Collapse fear: Lagos magistrate orders nine-storey building’s takeover

Collapse fear: Lagos magistrate orders nine-storey building’s takeover

A Lagos State Magistrates’ Court at Tinubu has ordered the takeover of a nine-storey building known as African Continental Bank building at No. 106/108 Broad Street, Lagos Island.

A chief magistrate, Adedamola Paul, who made the takeover order, said it was “for exigent abatement of nuisance and outright protective restorative purposes.”

The magistrate’s order followed averments by a firm, Consolidated Discounts Limited, which identified itself as the bona fide owner of the building but said it was being occupied by “unknown persons” suspected to be street urchins, who “are engaging in reckless and indiscriminate storage of unidentifiable items and materials all within the property.”

The firm, in a suit marked MCL/469/2021 filed against “persons unknown”, said all its attempts to take possession of the building were being rebuffed by the “persons unknown”, adding that the state of the property had become deplorable with fears that it might collapse without urgent repairs.

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The magistrate, in a certified true copy of his December 14, 2021 judgment seen by our correspondent, said he was convinced by the averments of the claimants, which were not disputed because the “persons unknown” did not show up in court despite evidence of being served with the suit and hearing notices.

The magistrate said, “I am strongly convinced that the claimant’s attorney has adduced cogent, convincing and sufficient evidence to hold that the property in its aforesaid deplorable state is indeed in dire need of outright, substantial and compellable repairs and I believe it is justifiable to so declare in the prevailing circumstances.

“Basically, considering the alarming rampancy of incidence of collapse buildings and the accompanying avoidable human fatalities, a court faced with a case of these ominous and precarious characteristics certainly has a fundamental judicial responsibility to use its vantage position and the law as proactive instrument of social engineering.”

The magistrate, therefore, ordered the defendants to relinquish possession of the property to the claimant “for exigent abatement of nuisance and outright protective restorative purposes.”

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He directed the Deputy Sheriff of the Lagos State High Court to step in and eject the “persons unknown” should they refuse to surrender possession to the claimant.

In the alternative, the magistrate said the Lagos State Building Control Agency should step in and “take all such reasonably necessary measures to ensure and/or enforce immediate evacuation of the defendants from the said premises.”

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