A LagosHighCourt, sittingatIkejahasput a stop to age-long controversy over ownership of contentious Aiyetoro Village, Bayeku, Ijede LCDA, an outskirt of Lagos, confirming Adasofunjo family as authentic owner of thelandmeasuring165.011hectares.
Justices L.A.F. Oluyemi, after consideration of a suit initiated before him by three different parties, delivered judgment in favour of Adasofunjo family led by their lawyer, Mr. Aigg Gabriel Giwa-Amu, leading Mr. Monday Joseph Uleyo.
The parties, who engagedinlegal fireworks for 11 years are Prince Mojeed Ajombadi Aniyera, Prince Lateef Aniyera and Chief Adewale Ajala representing Aniyera Royal familyof Ijede, ononepartasclaimants, while Mr. Adio Mustapha, Mr. Amuda Balogun, Mr. AyindeTanimowoand Mr. Amuda AkereKan representing Adasofunjo Descendant family, on second part as defendants.
The third party, Omotayo Ogunkalu, Felicia Ogunkalu, Festus Ogunfeyinmi, and Oluwole Ogunfeyinmi, joined by the order of the court as defendants representing Onibore Ajibode Family of Bayeku, all laying claims and counter-claims as founders and owners of Ayetoro village, relying on traditional evidence and history to buttress their claims of ownership.
Evaluating the claims and counter-claims of the parties, the judge observed that the evidence before it was that the defendants representing the Adasofunjo family on traditional history was not impeached as the evidence remained substantially unchallenged or controverted.
Justice Oluyemi said: “The implication in law is that the unchallenged and uncontroverted evidence of a party is deemed admitted by the adversary” as it satisfied the 3-tier guideline set out in authorities, of who founded the land, the manner of the land was founded, and the circumstances leading to it; and the successive persons to whom the land thereafter devolved through unbroken chain or in such a way that there is no gap which cannot be explained.
Besides, the Judge ruled that from the evidence before the court, there was nothing to show that Aiyetoro is part and parcel of Ijede.
On the contrary, the judge ruled that nothing was known or said or averred about Aniyera whom the claimants relied on as the founder of Aiyetoro, save that he was a Prince and direct descendant of Ajede, the founder of Ijede.
“PrinceAniyera’sdescendantsthatwereallegedlysettledatAiyetorowerenotstated. The genealogy and line of descendants of Prince Aniyeratothepresentclaimantsandhowthey becamerelatedtothesaidPrinceAniyerawas not averred or given in evidence.
“Thesuccessive descendants of Prince Aniyerawasnotstatedintheclaimants’amended statement of claim; descendants of Aniyera to whom the Ayetoro land thereafter devolved after the first Prince Aniyera who allegedly founded Ayetoro over 400 years ago was not stated; andas such, how thepresent claimants stepped into succession line remains in the realm of imagination.
Besides, the judge observed that Adasofunjo family representatives produced evidence that at least three baales (Pa Alao, Agbeetan and Mojeed Adenifuja) were from their descent of Aiyetoro while neither Aniyera nor Ajibode had ever produced a baale.
“Thesepiecesof evidencearestrongindices of proof of authority and invariably ownership of the Aiyetoro land by the Adasofunjo DescendantFamilyrepresentedbythe1st– 4th defendants/counter claimants. “I find the historical evidence as narrated by the 1st- 4 defendants/counter claimants convincing and conclusive…
“To proclaim the 9th defendant as owner of the land in dispute in respect of which the 9th defendant is appealing will be tantamount to judicial rascality.
“In the light of all I have said, I find that the claimants fail to lead cogent, concrete and credible traditional evidence in prove of their alleged ownership or title to Aiyetoro land as such the declarative relief sought by the claimants are hereby dismissed.
Consequent upon that, all ancillary orders sought in their amended statement of claim are dismissed.
Commenting on the judgment, Chief Giwa-Amu described it as elucidating, thorough and real justice, while describing the judge as fearless, impartial and God-fearing.