The absence of counsels to the Methodist Church, Nigeria did not stall proceedings in the ongoing land suit hearing despite an attempt to mislead the court by one of the defendants’ counsel.
Mr Paul Ezegwu, counsel to Oladega Ajelana, Wasiu Asako and Abosede Dauda, other defendants in the suit, told the High Court in Sagamu, Ogun on Tuesday that he had filed the statements of defence of his clients.
Responding, lead counsel to the claimants, identified as Samuel Banjo, Emmanuel Adelesi, Kolawole Odugbesi and Mansur Baruwa-Banjo, Mr Babatunde Oshilaja denied having been served the alleged statements of defence.
Oshilaja noted that Ezegwu had not referred to any proof of service showing that the statements of defence had been served on the claimants.
He asked the court when such application was heard and granted by the court as the respondents’ lawyer told the court that he could not recollect the date.
On going through her records, the judge, Justice A.A. Babawale presiding over the suit numbered HCS/270/2017 stated that no such application was heard and granted by court.
The judge therefore asked the defence counsel to apologise for making an unfounded allegation.
Ezegwu simply replied, “as the court pleases.”
The court then reviewed the reliefs contained in the summons filed by the claimants applicants.
Court referred to the 43 paragraphed affidavit sworn to by one Olawale Ajia, a legal practitioner, affidavits supported with exhibits.
The court described the affidavit, particularly the written address of Oshilaja, as argument that “is beautiful and highly persuasive.”
The judge however dismissed the application of the claimants citing that the main issue of the case was still at the interlocutory stage.
“This court has therefore dismissed the claimants application seeking relief orders for the defendants to give account of their handling of the land in issue,” Babawale said.
Responding, Mr Muyiwa Obanuwa, a lawyer representing Sagamu Local Government, another defendant in the suit, informed the court that they were about finalising their defence.
At this stage, the court ruled that all pending applications should be adjourned for hearing and therefore adjourned the case upon agreement of all lawyers involved.
Babawale adjourned the case till Sept. 27 for hearing of all pending applications.
It will be recalled that the Efure Community, Offin in Sagamu had dragged the Trustees of the Methodist Church, Nigeria before the High Court for alleged illegal occupancy of land measuring 53.94 acres.
The suit had resumed hearing on June 7 after series of initial mentions.
The suit was instituted against a foreign company, Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Trust Association Ltd, the Registrar of Titles in Ogun State, the Methodist Church of Nigeria, the Sagamu Local Government Council and five other defendants.