ALHAJI Y.A.O. BELLO VS THE DIOCESAN SYNOD OF LAGOS & ORS-1973

ALHAJI Y.A.O. BELLO VS THE DIOCESAN SYNOD OF LAGOS & ORS

(1973) LCN/1753(SC)

In the Supreme Court of Nigeria

Friday, March 23, 1973


Case Number: SC. 229/1970

 

 

JUSTICES

COKER, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT

IBEKWE, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT

IRIKEFE, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT

 

APPELLANTS

ALHAJI Y.A.O. BELLO, ETC

 

RESPONDENTS

THE DIOCESAN SYNOD OF LAGOS MESSRS. RODIO S.C.C (NUG)

LTD.ARBICO LTD MESSRS. D.A. COLE & M.O. LEIGH LAGOS EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT BOARD (For the Parochial Committee of St. Johns Church Aroloya,Lagos)

 

RATIO

THE PRINCIPLE OF  “FORTISSIME CONTRA PROFERENTES”

“In such cases the provisions of the Statute are read dispassionately and effect is given to the spirit and intent of the legislation. What is required is in reality a fair and reasonable but strict construction of the statute so that what is necessarily incidental is not excluded and what is extraneous, whether manifestly or subtly, is not included.”-Per COKER, JSC

 

COKER, JSC. (Delivering the judgement of the Court)

The present appellant, Alhaji Y.A.O. Bello, became, in the events that happened, the plaintiff in an action originally instituted by his mother, Madam Ashimowu Bello, in the High Court, Lagos and in which the writ was originally endorsed as follows:- “The Plaintiff’s claims against the defendants jointly and severally are (a) £8,000 special and general damages for damage done to the plaintiff’s property at No. 1, Edwin Street, Lagos due to the negligence/nuisance of the defendants in the execution of building operations being carried out by the defendants on their land St. John’s Aroloya Church adjoining the plaintiff’s property. (b) An injunction restraining the defendant from doing further damage to the plaintiff’s said property.”

