Some landlords at the Kings Cottage Community Development Area, Pakuro, in the Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, have faulted their arrest by the Police Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Lagos State, over a land dispute.
PUNCH Metro gathered that policemen from the SFU stormed the community last Friday and arrested 12 landlords while they waited to have a meeting with a businesswoman, identified as Chief Iyabo, and her lawyer, Ola Shobowale.
Our correspondent learnt that sometime in 2019, Iyabo visited the community with a court judgment, which she said gave her rights to the community land.
However, the landlords, who were not a party to the matter in court, filed another suit before the Ogun State High Court, while the family the landlords bought the land from filed an appeal against the judgement.
A landlord in the community, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the affected landlords decided to negotiate out of court with Iyabo and proposed to re-purchase their land.
Iyabo’s lawyer, in a letter, reportedly slated a meeting with his client last Friday.
The landlord said while they waited for the woman, the lawyer, Shobowale, led policemen from SFU to arrest them.
He said, “A businesswoman claimed to have gone to court in 2007 and got a judgement in 2014, but she waited till 2019 before she executed the judgement by writing ‘Possession Taken’ on our buildings.
“Meanwhile, in 2007 that she went to court, most of us had been living in the community and we were not aware of the case till they came to write on the walls and locked some houses. So, we decided to go to court for us to be joined as interested parties to set aside the judgement. While we were doing that, an appeal was filed by the family against the judgement the woman got in 2014, while our own was going on in court.
“When we saw that it was taking a longer time, we decided to negotiate with the woman, and her lawyer obliged us. We decided that if the negotiation was satisfactory, we would withdraw our case in court.
“We wrote a letter dated December 13, 2021, through her lawyer that we should pay N800,000 and her lawyer wrote back on December 29 that they rejected the offer, demanding N1.5m, but notwithstanding, he would bring his client for a meeting with us.
“The meeting was fixed for 9am last Friday and we were waiting for them at the venue only for the lawyer to lead policemen from SFU to arrest us.”
PUNCH Metro gathered that the policemen collected the phones of the landlords, saying they were being taken to the Mowe Police Station.
However, the cops did not stop at the station as they reportedly headed for Lagos.
Another landlord told our correspondent that families of the arrested landlords became worried, as they could not reach them or know their whereabouts.
“We were shocked because we did not know why the police would be involved in a case already in court. After interventions, we were released that Friday evening and asked to come back this Friday (tomorrow).
“Meanwhile, when we got there, we were asked to begin the meeting we wanted to have and the woman, on phone, said she was not collecting N1.5m again that she wanted N2m per plot.
“SFU does not have anything to do with this case. We were taken to the property fraud unit of SFU and this is not a property fraud case; this is a case before the court and it has an appeal that has not been heard. We want the SFU to desist from the matter because if the woman is not satisfied, she may still go back to court, not to the police,” the landlord added.
When PUNCH Metro contacted Iyabo, she referred our correspondent to her lawyer.
The lawyer said the SFU was investigating a series of criminal activities involving the landlords.
He said, “There was a court judgement and the judgement was appealed, but abandoned for four years and the Court of Appeal struck out the appeal. The High Court of Ogun State, through the Office of the Deputy Sheriff, made the execution on property within Pakuro on November 20, 2019.
“The people, who were on the land after the execution of judgement and possession was taken from them, broke the chains and padlocks and went back into the houses despite the court judgement and execution of judgement.
“I also discovered that their lawyer filed an application to set aside the judgement of the court and I have replied accordingly. They are not supposed to resort to self-help by going back into the houses; they took possession illegally through self-help and that is what the police are investigating.”
The SFU Police Public Relations Officer, Eyitayo Johnson, promised to find out about the case and get back to our correspondent.
He had yet to do so as of press time.
Contact: [email protected]