Court declares Otodo Gbame eviction unlawful

A Lagos High Court in Igbosere, Wednesday, restrained the Lagos State Government from carrying out further evictions of settlers of several waterfront communities, declaring it as unconstitutional.

Justice Surajudeen Onigbanjo gave the order while delivering judgment in a suit brought last year by 33 applicants on behalf of themselves and other residents of the settlements.

The settlements include Otodo Gbame, Tomaro, Otumara, Orisunmibare, Oko Agbon, Itun Atan, Sogunro, the Ikorodu communities of Ofin, Bayeku, Olufunke Majidun and the Bariga communities of Ago Egun and Ebute-Ilaje.

Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, the governor and the Commissioner of Police are the first, second, third and fourth respondents in the matter.

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The judge also ordered both parties to begin talks on how to resolve the relocation of the residents.

The suit was initiated following the forcible eviction of the settlers and the repeated demolition of the settlements allegedly by the government.

Judgment in the suit stalled since April 12 last year, when the court suo moto (on its own motion) raised the issue of its jurisdiction.

Justice Onigbanjo ruled that the matter was properly before the court.

The judge observed, among others, that the gulf between both parties wasn’t as insurmountable as they made it appear and that there was no dispute over the ownership of the land.

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“The land occupied by the applicants is under the control and the management of the executive governor of the state.

“From the affidavit evidence made available to me, the applicants never claimed ownership of the land, but have over the years settled on the land. It will be wrong for them to be forcibly evicted from a land they have been on for several years,” Justice Onigbanjo said.

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