Lagos appeals verdict directing resettlement of Otodogbame community

The Lagos State Government has asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of a Lagos High Court in Igbosere which faulted the demolition of illegal structures in Otodo Gbame Community and ordered the resettlement of displaced persons in the area.

The State Government, in a Notice of Appeal dated June 22, 2017, filed before the Lagos division of Appeal Court, said apart from violating Constitutional provisions, the judgment of the lower court delivered by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo on June 21, was capable of encouraging illegality.

In the appeal which was hinged on two grounds, the State Government argued that the lower court erred in law and misdirected itself when it made far reaching decisions that conflicted with the facts of the matter as placed before the court.

According to the first ground, the government, through its lawyer, Mr Saheed Quadri, Director of Civil Litigation, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, said Justice Onigbanjo erred in law when he held that the demolition was illegal when in fact there was no demolition carried out in Otodo Gbame prior to the institution of the suit.

Going into details, the government said there was a fire outbreak in Otodo Gbame caused by violent clash between two rival cult groups, and that the fire engulfed and destroyed the entire community with no residents and property remaining, as the destroyed shanties were built with corrugated iron sheets, woods and bamboos.

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In ground two, the government argued that the lower court erred when it held that the State Government should hold consultations with the communities before any further evictions, and also provide compensation for the destruction of their properties, contending that in as much as Chapter 4 of the Constitution provides for fundamental rights, some rights contained provisos that made such rights not sacrosanct and absolute.

It said: “There are abundance of uncontroverted evidence before the lower court that the structures built along riverine/swampy areas of the State are without building permit as required under the Urban and Regional Development Planning Law.

“The respondents have constructed illegal shanties and structures without the requisite building permit/approval and the rights under the Constitution does not permit breach of a law or exempt anybody whosoever from building without first obtaining requisite approval. The respondents are squatters and deliberately failed to put the issue of title in contention.”

The government, therefore, argued that the order as to consultation, resettlement and compensation was without justification based on the evidence before the lower court, adding that Justice Onigbanjo’s judgment was a violation of Chapter 4 of the Constitution as it sought to encourage illegality.

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