A 60-year-old tenant at a building on Adeniji Adele Road, Lagos Island, Mr Apata Akinsemoyin, has petitioned the acting Chief Justice of Lagos, K.O. Alogba, over alleged illegal execution of a judgment delivered at a Lagos Magistrates’ Court sitting in Ogba.
The petitioner stated that the order, carried out on July 17, 2019, led to his eviction from a two-bedroom flat.
He claimed that the process violated his rights as he had filed a motion for appeal at an Ikeja High Court in May 2019.
Akinsemoyin stated in the acknowledged copy of the petition obtained by City Round and dated July 22, 2019, that in a case with suit no MCL/466/2017, between him and a claimant, Alhaji Fatai Okoosi, the presiding magistrate, Mrs S.K Matepo, did not allow him to defend himself during the trial.
Our correspondent learnt that the case started at an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court under Matepo and was later transferred to the Ogba Magistrates’ Court, upon the transfer of the presiding magistrate to the Ogba court.
Akinsemoyin said he had earlier petitioned the office of the CJ on the judgment, adding that he appealed the ruling based on its recommendation.
He explained that a notice of appeal filed by his counsel from the Office of Public Defender, Miss Adeola Fagbemi, before the magistrate was struck out on the grounds that an appeal had already been filed at the high court without obtaining permission from the magistrates’ court.
“To my intense surprise, on July 17, 2019, some officials that claimed to be court sheriffs (sic) from Igbosere High Court led by one Hakeem bombarded my apartment with some thugs and threw out my property. I can identify all the sheriffs (sic) that came to carry out the illegal execution.
“This is unfair especially when the motion of appeal is pending in the High Court which is to their knowledge. They claimed to have come for the execution based on a judgment with ref: MCL/466/2017. There is an appeal already on the judgment. The claimant’s lawyer was served and the Deputy Sheriff, Igbosere was also served through Deputy Sheriff, Ikeja High Court,” the petition read in part.
Our correspondent learnt that the claimant, Okoosi, had acquired Akinsemoyin’s apartment and some other flats in the three-storeyed building on lease.
He demanded the court to ask Akinsemoyin to vacate the property to give room for renovation. But Akinsemoyin claimed that he rented the apartment from one Adekoya and he was not formally notified that it had been subleased to Okoosi.
But the counsel for the claimant, who declined to give his name, refuted Akinsemoyin’s claim that the judgment execution was illegal.
He told our correspondent on the telephone that the execution was approved by the state Commissioner of Police and a warrant was presented at the point of execution.
He said, “A judgment was delivered over a year ago in respect of that matter. While the case was going on, the claimant proved his case. They asked him (Akinsemoyin) to defend his case, but he did not come. The court adjourned for almost two months on three occasions, he did not come. The magistrate then adjourned for judgment and delivered the judgment.
“He wrote a petition to the CJ against the magistrate. The CJ looked at the file and discovered that he had been given an opportunity to defend the case, but he failed to come forward. The court cannot wait for him endlessly.”
The counsel stated that the motion for appeal lacked substance on the grounds that Akinsemoyin did not obtain the permission of the magistrate before proceeding to the high court.
According to him, sections 70 and 71 of the Magistrates’ Courts Law of Lagos State requires that every judgment delivered by the magistrates’ courts can only proceed on appeal upon leave of the magistrate.
He added, “In the magistrates’ courts, the law is that you first obtain leave of the magistrate before you can proceed on appeal. Instead of him to obtain leave before proceeding on appeal, he filed the appeal directly. He headed the notice of appeal he filed as ‘In the High Court of Lagos State’ as against ‘In the Magistrates’ Court of Lagos State.’ That is why the magistrate did not hear the motion.
“The process is that after filing leave to appeal, the magistrate grants permission to appeal and gives conditions of appeal which the defendant must satisfy. What the magistrate usually does is to tell the defendant to pay all the arrears of rents he owed within 30 days. If not, he can’t proceed on appeal.”