Several properties belonging to the deputy speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Pascal Agbodike, former Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Professor Ilochi Okafor, and other private businessmen were among the illegal properties that have demolished in the State.
The multi-million properties that were allegedly acquired illegally by land grabbers, including other investments located on Bekilo Farms Ltd Land have been pulled down on orders of the Appeal court through its recent judgement that ceded the ownership of the land to Chief Jude Osude and Bekilo Farms (W.A) Ltd after 21 years of legal battle.
Whereas the Appellate court delivered judgement on the 17/12/2014 in favour of Chief Osude and Bekilo Farms Ltd against the family of former Vice Chancellor Prof. Ilochi Okafor and his cohort and ordered Chief Osude and Bekilo Farms to recover it’s property from the land grabbers 21 years ago the legal tussle began.
TheNewspad recalls that Professor Ilochi Okafor, his Wife Egosonwa Okafor, former member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, late Val Elosiuba,who represented Idemili North one State Constituency are also affected in the demolition exercise, which rendered illegal occupants of the Think home Estate GRA, Awka, Anambra State Capital homeless.
The Anambra State government, which was also joined as parties in the suit, lost out and the appeal by Chief Osude and his company, Bekilo Poultry and Agriculture Farms (WA) Ltd, after the Government won the case in the lower court.
This action temporarily, halt and it was accordingly allowed in the final judgement of the appeal court. This was after the court notice of eviction procured by the Government served on the occupants elapsed.
Consequently, the houses were marked for demolition of over 30 others who bought the land from the land speculators, which commenced.
It was learnt that illegal occupants of the properties, including markets, offices, schools and their various business, allegedly ignored the court order.
In the judgement and order of court pasted at various wall of the buildings in the Estate, the Appellate court delivered judgement on the 17/12/2014 in favour of Chief Osude and Bekilo Farms Ltd against the family of former Vice Chancellor Prof. Ilochi Okafor and his cohort and ordered Chief Osude and Bekilo Farms to recover it’s property from the land grabbers.
According to the judgement that was delivered by Justice Fredrick Oziakpono, the land grabbers connived with some unscrupulous individuals in the Anambra State Ministry of Lands, used their positions to disposes rightful land owners their properties and acquired same to themselves without valid allocation papers or certificate of occupancy.
The crux of the matter was that the judgment of the Court below in Suit No:A/15/2009 delivered on the 17-12-2014 in which the lower court gave in favour of the wife of the Vice-Chancellor in error and subsequently was set aside by the appellate court which awarded the sum of N200,000 awarded against the 1st Respondent, Lady Egosonwa Okafor, wife of former UNIZIK VC in favour of the appellants, Chief Osude and his company as cost.
In the consolidated Appeal judgement marked: CA/AW/192/2018; Hon. Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning, Anambra State and 1. Lady Egosonwa Okafor; versus Chief Jude Osude and Bekilo Poultry and Agricultural Farms (WA) Ltd, judgement was therefore delivered
with understanding extracted from learned Counsel in the two appeals couched in No. CA/AW/485/2017, which became binding on all the parties in the two Appeals, according to the decision of the appellate court.
This prompted learned counsel to the parties in both Appeals to approach the Court that the Appeals had been consolidated by the previous panel of Court of Appea.
But the two Counsels failed to draw attention to any such order made or any enrolled orders of the Court for the purpose.
In foregoing, the Counsels thereafter agreed that the parties shall be bound by the judgment given in Appeal No. CA/AW/485/2017 since the parties and subject matter are same in both Appeals.
The facts of this Appeal, which were not pleaded in dispute is that by writ of summons instituted by Chief Osude as an action against Lady Okafor originally at the High Court, Awka division, which Bekilo Poultry Farms and Hon. Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning were respectively joined as parties to the suit.
It therefore implies that the case, is that a parcel of land in dispute originally customarily belonged to Jonathan Okoli’s family of Umudioka village, Awka, according to the proposition of Lady Okafor.
Okafor recalled how the Anambra State government constituted the said land of Jonathan Okoli family into Think Home Estste, GRA, Awka.
Precisely in 2002, on the strength of the application for compensatory plots by the said family, the Anambra state government approved the release of some plots of land to the said Jonathan Okoli family.
Upon the release of these plots of land by the said government of Anambra state, the land owners partitioned the released plots and created the same as a private Estate consisting of 28 plots in the newly created estate known as “Ifunanya Pocket Estate”, GRA, Awka.
The Jonathan Okoli family subsequently, donated a Power of Attorney to Hon. Val Elosiuba to manage the said plots of land for them, Okafor said she purchased the property through Hon. Val Elosiuba, plots NOS. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 12 in the said “Ifunanya Pocket Estate” in 2002.
On the strength of the purchase, Lady Okafor stated that she went into possession of the said plots of land and has some developments thereon.
In the case of Chief Osude and his Company on the other hand is that on application, his company was allocated the parcel of land in dispute, identified as Plots C/1 Think Home Estste, Awka.
The disputed parcel of land known as Plot C/1 Think Home Estste, Awka was allocated to his company as alternative plot for its land acquired by the Anambra state government .
Having been allocated the said parcel of land, his company applied to the Anambra state government to be issued with Building Certificate of Occupancy, which was accordingly issued to his company. Consequently, all the necessary and relevant documents in the respect of the said C/1 Think Home Estste, Awka, his company went into effective possession of the same, performing various acts on the same land.
But sometime in 2004, some persons including the husband of Lady Okafor, Prof. Ilochi Okafor, SAN, trespassed into the land and started disturbing the peaceful occupation 6of the said land by his Company.
His Company, Bekilo Poultry Farms took a civil option by suing the trespassers in court in Suit NO: A/108/2004. Lady Okafor’s husband, who was a party to the said suit at the time, later dissociated himself from the subject matter in the said suit in the statement of defense he filed making his company to withdraw against him.
Eventually, judgment was delivered in Suit NO: A/108/2004 on the 13-6-2007 to the knowledge of his company over the parcel of the land in dispute.
Still not done, in 2008, some persons sued his company and moved the High Court of Anambra state to be dissociated from the judgment delivered in Suit NO: A/108/2004.
The suit against his Company was dismissed and the judgment in the suit NO: A/108/2004 adjudged to have universal effect.
The Anambra State government, which allocated or granted the land in dispute to his company and subsequently, issued his company a Certificate of Occupancy on the disputed land.
As at that time, the Certificate of Occupancy issued or granted to his company, was yet to be revoked by the Government.
What is however, yet to be distilled or considered an ominous gap in the testimony of Okafor in connection with the property, bothers on what became of the titles or rights of ownership of the previous allottee to the parcels of the land to who the State has issued with Certificate of Occupancy.
Were the title documents of the previous allottee disappear before allocation of same as compensatory plots to the Jonathan Okoli family?, these are many puzzles that have not been revealed in the narrative.