The original plaintiff died soon after the filing of some pleadings but before the actual trial of the action. The present appellant, who will hereafter in this judgment be referred to as the “plaintiff,” took out Letters of Administration to the estate of his mother and so prosecuted the action in his capacity as the personal representative of Madam Ashimowu Bello (deceased). There were originally three defendants to the action as follows:- “(i) The Trustees of the Diocese of Lagos (C.M.S.) Nigeria. (ii) Messrs. Rodio S.C.C. (Nigeria) Ltd. (iii) Arbico Ltd. Later in the course of the proceedings, the designation of the 1st defendants was amended to read:- “The Diocesan Synod of Lagos.” Also in the course of the proceedings, and indeed on the 26th November, 1969, the plaintiff withdrew the case against the 1st defendants and as against them his case was dismissed on that day. PAGE| 3 In the course of the hearing and during the cross-examination of the plaintiff, the High Court ordered the joinder of a further defendant described as follows:- “D.A. Cole and M.O. Leigh as representing the Parochial Committee of St. John’s Church, Aroloya, Lagos.” Previous to this and on the 29th September, 1969, pursuant to an application by learned counsel for the defendants, the Lagos Executive Development Board was joined as the 5th defendants to the action. All these defendants, except the 1st, are now the respondents before us and in this judgment they would be referred to as defendants in the order and the signification in which they defended the action. With respect to the Lagos Executive Development Board, we observe that since the hearing of this case the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation Edict No. 1 of 1972 had been promulgated as a result of which the Lagos Executive Development as such had been dissolved and the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation created to take over its assets and liabilities. By virtue of Section 8 of the Edict No. 1 of 1972, the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation now takes over the assets and liabilities of the Lagos Executive Development Board “without further assurance”; and as such and by virtue of the provisions of sub-section (3) of Section 8, this action therefore ensures for and against (as the case may be) the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation so that references to the Lagos Executive Development Board in this judgment shall be taken as references to the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation. Pleadings were ordered and filed. The plaintiff’s Statement of Claim avers that the 1st defendants are the supreme authority vested with the right to administer the affairs of the Anglican Church community in Lagos and that they own the church premises of St. John’s Aroloyu whose servants and/or representatives had engaged the services of the 2nd and 3rd defendants to “carry out building operations on St. John’s Church, Aroloya premises’; that pursuant to this, the 2nd defendants did bury on the site of St. John’s Aroloya about 94 piles each over 60 feet long and that the plaintiff’s house and building which was near the 2nd defendants’ site suffered severely as a result of the operations. Paragraphs 9, 10 and 11 of the Statement of Claim read as follows:- “9. The 2nd defendant did bury on the site about ninety-four piles each over sixty feet long. The 2nd defendant knows that piling operations are always accompanied by very heavy vibrations which must escape from the operation site to adjacent premises, and do damage thereto. 10. The 2nd defendant knew, that due to the proximity of the plaintiff’s building to the building site, vibrations resulting from the operation would escape unto the plaintiff’s land and do damage thereto. 11. During and after the piling operations, the foundation of the plaintiff’s house at No. 1, Edwin Street, Lagos, was so badly shaken and considerably weakened to the extent that cracks of 2” – 3” wide began to appear on the walls of the plaintiff’s building and a substantial portion whereof became unsafe as a residence. PAGE| 4 This damage was caused by the vibrations from the heavy piling operations.” The Statement of Claim further avers that after the piling was done by the 2nd defendants, the 3rd defendants entered the site and commenced building operations thereon and indeed dug the foundations for a church building. Paragraphs 14, 15 and 16 of the Statement of Claim aver as follows:- “14. The foundations were dug very deep and very close to the plaintiff’s land and in such a negligent manner that the plaintiff’s land and building lost support due to the excavation of the sub-terranean soil from the plaintiff’s land. 15. In consequence of the loss of subterranean soil of the plaintiff’s land due to the excavation by the 3rd defendant, the already weakened and cracked walls of some rooms of the plaintiff’s building on the land collapsed rendering four rooms of the out-house completely uninhabitable. 16. The 3rd defendant knew or ought to have known that the plaintiff’s land and building would be affected in consequence of its negligence in the execution of its works.” The Statement of Claim finally sets out the particulars of negligence and claims that the plaintiff had suffered damage and loss by reason of the aforementioned premises. The Statement of Defence filed by the 1st defendants, i.e. the Diocesan Synod of Lagos, denies responsibility for the acts of any of the other defendants and avers that St. John’s Church, Aroloya, has its own separate and distinct governing body and a Parochial Committee which manages the affairs of the church. Paragraphs 10 and 11 of the Statement of Defence filed by the 1st defendants aver as follows:- “10. From all information available to the defendant upon enquiries caused to be made, the defendant will contend at the trial that even if the acts