The High Court of Justice sitting in Ibadan has affirmed Onpetu of Ijeruland, Oba Sunday Oladapo Oyediran Lagbami Osekun III, as the rightful owner of a large expanse of land at Ologorun village in Ogo-Oluwa local government area of Oyo state.
Delivering judgment on the case with suit no. HOG/43/2010, filed by Joseph Okunloye Adeyanju and James Oyetunde Atoyebi (on behalf of Atoyebi ruling house of Onpetu dynasty) and Prince Oyebamji Ojo (on behalf of Olopete chieftaincy family of Opete) against Oba Sunday Oyediran Lagbami Osekun III and seven others, Hon. Justice M.O. Ishola, dismissed the claims sought by the plaintiffs on the grounds that they failed to establish their case with convincing traditional history as well as failing to seek forfeiture in their relief.
“In the light of all that I have said above I am of the considered view that the claimants have not established their case against the defendants with cogent and conclusive evidence of traditional history and I so hold.
“The law is settled that in land cases the defendant is never called upon to proceed to defend the claim of the claimants until the claimant establishes a prima facie case, relying on his own evidence alone…The claimants in this suit did not establish a prima facie case against the defendants.
“Before I conclude this judgment let me hasten to say that even if I uphold that the traditional history of the claimants as presented, the result would be that the 2nd to 8th defendants are to be treated or held to be customary tenants of the 1st claimant. A fundamental defect in the reliefs sought by the claimants is that there is no relief for forfeiture…
“In the light of the foregoing I hereby resolve issue No.3 in favour of the defendants but against the claimants.
“In the final analysis, the claimants’ claim is hereby dismissed in its entirety,” while going ahead to award a cost of N50, 000 to the defendants.
The claimants had sought among others, a declaration that the land in dispute belongs to sections of the Atoyebi ruling house of Onpetu; award of N500,000 for damages suffered when the defendants instigated thugs to “unlawfully broke into and entered the claimants land and destroyed the claimants’ teak, cashew and mango trees, cassava tuber and destroyed the claimants survey pillars and also for the assault and battery committed on the claimants and their tenants on the land on several days,” as well as perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from further trespassing into the land and harassing the rightful owners and farm workers.
The claimants had submitted that the disputed land was granted by a former Olopete to Atoyebi ruling house, a claim the defendants disputed; both sides called in witnesses and produced exhibits, the case lasted ten years, and now resolved in favour of Oba Oyediran.
The claimants have meanwhile failed to appeal the judgment, seven months after judgment was delivered.