Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court in Lagos has warned the Attorney-General of Lagos State against distorting the facts in relation to a petition filed against him with the Chief Judge.
This was stated by Justice Osiagor during the resumed hearing of a suit filed by Admiralty Fleet Limited (BICS Garden) and Admiral Festus Porbeni (Rtd) against the Lagos State Attorney General, the National Inland Waterways Authority, and the Chairman of the Lagos State Special Task Force.
When the case came up for hearing, Justice Osiagor informed the parties that, in light of the petition filed by the Attorney-General of Lagos State, he would no longer preside over the case.”I will not pursue this matter further.”
I’ll inform the Administrative Judge that I’d like to recuse myself.
The Attorney General wrote his petition without consulting the court’s record.
Either he was misled by his ministerial counsel, or they intend to be devious.
The Attorney General has distorted the facts, and I will not pursue the matter further.
I will respond appropriately whenever the CJ writes.”
Justice Osiagor stated that if the petitioner had taken the time to look at the court’s record, he would have seen that on October 12, 2021, the court denied an exparte application brought by the plaintiffs and ordered that all defendants be put on notice.
Despite being served with a notice, men from the third defendants invaded the premises on October 14, 2021, causing more damage to structures on the premises/property than had been filed in the original suit.
In his letter to the first and third defendants, Justice questioned why he had not served copies of the petition on his colleagues.
“You prepared a petition but did not serve any of the parties to the suit.”
This is not how a noble profession should be conducted.
This isn’t noble, it’s filthy, it’s not decent, and it’s not transparent.
We are not fighting against ourselves, but we must be guided by principles and integrity rather than primal sentiment.
Apart from being a judge, I have principles that guide me,” Justice Osiagor stated.
The judge, on the other hand, reiterated that the restraining order he issued on October 18, 2021, against the first and third defendants is still in effect and has not been overturned.
He also adjourned the case sine die pending further instructions from the Administrative Judge.
On October 18th, 2021, the court restrained the Lagos State Attorney-General and the Lagos State Special Task Force Unit (1st and 3rd defendants) from allocating any portion of a property located at B20, Wole Olateju Crescent, off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1 in Eti-Osa Local Government Area and/or entering the said premises/ property pending the hearing of the substantive suit. However, the Lagos State Government appealed the order and then re-deployed the Lagos State Task Force police officers to the site, in violation of the injunction order.
The first and third defendants allegedly brought a bulldozer onto the site around 4 a.m. on October 20th, 2021, and demolished additional structures on the site, with Lagos State Task Force policemen protecting those who violated the injunction.
The claimants were so taken with the first and third defendants’ actions that they filed a contempt petition against the Attorney General of Lagos State, requesting that the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Lagos State Government Special Task Force be imprisoned.
However, Adebayo Haroun, counsel for the first and third defendants, informed the court that the Attorney General had written a petition to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, complaining that they had lost faith in the Judge because the Judge had issued a preservative order against them.
However, counsel for the claimants, Olatunji Oyeyipo SAN and Abiodun Olatunji SAN, as well as counsel for the second defendants, NIWA, Adejare Kembi ESQ, told the court that they were surprised by the turn of events and complained that the Attorney General did not deem it fit to serve the petition on them.
According to the plaintiffs’ statement of claim, on December 4, 2008, the second applicant applied to the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) for permits to build a jetty and boat club at Plot 6 BLK A15 off Admiralty Way, Lekki Lagos, which was approved.
They claimed that on September 30, 2021, men and officers from the Lagos State Task Force forcibly entered the disputed premises without prior notice or valid court order and began marking its equipment, machinery, structures, and boats for removal within 48 hours.
They urged the court to declare the 1st applicant’s forcible entry and invasion of his premises trespass and a violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria, as guaranteed by Section 43 of the Constitution.
However, in their Notice of Preliminary Objection, the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Lagos Task Force argued that the subject matter of this action is not one of the specific matters listed in Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) that the court is conferred with jurisdiction to entertain.