complained of affected No. 1 Edwin Street, Lagos the plaintiff is not entitled to the claim herein in that the property forms part of the area acquired by the Lagos Executive Development Board and sold to St. John’s Church, Aroloya, Lagos. The notice of acquisition is contained in a Publication in the West African Pilot of 17th January, 1967. The defendant will rely on the provisions of Section 45 (2) of the Lagos Town Planning Act, Cap. 95 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and Lagos to contend that the property at No. 1, Edwin Street, Lagos became vested in the Lagos Executive Development Board and all rights of occupancy terminated on the said 17th January, 1967. PAGE| 5 11. From all information available to the defendant, the said Lagos Executive Development Board acquired the said property as well as adjoining property and sold the same to the Building Committee of St. John’s Church, Aroloya, by virtue of Section 59 (1) of the Lagos Town Planning Act, Cap. 95.” In the same way the 2nd defendants, i.e., Messrs. Rodio S.C.C. (Nigeria) Ltd., filed and delivered a Statement of Defence. In that Statement of Defence, they admitted having buried some pillars on the premises of St. John’s Church, Aroloya but denied negligence as well as all the other substantial averments in the plaintiff’s Statement of Claim. In paragraph 7 of their Statement of Defence, the 2nd defendants averred that they would contend at the trial of the action that they were employed by the 4th defendants to carry out the foundation works on the premises; that the property No. 1, Edwin Street, Lagos as well as adjoining lands had been acquired by the L.E.D.B. and that the property, i.e. No. 1, Edwin Street, and the adjoining lands had been sold by the L.E.D.B. “To St. John’s Church, Aroloya for the sum of £8,000 (eight thousand pounds).” The 3rd defendants, Arbico Ltd., also filed a Statement of Defence by which they denied negligence and liability for any damage to the plaintiff’s premises and contended, like the 2nd defendants, that the property in question had been acquired by the L.E.D.B. and sold to the 4th defendants. The 4th defendants, representing the Parochial Committee of St. John’s Church , Aroloya, Lagos, also filed and delivered a Statement of Defence. By that Statement of Defence, they admit the adjacency of St. John’s Church, Aroloya, to the plaintiff’s property No. 1, Edwin Street, they admit that they had engaged and instructed the 2nd and 3rd defendants to carry out the operations alleged by the plaintiffs in his Statement of Claim but they deny negligence and liability for any damage to the plaintiff’s property. Their Statement of Defence further avers that they will contend at the trial that the property No. 1, Edwin Street and adjoining lands had been acquired by the L.E.D.B. and sold to them for £8,000 and that in any case the plaintiff had not yet challenged the validity of the acquisition by the 5th defendants. By their Statement of Defence the 5th defendants, i.e. the L.E.D.B, specifically traverse all the paragraphs of the plaintiff’s Statement of Claim and in paragraph 3 thereof aver as follows:- “3. The 5th defendant will contend at the trial of this motion that: (a) the 5th defendant is a statutory body incorporated under and by virtue of the Lagos Town Planning Act, Cap. 95, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and Lagos. (b) Under and by virtue of the power conferred on the 5th defendant by the Lagos Town Planning Act, Cap. 95, the area marked Red on Plan NO. 1008/SD dated 3rd of January, 1967 attached hereto and marked Exhibit “A’ became vested in the Board on 11th January, 1967. (c) The property known as No. 1, Edwin Street, Lagos, marked Blue in Plan No. 1008/SD attached referred to in paragraph 1 of the plaintiff’s Statement of Claim formed part of the area acquired referred to in paragraph 3 (b) above. PAGE| 6 (d) The notice of acquisition of the plaintiff’s property and other affected adjoining properties was served on the occupiers and also published in the issue of the West African Pilot of the 17th January, 1967, and in the Daily Times of 19th January, 1967. (e) The 5th defendant has the intention and is prepared to rehouse the occupiers of the said acquired property and has in fact rehoused occupiers of No. 3, Edwin Street, who were similarly affected by the acquisition. (f) The owner of No. 1, Edwin Street is entitled to claim and receive compensation in respect of the property which the Board is willing and ready to pay. (g) The 5th defendant is willing to pay compensation for the property and had so informed the plaintiff. (h) The 5th defendant under the power conferred on it by the Lagos Town Planning Act, Cap. 95, sold the acquired properties referred to in paragraph 3(c) above marked Red in Plan No,. 108/SD including the plaintiff’s property to the 4th defendant for extension to St. John’s Church, Aroloya, Lagos as stated in the Notice of Acquisition referred to in paragraphs 3 (e) and 3(d) above. (i) That by virtue of the acquisition of the property referred to in paragraphs 3(e) and 3(d) and the vesting in the Board referred to in paragraph 3(b) above, the plaintiff is no longer the owner of the property known as 1, Edwin Street, Lagos. Wherefore the 5th defendant claims that the plaintiff’s action is misconceived, and speculative and should be dismissed with costs.” By an amendment to their Statement of Defence, these defendants, i.e. the LEDB further aver as follows:- “That the 5th defendants will rely on the Lagos Town Planning Act, Cap. 95 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and the Lagos Town Planning (Re-declaration of Planning Act), Order, 1966 L.N/120/66.” The plaintiff then filed a Reply to the Statements of Defence of the 4th and the 5th defendants. In his Reply, the plaintiff avers that some time in 1965, the 4th defendants had approached him with a request to