State Government and Land Use and Allocation Committee) as agreed in the meeting held on October 16, 1984, with the Ministry of Lands and Housing and Development Matters, Lagos State. “An order of mandatory injunction is hereby made that the said defendants shall forthwith allocate 549 plots to the plaintiffs in the said Shangisha village scheme in the Shangisha village aforesaid.” Onigbanjo said it was obvious that the judgment only recognised the judgment creditors as being entitled to first choice preferential treatment in the allocation and or re-allocation of plots in Shangisha village, adding that the judgment only related to the allocation of 549 plots of land and not the possession of any land. The Lagos State AG said the state government engaged the judgment creditors between 2012 and 2015 and made a proposal to re-allocate land to them at Magodo Residential Scheme within Badagry area, adding that the move was rejected by Chief Adebayo Adeyiga. He, however, noted that the majority of the judgment creditors led by Yemi Ogunshola, Jelili Yaya and Adeleke Adefala, accepted the offer. “Due to division within the judgment creditors, another round of settlement was initiated in 2016 which culminated in the proposal to re-allocate the judgment creditors to Ibeju Lekki Coastal Scheme situated at Ibeju/Lekki, which was also rejected by Chief Adebayo Adeyiga. “Subsequent to the rejection, the state government has been in dialogue with the majority of the judgment creditors from 2019 with a view to reaching a concession towards implementing the judgment,” Onigbanjo added. Onigbanjo explained that a pending application for interlocutory injunction dated December 1, 2020, before the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/L/1005A/2018 sought an order restraining Adeyiga and others, including their agents, servants privies or howsoever called, particularly the police, from entering into, giving direction, taking possession or in any manner disturbing the quiet enjoyment of property owners in Magodo Residential Area Scheme. He added: “The Lagos State government has equally observed that the execution was carried out by unknown bailiffs as the sheriff of the High Court of Lagos where the judgment emanated was not responsible for the purported execution carried out on December 21, 2021 at Magodo.” He said, “investigation into the unwarranted incident is being carried out with a view to prosecuting any person found culpable. The Lagos State government has high regard for the rule of law and will protect the interests of all parties.” He stated that the Supreme Court judgment was not affixed to any land anywhere and that it only declared that the judgment creditors were entitled to allocation of land from the state government. He noted that Adeyiga misled the police in attempting execution of the judgment notwithstanding the pending appeal against the issuance of a warrant of possession by the then Chief Judge of Lagos State on March 16, 2017. In a swift reaction, senior lawyers said that two wrongs do not make a right. According to them, it is the Lagos State government, in this instance, that created the monster and demanded explanation why the judgment creditor should be delayed for over 30 years. They said that was official lawlessness. The State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, however, said in the pursuit of an amicable resolution of the Magodo land dispute, “I chaired a meeting with the judgment creditors (Shangisha Landlords’ Association), their lawyers, Commissioner of Police Lagos State Command, policemen from the FCT Command and Police Headquarters, the executive and trustees of the Magodo Residents’ Association and senior government officials on the enforcement of the judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on February 10, 2012. “All the parties agreed to an amicable resolution of the matter and I thanked everyone for attending and restated our resolve to ensure that peace returns to Magodo and that there is justice for all.” Lagos-based lawyer Barrister Alabi Joseph said “There are myriad of similar cases flowing from the federal, states and LGAs. According to him, “a court of competent jurisdiction delivers judgement against government, enforcement lingers infinitum thereby making nonsense of the system. “This move by the governor ought to have been the starting point knowing full well that this is a judgement of the most superior court of record of the land. “The various judicial and law enforcement officers who by acts of omission or commission frustrated the execution of this judgement or have delayed its execution up till this moment are responsible for the near anarchy and lawlessness the public has been fed with. “It includes in my humble view the Lagos State Commissioner of Police who unwittingly exposed himself/ high office to avoidable public ridicule a few days ago and the clownish CSP from Abuja,” the lawyer said. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) said the 1999 Constitution tells a lie against the people of Nigeria when it claims that we are running a federation but strips the governor of a state of powers over security. He added that only restructuring can save this nation. In his reaction, Dr. Umar Gwandu, special assistant to the AGF on media said it is important to state that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation belongs to the executive arm of government and the Supreme Court belongs to the judiciary. “The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice takes exception to the Southwest governors’ unjustifiable insinuation of impunity against the office over execution of a judgment of the Supreme Court. “The role of the executive is, in this respect, simply to aide the maintenance of law and order in due compliance with rule of law arising from giving effect to the judgment of the apex court of the land,” he said.