The Lagos State High Court has restrained a former Nigeria international professional footballer, Wilson Oruma, and a firm, Dok Engineering Services Limited, from entering a piece of land measuring 57,739.633square metres at Idasho Village, Elekan in Ibeju Lekki.
Justice W. Animahun granted an interim injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves or their agents “from attempting to enter, entering or alienating or in any way disturbing the claimant’s possession of all that land…”
The order, granted for seven days on August 24, was to subsist pending the hearing and determination of the substantive motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.
The claimant, through its counsel K. C. Atuenyi, applied to the court for an extension of the order in the face of the long vacation to prevent the respondents from encroaching on the land while the suit was still pending.
Justice M. O. Obadina, who took over from Justice Animahun as the vacation judge, granted an extension of the order for another seven days. It will lapse on September 12.
The claimant, Megallus Nigeria Limited, is praying for an order compelling Oruma to assign and endorse all documents transferring his rights over the property.
In an affidavit of urgency, the claimant’s Managing Director, Ifeanyi Okafor, claimed that, during the pendency of the suit and upon commencement of the long vacation, Dok Engineering “in collusion” with the Oruma, “forcefully beset the land” and started erecting fences and partitioning the property in dispute into two equal halves.
The claimant said it was “in the bid to hoodwink the honourable court into believing that it (Dok Engineering) is in actual possession, and which we verily believe is also an act preparatory to selling and/or alienating same in a manner that will render nugatory any eventual judgment of the Honourable Court.”
Megallus Nigeria accused the respondents of contempt and urged the court to hear the suit urgently.
The claimant said that, sometime in August 2013, Oruma offered it a parcel of land for sale, and it made a part-payment of N5 million out of N90 million, with the balance to be paid in four months.
The claimant said that due to its inability to complete the balance, a new payment plan was drawn up, in which he paid additional N15 million, with the balance to be paid by March 31, 2014.
The firm said when it sought to complete the payment and presented Oruma with eight managers’ cheques on March 31, 2014, totalling N70 million, the defendant allegedly refused to collect the cheques and also did not execute the instruments of transfer, including deed of assignment.
The claimant said the former footballer instead offered to refund the N20 million part payment, rather than collecting full payment.
According to Megallus Nigeria, Oruma claimed that he received an offer double what the claimant first offered and, therefore, would not accept a lesser offer.
But the claimant said the defendant “is estopped from reneging on an obligation voluntarily contracted and upon which the claimant had already furnished consideration to the extent that it can no longer revert to its former position.”
Megallus Nigeria said Dok Engineering (the second defendant), which claimed to have also bought the land from Oruma, could not rely on any agreement between it and the ex-footballer to overreach the claimant’s initial agreement with Oruma.
Besides, the claimant said a deed of assignment between Dok Engineering and Oruma “was fraudulently procured” as the suit had already been instituted and proceedings ongoing when the deed of assignment, dated October 15, 2014, was procured.
Megallus Nigeria said requirements of the law were not complied with in executing the deed, including obtaining the governor’s consent, adding that it was not signed by the truly accredited representatives of families entitled to deal in or dispose of the land.
The claimant also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from entering or alienating or disturbing the claimant’s possession of the land.
Megallus Nigeria prayed for an order nullifying or setting aside any sale, alienation, assignment or transfer of the land to Dok Engineering or any other person by Oruma.
However, the defendants are praying the court to dismiss the suit.
Oruma claimed the plaintiff did not pay for the land in line with the agreement.
Dok Engineering is claiming it acquired the land legally, therefore, the suit was unmeritorious.
Justice Obadina adjourned until September 8 for hearing of the motion on notice.
By Chinyere Obia