sell the property No. 1, Edwin Street, Lagos to them but as he refused to do this the negotiation fell through. Paragraph 5 of the plaintiff’s Reply reads as follows:- “5. The 4th defendant, repeated the request continuously several times and each time the plaintiff refused to sell. PAGE| 7 The last time was sometime in June, 1966 when after the plaintiff had refused as usual, one of the members of the 4th defendant boasted that they would get the properties whether the plaintiff liked it or not. That was the last seen of them.” The plaintiff’s Reply further avers that although during the month of January, 1967, he read in the local newspaper a notice of the purported acquisition of his property by the L.E.D.B. yet no notice whatsoever was ever served on him by the L.E.D.B. and “no letter or correspondence whatsoever has been received by the plaintiff from the 5th defendants over this matter,” and that he is still in undisturbed possession of his property. The plaintiff’s Reply further avers that the 5th defendants had no scheme for the area concerned and no financial provision for the acquisition of his property. The Reply yet further states that the 4th defendants deposited some money with the 5th defendants for the purpose of acquiring his property. By paragraph 10 of the Reply, the plaintiff contends that at the trial he would ask for a further relief “that the purported acquisition of the plaintiff’s properties by the 5th defendants is ultra vires, illegal, void, constitutes a gross abuse of per and should be set aside.” At the trial, the plaintiff gave evidence in support of the averments in his Statement of Claim and Reply. He produced in evidence the Letters of Administration which he obtained with respect to the estate of his mother who was the original plaintiff. He also produced the conveyance covering the property No. 1, Edwin Street, Lagos, in the name of the original plaintiff. This was admitted in evidence as Exhibit “D” and the plaintiff stated that the building was constructed of mortar and bricks and had been in existence on the site for some 50 to 60 years and that he and his mother had lived there since 1932. He described the nature and effect of the vibrations caused by the operations of the 2nd and the 3rd defendants on the site of the 4th defendants and stated that consequent on this “the wall of the outhouse collapsed because the digging penetrated into my own building.” He testified that he then employed the services of a professional engineer to assess the damage done to his property and claimed damages to the total amount of £8,000. Concluding his evidence -in-chief, he testified as follows:- “It is nonsense to say the L.E.D.B. has acquired the property. I have not been served with any notice of acquisition. I am in possession of the property with my sisters. It is false to say I have received compensation from the L.E.D.B.” Cross-examined on the question of service of notice of acquisition, the plaintiff testified thus:- “It is a lie to say that one Mr. Alabi of L.E.D.B came into the premises and pasted one of the notices on my building. I do not know one Mr. Alabi (Mr. Alabi is brought in). Witness says that I have never seen him in my life. Nothing was pasted on the walls of my premises. My mother was never served by Mr. Alabi with the notices. I do not get the notices from my mother or throw it at Mr. Alabi.” PAGE| 8 In support of his case, the plaintiff called as a witness a structural engineer who had inspected the premises during the operations and had submitted a report and plan which at the trial of this action were put in evidence and admitted as Exhibits “G”, “G1” and “H” respectively. In the same way a building superintendent at the Lagos City Council, by name Razaq lawal, testified to having served a dangerous building notice on the plaintiff when he saw the resultant condition of his house, No. 1, Edwin Street, Lagos during the operations. The defendants also gave evidence in support of the averments in their statements of defence. For the 1st defendants, Mr. Justice Adefarasin, Chancellor of the Diocese of Lagos and a Judge of the High Court of Lagos State, gave evidence and stated that the Diocesan Synod of Lagos is neither in occupation of the property nor vested with the title of the premises of St. John’s Church, Aroloya. The other defendants also gave evidence and called witnesses in support of their pleadings. The 2nd and 3rd defendants denied negligence and claimed that the systems adopted by them could not have produced the result described by the plaintiff and/or his witnesses. The 4th and 5th defendants claimed that the property had been duly acquired by the 5th defendants and sold to the 4th defendants for an amount of £8,000. David Oluremi Soremekun, the Secretary to the L.E.D.B., testified for the 5th defendants and stated that the notice put in evidence as Exhibit “P” was one of the notices served by the L.E.D.B. on the plaintiff in respect of the acquisition and admitted that there was an exchange of a series of letters between himself and the plaintiff’s solicitors. Concerning the acquisition, this witness testified as follows:- “The acquisition was done in the proper way. The purpose of the acquisition is for the extension of the church which the Board considers necessary being an amenity in the neighborhood and demolition (sic) from the planning point of view.” In a reserved judgment, the learned trial Chief Justice dismissed the plaintiff’s case with costs. With respect to costs, the learned Chief Justice heard the parties and then observed as follows:- “After hearing the counsel for the parties I am of the view that the plaintiff should bear the costs against the 1st defendant who was improperly joined and these costs I assess at 35 guineas. As against the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants I am of the view and in the exercise of my discretion that the 