Epe Communal Land: Court Declares Awujale, Oloja Epe as Rightful Owners

Justice Sharafa Abioye Olaitan of a Lagos State High Court sitting in Epe Division, has declared that the Iposu Chieftaincy Family, is not the rightful owner of the 1168.141 hectares (2886.534 acres) of land situated at Epe Communal land.

The land includes the large expanse of land at Akesan and Papa, alleged to be bounded by Epe Lagoon, Santos Family land, Lupotoro Family land, Odofin Compound, Jubulu Family land, and Itemu River measuring 1168.141 hectares (2886.534 acres) more particularly shown on Composite Plan No: ASC/050°/LA/2020 drawn by Surveyor F. A. Ogunbadejo dated 10th of August 2020.

In a judgment delivered on Friday, September 29, 2023, Justice Olaitan ruled that the large expanse of land is fully owned by the Oloja of Epe, Oba Kamoru Animashaun, and the Awujale of Ijebu-land Oba Sikiru Adetona.

The court verdict was delivered after eight years of a legal tussle between Professor Sulaiman Owolabi Talabi, Chief Olayiwola Alade Oladunjoye, and Chief Wale Mogaji who sued for themselves and on behalf of the Iposu Chieftaincy Family as a defendant in the suit number EPD/131LMW/2016 against the counter claimants: Mr. Bayo Rasaq, Mr. Ahmed Rasaq, the Oloja of Epe, the Awujale of Ijebu Land, and Rivebond Nigeria Limited.

Justice Olaitan ruled that the Defendants failed to tender the survey plan used in the Supreme Court case upon which the judgment was based.

The court noted that if the Defendants had done that, in giving judgment to the Counter claimants in this case, She would have directed that the extent of the land covered by the survey plan in Solomon v Solomon be removed from Ijebu land (i.e. from Exhibit FOA 2) for the benefit of the Defendants since the matter was a judgment upheld by the Supreme Court.

“I will also have taken the same position for all the Supreme Court judgments relied upon by the Defendants in this case. But what do we have? The Defendants did not present any of the survey plans used in all the judgments they relied upon. During cross-examination, DW1 could not even provide answers to all the questions asked relating to those judgments.

In conclusion, after weighing the evidence of each of the Counter claimants and the evidence of the Defendants on the imaginary scale of justice, I find on a balance of probabilities that the scale of justice tilts in favor of the Counter claimants.

“Concerning the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Counter claimants, I grant reliefs I, II, III, and V. I award five million naira only (N5, 000,000.00) as damages under Relief FV thereof. 1 award cost of five million nairas only (N5,000,000.) against the Defendants and in favor of the two Counter claimants to be shared in the | ratio 70% for the 5th Counter claimant and 30% for the 1st, 2nd and 4th Counter claimants