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Fraudulent Land Transaction: Diamond Bank in Legal Battle to Save Regional Office.

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DIAMOND

A Lagos High Court, sitting at Ikeja, south west Nigeria, has adjourned for ruling to decide either to stay the execution of its judgement or not in a case of illegal acquiring landed property of a deceased Lagos businessman by Diamond bank Plc.

The court adjourned for ruling after hearing the argument of the two parties, Diamond bank contended that been dissatisfied with the judgement of the court has lodged an appeal at the appellate court while the claimants are claiming that the claimants should relinquish the possession of the house while the appeal is on going.

The court presided over by Justice Atinuke Oluyemi in a judgement delivered sometimes last year barred Diamond Bank Plc and Ablag Company Nigeria Limited from trespassing on a landed property located at 105, St. Finbarrs Road, near CMS Grammar School, Bariga Lagos state.

In her judgment, Justice Oluyemi upheld the case of the claimants, saying that the purported purchase of the property between 2006 and 2007 by the bank was invalid.

The court also awarded a cost of N50,000 against bank and the company.

Justice Oluyemi affirmed that the property located on 105, St. Finbarrs’ road, Bariga, Lagos, covered by a Deed of Conveyance dated November 20, 1967, and registered as number 25, at page 25 in volume 1292 in the office of the Land Registry, Alausa, Lagos, was legally vested in the property owners’ deceased father, Anicetus Ibhagbe Eikore.

“From the evidence before the court, I concur with the claimant’s final written address. The case of claimant succeeds. The property located on 105, St. Finbarrs’ road, Bariga, Lagos, covered by a Deed of Conveyance dated November 20, 1967, and registered as number 25, at page 25 in volume 1292 in the office of the Land Registry, Alausa, Lagos, is for the children of the deceased,” Justice Oluyemi said.

Diamond Bank Plc was dragged before the court by ten children of a deceased Lagos businessman Anicetus Ibhagbe Eikore, for allegedly demolishing their family house and using the land to build its regional headquarters.

The court was urged to resolve the controversy that led to the whole transaction, as the bank in its statement of defence averred that they purchased the house from the deceased in 2007 and thereafter erected its own building. But the children of the deceased averred that it was not possible for their father who died at Lagos Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi-Araba in Lagos on 2 November, 1990 at the age of 80 years with a letter of confirmation of death from the same hospital to have sold his house to the bank in 2007,seventeen years after his death,thereby alleging fraud.

Consequently, in a bid to reclaim their inheritance from Diamond Bank Plc the family of the late Anicetus Ibhagbe Eikore, commenced a legal battle before a High Court of Lagos, sitting at Ikeja, against the bank.

Joined as co-defendant in the suit is a limited liability company, Ablag Company Nigeria Limited, which was alleged to have served as vendor for the purchase of the property.

The deceased’s family of 10 among whom are Mrs. Rita Obhimon, Tony Eikore, Mrs. Veronica Afamah, Boniface Eikore, Miss Agnes Eikore, Augustine Eikore, Mrs. Philomena Adebowale, Mrs. Bose Isibor, Mrs. Ede Agbonhese, and Miss Lucy Eikore, in an amended statement of claim filed before the court by their lawyer, Barrister Jide Zaid, stated that the land and building was legally vested in their deceased father, the late Anicetus Ibhagbe Eikore, who died intestate on November 2, 1990.The claimants also stated that upon the death of their father in 1990, they mutually allowed the eldest son in the family, John Osemeahon Eikore, to live in the property in order to protect the estate on their behalf and that the said John Eikore was living in the property since 1991, until sometime in December 2007, when one of them, Miss Lucy Eikore told them that the said property had been demolished and rebuilt by Diamond Bank as its Regional headquarters office.

After notifying the family members, they called on their eldest brother, John Eikore informing him of the alleged unlawful trespass by the bank on their land.They added that all efforts made to invite the said John Eikore to a family meeting for the purpose of clarifying his dealing with the bank in respect of the property proved abortive, as his new residence and whereabouts became unknown to them.The claimants also stated that the bank’s dealing in respect of their family property is unlawful, reckless, speculative and gold-digging, as diligent and honest enquiry by the bank or its solicitors would have revealed that Mr. John Eikore could not have posed as the owner of their family property which was duly registered in 1967 and that subsequent investigation into the bank’s acts of trespassing on their land revealed that second defendant Ablag Nigeria Limited acted as front for some directors of the bank who purportedly bought the house with a deposit of N100,000, from a man who claimed to be their late father, Mr. Anicetus Eikore, who died intestate on November 2, 1990.They further stated that Slag Company,subsequently sold their family house to the Bank for the sum of N25 million, out of which they gave the impersonator and his agent the sum of N16,900,000 thereby making a whopping profit of N8 million from the illegal deal with the family property.

The claimants added that their late father who died intestate on November 2, 1990, could not have possibly sold or transferred any valid legal equitable title to either Diamond Bank or Ablag Company in 2006 or 2007, and that the purported unregistered and undated Deeds of Assignment between their father and the defendants is incurably defective, null and void. Consequently, the claimants were seeking a declaration that their family property could not have been sold or transferred to the defendants in 2006 or 2007 by their late father who died intestate on November 2, 1990. They were also seeking a declaration that the purported sale of their family property to the bank is invalid, null and void, therefore urging the court to issue an order setting aside the purported sale or transfer of the their family property to the defendants. They also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, whether by themselves, their agents or privies or by any person acting on their behalf from trespassing on their family property.

An order compelling the bank to vacate and give up vacant possession of their family property and the sum of N50 million as damages jointly and severally against the defendants for their alleged unlawful act of trespassing and shady dealing on their family land.

However, the defendants in their response to the suit, while denying the claimants’ amended statement of claim, insisted that they bought the property from the claimants’ late father in 2007.Diamond Bank in its statement of defence filed before the court by its lawyer, Segun Ololade, while denying all the claims of the claimants stated that it bought the property from the second defendant, Ablag Company Limited, who originally bought same from the late Anicetus Ibhagbe Eikore wherein purchase receipt, deed of sale and necessary documents to further support the fact that the deceased was the owner of the property was supplied to Ablag company by the claimants’ late father who also swore to an affidavit on January 11, 2007 and that it was upon the purchase of the said land from the claimants’ late father, that the second defendant proceeded to perfect the transactions. The bank also stated that before the execution of the necessary documents between the claimants’ late father to vest title of the property on the defendant, they took reasonable steps to conduct necessary searches and investigations of the said property and found out that the property was duly registered in the name of the claimants’ late father. The bank added that they bought the land without notice of any encumbrance. The bank therefore urged the court to dismiss the claimants’ suit with substantive cost, as it was not properly constituted and also being frivolous, vexatious, and abuse of court process. Also, the second defendant,

However Ablag Company Limited, in its statement of defence filed by its lawyer, Wole Ajayi, equally urged the court to dismiss the claimants’ suit with substantive cost for being frivolous, vexatious, gold-digging and fraudulent calculated to embarrass them and mislead the court.

 

It also contended that the claimants’ late father, Mr. Anicetus Ibhagbe Eikore in his capacity as the owner of the said property in the suit, sold the property to it in 2007 which it later directly transferred to the bank.

It added that the claimants’ late father on January 11, 2007, personally produced and swore to an affidavit in respect of the property and later with a police report by himself all in respect of the property in dispute.

 

 According to Shokishombolonews.com

 

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