5th defendants by not going into possession and by not referring into some belief erroneously that they may not have been pressing with the acquisition ought to pay the costs of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants in a joint though unequal share with the plaintiff. I assess these costs to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants in the sum of 150 guineas, i.e., 50 guineas to the 2nd defendant, 50 guineas to the 3rd defendant and 50 guineas to the 4th defendants payable by the plaintiff and 5th defendant in this manner: 50 guineas by the plaintiff and 100 guineas by the 5th defendant.” PAGE| 9 Be that as it may, the learned trial Chief Justice found that the 5th defendants did not enter into possession of the property No. 1, Edwin Street, Lagos as postulated by the acquisition notice Exhibit “P” (and Exhibit “E”); he found that the acquisition notice had been properly and duly served and that at the material time the property was vested in the 5th defendants. He observed further concerning the claim for injunction as follows: “It is true that there is also a claim for an injunction which can be taken by an occupier in possession, but the case has not been fought out on those grounds. In any case the plaintiff will always be met by the provisions of Section 46 (3) and (4) of the Act.” He declined to deal with the issue of damages and the assessment of same and, as stated before, he proceeded to dismiss the plaintiff’s case.  This appeal is from that judgment. To start with, we must reiterate the directions we have given numbers of times in matters in connection with which damages are claimed. Apart from those directions from this court, the Law Reports are replete with cases indicating the prudence of assessing the damages which would be payable to a party in case that party had won on the claims before the court, even though the Judge or tribunal was dismissing the plaintiff’s case. Clearly, in this case the damages payable in case the plaintiff had won the case should have been assessed but it was not done. Such a step obviates the necessity for a court of appeal to send back the case for re-trial only on that issue and the consequent expenses and loss of time inflicted on litigants. Four grounds of appeal were filed and argued on behalf of the plaintiff and these grounds of appeal can be easily summarised as follows:- “(i) That the judgment is against the weight of evidence. (ii) That the learned trial Chief Justice erred in law in holding that the notice of acquisition was duly served in accordance with law. (iii) That the learned Chief Justice erred in law in upholding the validity of the purported compulsory acquisition of the plaintiff’s property when the acquisition was not in furtherance of powers to acquire for the execution of the purpose of the Act or for improving and preserving the amenities of Lagos as postulated by the Lagos Town Planning Act. It is easy to see that the grounds of appeal are not mutually exclusive of each other and we propose to deal with all the grounds of appeal under two heads covering, firstly, the validity of the acquisition and, secondly, the due service of the notice of acquisition. PAGE| 10 It is common ground that the property concerned is No. 1, Edwin Street, Lagos; that the property is situate adjacent to the premises of St. John’s Church, Aroloya, Lagos in the area of Lagos popularly called Aroloya. The plan put in evidence by the 5th defendants, Exhibit “Q”, clearly shows these points. There is also no dispute as to the original titleship of the property. It once belonged to the mother of the present plaintiff and the present plaintiff is prosecuting the action in the capacity in which he has been described on the amended processes. The plaintiff also claims that along with the other members of his family, he is still in undisturbed and exclusive possession of the premises and indeed the case of the defendants envisages this. The purpose of the action is therefore to obtain redress for any trespass found to have been done to his possession and to ensure that the owners and occupiers of the property are not deprived of their rights as such either now or in the future. Furthermore, although the pleadings in the case are long and various, it is easy to see that the plaintiff’s case is disputed only in respect of damage alleged to be done to the premises and the present title to the property. The learned trial Chief Justice held that the property had vested in the L.E.D.B. but left without consideration, as pointed out, the issue of damage and any findings on that issue. Apparently that was the reason why at the inception of the appeal, learned counsel for the plaintiff sought and obtained leave to amend the nature of the relief claimed in this court to read:- “In the alternative the appellant will seek an order for re-trial on the issue of quantum of damages and will ask that judgment be entered in his favour on the claim for injunction.”  As already stated, the plaintiff’s case was met with the defence that the property does not any longer belong to him because it had been acquired by the L.E.D.B. “for purposes of extension to the St. John’s Church, Aroloya premises”; and that it had been duly conveyed to the 4th defendants who represent that church. In order to appreciate fully the arguments of learned counsel, it is necessary to study the genesis of the whole action. It appears that the first correspondence in point of time is the letter Exhibit “L” dated the 28th July, 1966 written by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works, to the 4th defendant to acknowledging the receipt of another letter which is not in evidence in these proceedings. Exhibit “L” reads as follows:- “Sir, ST. JOHN’S CHURCH, AROLOYA, LAGOS BUILDING SCHEME I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 2nd July, 1966, and to inform you that your request has been forwarded to the Lagos Executive Development Board for consideration. 