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Lekki Gardens Replies Osborne Foreshore, Denies Violating Court Order

Funke Busari, Lagos

The case of Lekki Gardens Estate Ltd and Foreshore Waters Ltd is in the news again, this time Lekki Gardens Estate Ltd has indicated that its company has not violated any court order restraining it from constructing, developing, building or any similar activity in Osborne Foreshore Estate II, Ikoyi, Lagos.

In a letter dated 28th July, 2021, and co-signed by the Chief Executive Officer, Richard Nyong and Executive Director, Emily Atebe, the company is saying that there had been some misrepresentations and outright falsehood as regards information from Osborne Foreshore Residents’ Association, OSFRA, about its company Lekki Gardens Estate Limited violating a court order.

The company claimed that it has a valid and subsisting order of the High Court of Lagos State which supersedes that of a Federal High Court in Lagos granted by Justice Nicholas Oweibo.

The company claimed this situation exist in its favour owing to the Supreme Court precedent.

It states that the position of the Supreme Court is clear on the subject matter of the ex parte application and when Courts of coordinate jurisdiction rule on such matter.

Find below the position of the Lekki Gardens Estate Ltd and Foreshore Waters Ltd

THE CASE OF OSBORNE FORESHORE RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION Versus LEKKI GARDENS ESTATE LIMITED – THE FACTS

Our attention has been drawn to some deliberate misrepresentations and outright falsehood that have been making the rounds lately concerning Lekki Gardens Estate Limited (“Our Company”) violating a court order. We are once again constrained to respond to the antics of the Osborne Foreshore Residents’ Association (OSFRA) in order to clarify issues and put the public in the know of the factual position of things as they truly stand.

1. The court order MADE EX PARTE by OSFRA against Lekki Gardens Estate Limited WITHOUT FULL DISCLOSURE OF SUBSISTING material FACTS TO THE COURT restrainING Lekki Gardens Estate Limited from continuing its developments within the estate was a desperate act by OSFRA to stop our Company from continuing with its legitimate business within the Estate despite a valid and subsisting order on the same matter by the High Court of Lagos State.

A. The position of the SUPREME COURT is clear on the subject matter of the ex parte application:
i. The Supreme court in the case of 1. Group Danone & Anor V. Voltic (Nigeria) Limited (2008) LPELR-1341(SC and 2. INEC vs Oguebego (2018) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1620) 88. has decisively and conclusively held that the defendant to an ex parte order cannot be in breach or in contempt if he has filed an application to vacate or set the order aside. Our Company had promptly filed an application before the same Federal High Court judge to vacate the order obtained by OSFRA.
ii. Secondly, the Supreme Court in the case of The Attorney Lagos State V. The Attorney General of the Federation & ORS (2003) nLPELR-620 (SC); (2003) 12 NWLR (Pf. 833) 1. makes it clear that the authority to issue necessary building approvals/permits, irrespective of whether the land in question is covered by a Federal Certificate of Occupancy is firmly vested in the State where the land is situated.

B. Courts of coordinate jurisdiction (Forum shopping)

        i.  Under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the High Court of Lagos State that issued the order to maintain the status quo on July 1, 2020 and the Federal High Court that was subsequently approached by OSFRA are courts of coordinate jurisdiction; so the Federal High Court order does not and cannot stand superior to the valid and subsisting order of the High Court of Lagos State. 
        ii. This is further buttressed by the maxim of equity which states that ‘when two equities are equal, the first in time shall prevail’.  In this instance, the Order of the High Court of Lagos State is first in time.

OSFRA, its Executives led by an old and experienced lawyer and its Trustees acted contemptuously against the High Court of Lagos State by blatantly disobeying its order in instituting the case with the same Parties and subject matter at the Federal High Court, a case of “Forum Shopping”

1.  The incessant lies and misrepresentations of OSFRA including concealing pertinent information relevant to the case from the Court

A.  How can Counsel to OSFRA, a Learned Silk, Olukemi Pinheiro (SAN) being privy to the valid and subsisting order of the Lagos High Court and who acted as Counsel to OSFRA in the matter before the Lagos High Court, appear before the Federal High Court on the same subject matter WITHOUT REVEALING ALL MATERIAL FACTS TO THE JUDGE: that there is a subsisting order by the Lagos High Court, a court of coordinate jurisdiction, on the same matter? 

B.  It is unfortunate that the spate of lies by OSFRA since they embarked on this vendetta has continued to the point of recklessness. For instance, OSFRA falsely represented to the press that we were absent from court at the first hearing after the Federal High Court Order despite our being present in court.   The records are there for verification that the judge, Honorable Justice I. N. Oweibo pleaded that he would be unable to attend to the matter for personal reasons, in spite of the fact that he made the interim order and set the date we were meant to appear before him for the motion on notice.  

We are a peaceful and law-abiding organization committed to the development of the State and nation at large. It is however critical that we put things in proper perspective and keep the general public informed of the lengths OSFRA would go in its incessant aggression and disregard for legally constituted authority all in a bid to frustrate our business in a baseless vendetta that has gone too far and for too long.

We remain committed to upholding the tenets of the rule of law as we go about our legitimate business

Yours faithfully,
For: Lekki Gardens Estate Limited

EMILY ATEBE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

RICHARD NYONG, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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