The plaintiffs are suing the police and others for wrongful demolition of their houses.
A High Court in Badagry on Monday fixed July 14 for ruling in a suit against the police and the Lagos State government over wrongful demolition of houses in the Atinporomeh Community.
Twenty-two plaintiffs had commenced the suit under the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules, on behalf of other residents. They are claiming N100 billion as damages from the police.
They plaintiffs are Charles Adu, Joshua Medepo, Godwin Ogungbe, Oluseyi Adeleye, Alao Alapanla, Johnson Adebiyi, Justice Ovemurai, Afolabi Olukoya, Ibrahim Adedeji, Kolawole Adewumi, Edun Talabi, Joseph Onwueka and Joseph Ibukun.
Others are: Adebayo Oke, Olanipekun Ayanleye, Sylvester Enebeli, Shittu Abdullahi, Afolabi Kehinde, Ahmeed Alade, Iwueze Emmanuel, Oladimeji Oluwaseun, and Martha Adeogun.
Joined as respondents are the Inspector General of Police; Commissioner of Police, Lagos State; the Area Commander, Area K Police Command; Ministry of Police Affairs, and the Lagos Task Force on Environment and Special Offences.
Other respondents are the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development; the Lagos State Lands Bureau; the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The plaintiffs are claiming damages against the respondents, for alleged wrongful demolition of their houses.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, the counsel representing the fourth to seventh respondents, Samuel Ajanaku, informed the court of a motion for preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
He argued that the suit was incompetent, since it ought not to have been commenced by way of a fundamental rights enforcement procedure.
The Counsel to the applicants, Declan Kemdirim, in opposition, submitted that the entire reliefs sought by the applicants, were within the scope of Chapter Four of the constitution, adding that the suit was properly commenced.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya reserved ruling till July 14.
Meanwhile, in a sister suit involving the title to the land in dispute, the judge issued an order of interlocutory injunction restraining all defendants, applicants, or their privies, from interfering with the subject matter.
She ordered that the status quo should be maintained, until the determination of the suit.
The judge also issued an order for accelerated hearing of the substantive suit.
In their affidavit, the plaintiffs averred that on December 14, 2013, they received a letter from the police that residents of the area should vacate their houses and land.
“The said letter from the second respondent, specifically mentioned Agemowo and Agelado Mowo, Badagry, while our Community is at Atiporome, Araromi extension and Mowo Phase 2.
“We contacted our solicitors and informed them of the situation, and then, a letter was drafted to clear the air that our communities were at Atiporome, but all our efforts to serve the letter on the second respondent were rebuffed.
“All efforts made to also serve the letter on the third respondent’s office, were equally rebuffed by the respondents, who chased us out of the area command,’’ they said.
The applicants said that surprisingly on December 16, 2013 at about 4.30 a.m., over 100 armed police officers from the Lagos State Task Force, put the community under siege and began to pull down their houses with bulldozers.
“Over 1500 houses were demolished, while a six-months old baby was killed in one of the houses demolished,’’ they alleged.
According to the applicants, they were not allowed to pick anything from their houses before the demolition, while scores of residents and youth were indiscriminately arrested.
The applicants, therefore, sought a declaration that the forceful demolition of their premises by the respondents was wicked, oppressive and unconstitutional.
In addition, they claim the sum of N5 million as costs of action.