The High Court of Ondo State sitting at Okitipupa, has resolved a lingering land dispute in Igbokoda, the headquarters of Ilaje Local Government Area of the State.
In Suit N0 HOK/51/2019 filed by Oloja Juwon Semudara who is a legal practitioner the Claimant sued Benjamin Olomidegun a businessman over dredging works in the area, claiming that the piece of land at Kofawe was sold to him by the Apoi people while the latter was in court with the Igbokoda/Mahin/Ilaje community over the ownership of the land.
He further claimed that the land which was surveyed by him was later conveyed to him the victorious Igbokoda/Mahin/ community by Agreement dated 19th January 1995, by the Attorneys of the Attorneys of the Igbokoda/ Mahin/ Ilaje community who won the case at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court consequent upon which the Amapetu of Mahin appointed him the head, (Oloja) of Kofawe.
However, the Olu (Oba) of Igbokoda, who through his counsel, Chief Sola Ebiseni, applied to join the suit with a Counter-Claim insisting that Kofawe, Kurugbene, Ipinle are all parts of Igbokoda land as decided by the Colonial Provincial Court in 1917 in a suit between the Amapetu of Mahin representing the Igbokoda community and the Kalasuwe Oba of the Ijaws.
He further contended that Juwon Semudara had no land in any part of Igbokoda which includes Kofawe, Kurugbene and Ipinle which are distinct and separate communities.
The Defendants insisted that the Agreement and the Survey Plan of Juwon Semudara is not genuine and even if so, the land purportedly conveyed therein is at Kurugbene and cannot convey land at Kofawe, a separate and distinct community. Three other cases relating to land at Kofawe being claimed by the same Claimant were also consolidated.
In the 19 page judgment delivered by His Lordship, Honourable Justice Temitope M. Adedipe, the court observed that all the parties agreed that Kurugbene and Kofawe are separate and distinct communities which the Claimant and his witnesses confirmed in evidence.
The court further took notice that the land conveyed to the Claimant are contained in three documents namely, the Agreement dated 19th January 19995, Surveyed Plan N0. GOE/OD/3499 dated 20/6/88 and the earlier judgment of Justice Bola in Suit N0 HOK/71/2005 all of which put the land in Kurugbene and not Kofawe as prayed by the Claimant.
The Court further held that “there is no agreement executed either on the 19th January 1995 or any other date tendered before this court which confers title or headship of Kofawe on the Claimant” and concluded that “the claim of the Claimant fails and it is dismissed the in its entirety”.
On the Counter-Claim, the Court held that “the Court of Appeal having declared title in favour of the Counter-Claimant in Exhibit DWC and affirmed by the Supreme Court in Exhibit DWD, can this Court again make any declaration in respect of the same subject matter already pronounced upon by the Apex Court. It is an unnecessary, unwarranted, inconsequential and academic venture to do so”.
The Court further held that “Relief N0.2 of the Counter-Claim succeeds to the extent that the Agreement dated 19th January 1995 in respect of the land at Kurugbene does not confer ownership on the claimant in respect of land at Kofawe”.