DANGOTE COMPANY DRAGGED TO COURT IN LAGOS OVER FORCEFUL LAND ACQUISITION

DANGOTE Company Dragged To Court Over Forceful Land Acquisition


There is no respite yet for Dangote Industries Limited as a Federal high court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria has adjourned till 23rd of November,2022 for the hearing of suit instituted against the company by Pakiti Iberu family in Eyin Osa Epe Lagos state over alleged forceful acquisition of their family land.

This is happening weeks after the Presidency forcefully intervened to reopen Dangote Cement Factory taken over by Kogi Government which claimed the billionaire took over their company and refused to pay compensation.
The respondents in the new suit are,
the 1st Respondent The Governor of Lagos state is the Chief Executive Officer of Lagos State, and Trustee of all lands in the Lagos State.
That the 2nd Respondent The Honourable Attorney General of Lagos state who is the Chief Law Officer of Lagos State.

That the 3rd Respondent Honorable Commissioner of Commerce & Industry of Lagos state is the office responsible for attracting investment to Lagos State and has assumed responsibility of ensuring the resettlement of persons displaced by the land acquisition policy of the 1st Respondent.
That the 4th Respondent The Surveyor-General of Lagos state is the office responsible for mapping lands in Lagos State.Falomo Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.
The 5th respondent Lekki Free Trade Zone Development Company is the vehicle used by the Governor of Lagos state to manage and control the Free trade Zone,comprised of lands acquired for the promoting the commercialism by the respondents.
The 6th Respondent Lekki Worldwide Investment Limited is a commercial Venture of the 1st Respondent
That the 7th respondent Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area and 8th respondent Epe Local Government Area
The 9th Respondent Dangote is a Company registered in Nigeria and carrying on business at Union Marble House,1 Alfred Rewane Road,PMB Falomo Ikoyi, Lagos.Nigeria

In the suit filed before the court by Professor O F.Emiri,on behalf of Wasiu Iberu suing for himself and on behalf of the Pakiti Iberu Family in Eyin Osa,Epe.Lagos state,
Wasiu Iberu, Male, Muslim, Nigerian Citizen of 14 Audu Street, Isale Agoro, Epe, deposed to the facts contained below and states as follows:
He is the Applicant in this Suit, the Family Head of the Iberu Family and Community Head of the Pakiti Iberu Community, located and situated in Eyin Osa, Epe.Lagos State and by his virtue of his position as stated above, he is conversant with the facts of this suit and have the authority of the Principal Members of Iberu family and elders of the Pakiti Iberu Community to depose to this affidavit.

The land known as Pakiti Iberu in Eyin-Osa, Epe was settled on by their ancestors for about four hundred years ago and they have exercised positive acts of possession.

The Pakiti Iberu Community land is bounded to the North by Abule Alarubarika, to the East by Abule Agbomeji, to the South by the Abule Agara and to the West by Abule Etti and measures 35.501 Hectares.

On settlement on the Pakiti Iberu Community Land, their ancestors carried on economic activities including hunting, farming and letting out of the land without let or hindrance.
Pakiti Iberu people have been in undisturbed possession of the land from time immemorial but sometime in 2008, he saw a publication in the Punch Newspaper of May 14, 2008, wherein the Governor of Lagos state stated that the whole of their land stands expropriated by the Respondents and that same shall be appropriated to the activities of the Respondents, especially the activities and concerns of the 5th and 6th Respondents.
He visited the office of the 8th Respondent Epe local Government sometime in 2008 to carry out an inquisition on the newspaper publication and he was informed by the Officials of the 8th Respondent that the Respondents had revoked the Community’s customary right of occupancy through the notice of revocation in the official gazette No. 20, Volume 26 of May 13, 1993.

The said publication state inter alia that: (i) the Lagos State Government represented by the 1 st to 3rd Respondents shall completely relocate them from their congenial ancestral homes to a completely strange environment;
(ii) that in furtherance of destroying their heritage, they would be compensated for native shrines, ancestral burial graves, agricultural crops, houses, forming part of their compulsorily acquired land.
He was informed by Mr. Seyi Soremekun, an Associate in the Law firm of DF Legal, their Counsel in this suit and he verily believe him that:

Before there can be a valid revocation and acquisition of any land in exercise of the power of the Governor of Lagos state under the land used Act,there must notice served personally on the occupants and the owners of such revocation shall be made only on grounds of public purpose.
Compensation on the revoked land shall be made in consideration of all unexhausted improvement.
He is aware that the Respondents did not carry out any enumeration exercise on their lands and as such no notice of revocation was personally served on him or any elder of the Iberu family or pasted on the family house.

He is also aware that their lands revoked by the 1st to 8th respondents
have been purely commercialized under the guise of Industrial development and such revocation was not done for public purpose.

Flowing from the enquiry, he and the Principal members of the Pakiti Iberu family made peaceful representation to the Respondents outlining the unjustness and fundamental breach of their rights based on the said publication as prior notice was not given and it was agreed that the parties shall open a window of negotiation to address the injustice, hardship and assault on the Applicant’s human sensibilities occasioned by the action of the 1st to 3rd Respondents.
A meeting was convened by the 1st to 8th Respondents and at the meeting of August 26, 2014, himself and the principal members and elders of the Pakiti Iberu family made it clear to the Respondents that their plan to wholly uproot our ancestral homes, and transplant them wholesale to a strange, different land is inhuman and against the rules on compulsory acquisition of land.
The said meeting did not yield any result as the Respondents’ attitude did not encourage any further meetings or correspondences as they were not willing to proceed with further communication.

