Legal Nigeria

Lagos asks Judge to hands off Porbeni case

Robert Egbe


The Lagos State Government yesterday asked Justice David Osiagor of the Federal High Court in Lagos to recuse himself from a suit filed by Admiral Festus Porbeni (Retd) over a disputed Lekki property.

It averred in an application by its counsel, Adebayo Haroun. that it was not confident of getting a fair hearing following Justice Osiagor’s alleged refusal to hear its pending application.

Porbeni filed the suit to challenge the state’s demolition of his property at B20, Wole Olateju Crescent, off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1 in Eti-Osa Local government Area (LGA).

He and his firm Admiralty Fleet Limited (BICS Garden) named the Attorney-General, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Chairman, Lagos State Task Force as first, second and third defendant.

The plaintiffs through their counsel, Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN) prayed the court to declare that the alleged forcible entry and invasion of their premises by the defendants amounted to trespass, alleging that it violated a court order.

But Haroun argued that Justice Osiagor had refused to hear the state’s October 15, 2021 application challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Lagos division to hear and determine “a matter pertaining to land”.

He submitted that while the application challenging the court’s jurisdiction was pending, the judge proceeded to hear and grant an application for an injunction in favour of the plaintiffs.

The lawyer averred that on November 5, 2021, the court again refused to take either the pending application challenging its jurisdiction or the application for stay of execution pending the determination of an appeal filed by the defendants on October 22, 2021, but went on to further direct the defendants to vacate the land.

Haroun added that on November 1, 2021, the Attorney General of Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) wrote a letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court requesting him to transfer the case file of the matter to another court.

“However, when the matter came up for hearing on November 5, 2021, rather than wait for and/or respect the powers of the Chief Judge to approve or reject the request, Justice Osiagor continued to hear the matter and made further order directing defendants/applicants to vacate the land,” Haroun maintained.

He also stated that the court granted the order of injunction on October 18, 2021, despite being made aware that the act for which an injunction was being sought was a completed act.