Magodo Supreme Court Judgment And The Burden Of Truth


Recently, the media has been inundated with the story of “an unnamed Chief Superintendent of Police who declined Lagos state Governor Sanwo Olu’s Order to remove Police men from Magodo Estate”

A lot of commentators believe the cob’s refusal was a slap on the Governor, however they failed to understand that what happened was actually a triumph of Nigeria’s constitution.

I will explain;

In 1984 when the Military Government of Lagos state demolished the property of Shangisha Landlord Association without compensating them, the association went to court instead of resulting to self-help.

The Lagos state high court then ruled against Lagos state stressing that the Association was entitled to right of first choice allocation of 549 plots. Instead of Lagos state government to accept the verdict of the court in good faith they decided to appeal the judgment.  As at that time there were less than 100houses compared to 6,000 houses currently.

Since Lagos state has gone on appeal, was it not right for them to halt allocation or reserve 549 plots in case they fail at the court?

Lagos state lost the appeal in 1992. Should Lagos State at this point not have called for a negotiation?  The interesting thing is at the court of Appeal, Justice Oguntade who gave the lead judgment against Lagos State is an indigene of the state.

Lagos State, however, will not accept the ruling so the matter went to the Supreme Court in year 2012 where the verdict also went against the state government. Since the Association will require Lagos High Court to issue a writ of execution, Lagos state government frustrated the issuance of same. The Association petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria who then sent a query to the then Chief Judge Atilade who subsequently issued the writ of execution.

Again Lagos state will still not accept defeat but went ahead to cause division amongst the Association and aided a fall out faction to get a Lagos State Judge loyal to Justice Adebiyi to set aside a writ of execution granted by the chief Judge. Another petition was written against Justice Adebiyi but on the day she was to attend to her petition at NJC in Abuja, it was withdrawn for obvious reason, through the intervention of Mr. Olanipekun lawyer to the Association then.

After all said and done, in 2019 the Association decided to write a fresh petition to the Attorney General of the Federation to get a legal advice. The AGF contacted the Supreme Court to find out if the judgment was indeed true after finding out the authenticity of the judgment. The AGF wrote to the Lagos State Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, regarding why the Association has not been allocate 549 plots.

Lagos state government responded by saying that they have not been able to identify those they were to give the land to. The AGF got back to the Association with the response of State government and the Association made gave the details to Lagos state. After waiting for 18months for Lagos state to meet with the association towards resolving the issue to no avail, the AGF issued a legal advice stating that the Association is entitled to 549 plots in Magodo and that the Police should protect them towards peaceful allocation of their Land.

On November 16th, 2021, the Inspector General of Police wrote a letter to the Governor informing him of the Police intention to enforce the court decision. Thereafter, IGP waited for more than a month and there was no response from the Governor. So December 21st, 2021 the policemen moved into Magodo.

On December 22, 2021 the Governor called the IGP to stop the execution of the court order and remove his men from Magodo and the IGP accepted to stop the execution but insisted that the policemen will still remain until the Governor resolve the issue.

Two weeks after, there was no call for a meeting with the Association to resolve the matter,  the Magodo Resident Association suspecting the judgment may be executed, came out on January 4, 2022 to stage a protest that led to the Governor coming to intervene at Magodo.

Issues arising from the Governor’s intervention:

  1. Was the Governor right in telling the CSP to call the IGP? No, because the Governor had direct communication link with IGP and AGF.
  2. Can a CSP call the IGP? No, by command structure a junior officer on battlefield cannot call his boss to change instruction, it will take the same senior officer to call the junior officer to step down.

Secondly, it’s instructive to hear the Governor telling the CSP that if he should place the call to both the IGP and the AGF it will be tougher for the CSP.

Interestingly, the Governor came out from the call and his countenance changed and he affirmed that the association was his subject, the same association they had threatened to prosecute two weeks earlier, for criminal charges.

What truth did the governor hear from the IGP and the AGF that weakened him? Story for another day.

It has, however, taken Lagos state government 38years to call the meeting with the association. Most of the members of the Association have died over time and are not able to witness this day but to those still  alive and well, it’s a triumph to the nation’s constitution, triumph to the rule of law and triumph to human rights  such that when all have failed in the state we can call on federal to intervene.

God bless Lagos state, Good bless Nigeria.

*culled from a social commentator

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