Anxiety has gripped landlords and tenants in Atoyo Adubiagbe-Oga community, in the Sagamu Local Government Area of Ogun State, after court ordered a family to take possession of over 500 houses in the area.
The Ogun State High Court sitting in Sagamu on Monday declared the family of Adubiagbe as the lawful owner of the community.
The court also gave the family rights to take possession of property on the land, which had been in dispute for 17 years.
It was gathered that there had been a legal tussle between the families of Adefowodu-Oyelaru and Adubiagbe on the ownership of the Atoyo Adubiagbe-Oga community, which covers about 67 hectares of land.
It was learnt that the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu, while serving as a judge at the state High Court, dismissed an application filed by the Adefowodu-Oyelaru family claiming ownership of the land.
But the family appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal in Ibadan, Oyo State, which redirected the case to the Ogun State High Court for retrial.
While delivering his judgement, Justice Nasiru Agbelu noted that the Adefowodu-Oyelaru family had not been able to prove ownership of the land based on the traditional evidence tendered, which he said had “unexplainable gaps.”
He, however, said the Adubiagbe family provided “credible, reliable and detailed traditional evidence” to back its claim of being the owner of the land.
Justice Agbelu declared that the family was, therefore, the true owner of the disputed land.
He said all transactions, sales and acts done by the Adefowodu-Oyelaru family on the land were invalid, null and void.
The court further awarded the sum of N500,000 to be paid by the Adefowodu-Oyelaru family for trespassing on the land.
“The claimants’ failure to claim where their progenitor came further weakens their traditional history.
“The defendants provided credible, reliable and detailed information of the children of their progenitor up to the present generation,” Justice Agbelu added.
A visit to the community after the judgement showed that landlords and residents were in a state of anxiety over their fate.
Some residents expressed concern on whether they would be asked to vacate their property or re-purchase the land, adding that the judgement had destabilised them.
One of the landlords, who identified himself as Inspector Williams, pleaded with the family which got the judgement to show mercy on them.
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He said, “I have bought this land twice from the family that lost the case. I am pleading with this family to consider us and not resell the land to us.”
Another landlord, Kadiri Adewunmi, said he was afraid of the aftermath of the judgement.
Adewunmi said there was no way he could afford to pay another money for the land.
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