2. You would be informed of any development in due course.” The letter to which Exhibit “L” is a reply obviously got to the 5th defendants for on the 20th October, 1966, by a letter admitted in evidence as Exhibit “M”, the 5th defendants wrote as follows to the 4th defendants:- PAGE| 11 “Dear Sir, ST JOHN’S CHURCH, AROLOYA, LAGOS BUILDING SCHEME With reference to your letter dated 2nd July, 1966, addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, I forward herewith sketch plan showing the area which was originally ear-marked in our lay-out for extension to the church site. I should be grateful if you would indicate whether this would meet with your requirements. If so, the Board will be in a position to acquire on your behalf the extra piece of land for which your church should be prepared to pay for the cost of acquisition.’ On the receipt of Exhibit “M” it is manifest that the 4th defendants became active and clearly from the letter admitted in evidence as Exhibit “N” a meeting was soon held between the 4th and the 5th defendants. Exhibit “N” (undated) reads as follows:- “Dear Sir, I refer to a meeting held on 7th September, 1966 with officers of my Board when the question of the proposed extension to St. John’s Church Aroloya was discussed. Officers of my Board have since carried out the valuation of the 5 properties likely to be affected by the extension. The estimate is as follows:- 20 Palm Church Street £840 22 Palm Church Street £1,895 24 Plam Church Street £1,457 1 Edwin Street £2,050 PAGE| 12 3 Edwin Street £1,820  Total £8.026 To this should be added survey fee, legal expenses, ex-gratia compensation to tenants and general development expenses. This will make a grand total of £8,800. Alternatively, if only 3, Edwin Street is to be acquired, the cost will be £1,820 plus additional expenses viz. Survey fee, legal fee, ex-gratia compensation plus general development expenses, the grand total of which will be £2, 200.” On the receipt of Exhibit “N”, the 4th defendants accepted its contents for they sent a cheque for the amount of £8,800 to the 5th defendant which then promised that it would take steps “towards the completion of the acquisition.” The letter Exhibit “O” (also undated) reads in full as follows:- “Dear Sir, Re Acquisition of Land for the Extension to St. John’s Church, Aroloya. I have to acknowledge the receipt for your letter of 9th November, 1966 and the cheque No. C/5 745468 on the Bank of West Africa, Marina, Lagos for the sum of £8,800 as full payment towards the above acquisition, and I have to inform you that necessary action is now being taken towards the completion of the acquisition.  Another communication will be addressed to you on this matter later.  I enclose my Board’s receipt No. 68985 for the cheque received.” Indeed, the receipt issued by the 5th defendants to the 4th defendants, which confirmed to the latter the transfer to them of the plaintiff’s property, was produced in evidence by the 4th defendants and marked Exhibit “01”. The receipt Exhibit “01” acknowledged the receipt by the 5th defendants of the sum of £8,800 “being payment in respect of the acquisition of five different properties for the purposes of the extension to the Church; 20, Palm Church Street, 22, Palm Church Street, 24, Palm Church Street, 1-3 Edwin Street.” So, the plaintiff’s property is one of those envisaged by Exhibit “O” and Exhibit “01” and in respect of which payment had been made by the 4th defendants to the 5th defendants. Exhibit “01” is dated the 10th November, 1966. On the 11th January, 1967, the 5th defendants issued an acquisition notice put in evidence as Exhibit “E’ (or Exhibit “P”) and the notice is as follows:- PAGE| 13 “LAGOS EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT BOARD LAND ACQUISITION NOTICE (CAP. 95) SITE FOR EXTENSION TO ST. JOHN’S CHURCH, AROLOYA, LAGOS. Notice is hereby given that all that parcel of land comprising properties Nos. 20-24, Palm Church Street and Nos. 1-3, Edwin Street, Lagos, in the Federal Territory, comprising an area of 643.86 sq. yds; the boundaries of which are described below, is required by the Lagos Executive Development Board for public purposes only:- DESCRIPTION Any person claiming to have any right or interest in the said land is requested within two (2) weeks from the date of this notice to send to the Chief Executive Officer, Lagos Executive Development Board, P.O. Box 907, Lagos, a statement of his right and interest and of the evidence thereof and any claim made by him in respect of any such right or interest.  The Chairman, Lagos Executive Development Board is willing to treat for the acquisition of the said land. Land in respect of which no interest is received is likely to be treated as an unoccupied land.  A notice is also hereby given that the Chairman, Lagos Executive Development Board intends to enter into possession of the said land at the expiration of six (6) weeks from the date following the publication of this notice.” It was in pursuance of the notice Exhibit “P” that the 5th defendants claimed to have compulsorily acquired the plaintiff’s property which, by virtue of the receipt Exhibit “01”, they had purported to sell the 4th defendants. A fair reading of the Exhibits produced in evidence reveal that before the issue of the acquisition notice, Exhibit “P”, the beneficiaries of the property, i.e. the 4th defendants, had deposited the agreed price with the 5th defendants and they all knew that thereafter the 5th defendants were to use their statutory powers to acquire the plaintiff’s property and then transfer that property to the 4th defendants. That was the purpose of the whole exercise and that purpose rang a bell throughout the whole proceedings. PAGE| 14 It is common ground that the powers of the L.E.D.B. t

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