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​Court issues report on Lagos property takeover

Head, Deputy Sheriff, High Court of Lagos, Mrs J. A. Anabor, has issued a report on the takeover of a Victoria Island property belonging to a former Head of Service in Lagos, the late Mr C. O. Bajulaiye.
The Bajulaiye family accused the police of obstructing the cause of justice by frustrating the execution of a judgment over the property.
The family said their late father leased the property located on 8, Agoro Odiyan Street, off Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island, to a company, Crown Star Limited.
They sought to recover possession of the property and filed a suit at the Lagos Magistrates’ Court.
On May 8, the court ordered Crown Star to give up possession of the five-bedroom detached house, two-bedroom guest chalet, and three-room boys quarters on or before last May 10, and mesne profit at the rate of N3million.
Crown Star filed a motion seeking leave to appeal the judgment. It sought an order for stay of execution. Both were dismissed.
In line with the judgment, the family took possession of the property based on a warrant duly authorised by the court on August 15 and executed by the court Sheriff.
However, hours after taking possession, a group of armed policemen from the state Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Panti stormed the property and arrested five security guards placed on duty by the family.
The police also warned the family not to interfere with possessory rights of Crown Star, warning that the family’s representatives would be arrested and prosecuted should they do so.
Crown Star was allegedly allowed to remain on the property, with the aid of the police.
The police allegedly claimed that the family’s possession of the property was unlawful for the failure of the Sheriff to be accompanied by policemen to execute possession.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Bolaji Salami, reportedly claimed that it was the SCID’s prerogative to investigate the lawfulness of the execution of the warrant.
But, the report by the Deputy Sheriff states that the warrant of possession issued against Crown Star “is legal” and that “valid steps were taken” before the possession was executed.
Anabor, in the report addressed to the Chief Judge, said a certified true copy of the ruling dated August 14 and the enrolled order were obtained.
Afterwards, the case file was forwarded to the Records Section, from where it was sent to the Assistant Chief Registrar, Litigation for necessary action, she said.
Anabor added that a Recovery of Premises Form IV, which is the warrant for possession, was duly completed and endorsed, as well as the Judgment Form 41 (Notice of Attachment).
“Form showing that that there is no pending application in the matter was endorsed. There was request for police assistance to stem any violence that may arise in the course of executing the warrant,” she said.
According to the Head, Deputy Sheriff, the court’s ruling remains in force.
“The enforcement of the ruling of court dated August 14 remains valid and subsisting until set aside by a competent court.
“Crown Star Limited cannot use the fact that it served the department a temporary application to, amongst others, stay execution as a substitute for obtaining the judgment, which the trial court denied it,” Anabor added.
Crown Star, in its defence to the suit, is claiming multi-million naira compensation for renovations it claimed to have done on the property.
“It is the defendant’s case that it is still entitled to a renewal of the lease even after the expiration of the 15 years under the agreement in view of the massive improvements undertaken by them,” Crown Star said.

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