The Respondents forcibly ejected them from their ancestral land and have mounted signboards claiming our ancestral land and is also moving unto the land heavy earth-moving equipment to uproot and utterly destroy every of their conceivable heritage.

The Lagos State Government represented by the 1st, 2nd and the 3rd Respondents have by their actions deprived the family access to their waterfront land, which is critical to their economic survival.

The waterfront is their major access to their market, farms, schools for their children amongst others is through the water transportation access to which is through their waterfronts land.

The construction activities, heavy fulmination and earth moving equipment of the Dangote Industries Limited has made hunting expedition which is a major source of livelihood of the Pakiti Iberu People difficult and highly impossible by scaring away game and resulting in loss of biodiversity in the Pakiti Iberu Land.
The Respondents will continue to proceed with their construction on the land unless restrained and such construction will tremendously change the character of the land which will disrupt the cultural heritage, sacred groves, burial places, ancestral shrines of the Pakiti Iberu Community.
The action of the respondents seeks to completely destroy and fundamentally change their way of life and foist on Pakiti Iberu people an anomalous way of life inimical to their survival as a people

The respondents action of forceful possession of their land has by continuous erection and earth moving equipment has resulted in the deprivation of their right to customary land and deprived them of the power to make decisions regarding the use of their lands.
As a fact that if the act of continued trespass on their communal land is not restrained it will occasion irreparable loss that cannot be adequately quantified in monetary
The Pakiti Iberu family cannot be compensated or adequately compensated by the respondents if the act of trespass is not restrained.

That as the head of the Pakiti Iberu people, he undertake to pay damages to the respondents should it turns out that this application ought not to have been granted.
Consequently prays this honorable court for the following reliefs:

A declaration that the forceful acquisition of the Applicant’s property by the 1st-9th Respondents without recourse to due process is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional and it violates the Applicant’s right to property as enshrined under section 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended), Article 14 and 21(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

A declaration that the unlawful revocation of the Applicant’s customary right of occupancy by the 1st Respondents without recourse to due process is a violation of the Applicant’s right to property as enshrined under section 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) and Article 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

A declaration that the forceful possession of the Applicant’s land is a violation of their property rights land as enshrined under section 43 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a violation of their rights enshrined under Article 14abd21(2)of the African Charter on Human
and Peoples’ rights Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

A declaration that the unlawful purported sale of the Applicant’s property by the 1st-8th Respondents without recourse to due process is a violation of the Applicant’s right to property as enshrined under section 44 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) and Article 14 of the African Charter on Human Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Laws of the Federation of 2004.
A declaration that the construction, mining and exploration activities of the
Dangote Industries which has made hunting expedition; a major source of lively hood of Pakiti Iberu Family, difficult and highly impossible, is a violation of the right to satisfactory environment, general right to life, right to work favorable to their survival as enshrined under Articles 4 &15 of the African Charter on Human Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Laws of the Federation of 2004.

An order of general damages of N50 000 000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) against the respondents for the breaches of the Applicants rights.

A perpetual order of injunction restraining the Respondents, their agents, officers organs howsoever described from interfering with the Applicant’s property taking any untoward action against the Applicant’s property.

However in a counter affidavit sworn to by a legal practitioner Bola Jolaade, from Fola Sowemimo & Co, On behalf of Dangote Industries,he averred that,the company is law-abiding corporate organization that recognize and respects the laws of Nigeria and denies forcibly acquiring the land from the applicant through the instrumentality of the 1st-8th defendants

The land occupied by Dangote Industries
which was allocated to it
by the Lagos State Government is used for industrial purpose by it’s sister company for Oil and Gas refining.
The Dangote Industries is occupying and is in possession of a part of the parcel of land acquired by the Lagos State Government in 1993 allocated to the company for overriding public purposes.
The Dangote Industries Limited denies that it is in trespass of the land as the land was duly allocated to the company by the 1st – 6th Respondent.
The Dangote Industries Limited states that it has never used and or is using the instrumentality of the 1st – 8th Respondent to violate the rights of the Applicant on any land and is not involved in such acts alleged by the Applicant.

That this suit is an abuse of the process of the court as there is a pending fundamental rights suit; BETWEEN ALHAJI MUFUTAU & 4 ORS V. THE GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATES & ORS before this Federal high court instituted on behalf of the same Eyin-Osa Community by the Applicant’s Counsel in this suit.
Consequently, the Applicants are not entitled to the reliefs endorsed on the origination motion.
That the subject matter of this suit is land arising from the acquisition of the said land by the Governor of Lagos state for overriding public purpose to which the Applicant counsel has also filed Suit EDP/7474/LMW/2018 BETWEEN THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF EYIN-OSAUNIKED KINGDOM DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION,EPE VS THE GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE & 8 OTHERS,in respect of the same subject matter at the Lagos High court,Epe Judicial Division.

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