The High Court of Bayelsa State, sitting in Sagbama, has ruled in favour of the Agbereowei family of Bolou-Orua community in Sagbama to possess their land and remove Globacom mast, accessories and fence on their property.
he Agbereowei family, in a suit, SHC/02/2015, filed by Miss Justina Agbereowei and Mr. Wednesday Agbereowei (claimants), had sued Globacom (defendant) for alleged failure to pay rents on the land housing its base station running into 10 years.
The claimants had prayed the court, presided over by Justice E.G. Omukoro, to declare that they the persons rightfully entitled to the right of occupancy in and over all that parcel of land measuring approximately 40 feet by 40.5 feet where the defendant base station was located is their property.
They also prayed the court to declare that the possession of all that piece of land where the Glo base station with code number BLO 001, is built, is their property.
They also urged the court to compel the defendant to remove the communication mast, accessories and fence from the claimants’ parcel of land.
They demanded N100m as special and general damages suffered by the claimants as a result of the defendant’s failure to pay for the rent for the leased piece of land.
They equally prayed the court to invoke an order of injunction restraining the defendant from remaining on or in any way interfering with the claimants right of ownership and occupation of the aforesaid parcel of land.
During the proceedings of the court up until March 23, 2016, when the judgment was delivered, the claimants represented by their counsel, Mr. E. F. Iyanimigha, were alone in court, while the defendant was reportedly absent.
In the copy of the judgment obtained by our correspondent, Justice Omukoro ruled that he had no difficulty in reaching the conclusion that the declaration sought to the right of occupancy in and over the piece or parcel of land in issue is merited and hereby granted.
He, therefore, ordered the defendant (Globacom) to pay N32.5m representing N24m unpaid rents at N3m per annum from 2008 to 2016, N8.5m as damages for distress and hardship caused the claimants.
Omukoro said, “With respect to the reliefs for possession of the land and removal of the communication mast, accessories and fence thereon in the reliefs, the said structures were put up on the claimants’ land with the understanding and agreement that rents would be paid therefor for an initial period of 10 years at the rate of N3m per annum.
“That the representation by the defendant has clearly not been kept except in the breach. In the circumstances, the continued occupation of the claimants land by the defendant has become unjustifiable. It is for this reason I grant the prayers of the claimants for possession and removal of all structures on the land.
“On relief for special and general damages, the sum of N18m claimed as arrears of rents at the rate of N3m per annum for six years from 2008 to 2014 in line with the parole understanding reached with Mr. Apollo as agent of the defendant is granted.”
Justice Omukoro also granted N6m at the rate of N3m per annum for the two years of 2015 and 2016 for which rents had further accrued plus.
He also granted additional general damages of N8m only for all the distress, hardship and pain caused by the defendant to the claimants by holding on to their land and using same for commercial purposes and profits whilst refusing to meet their corresponding obligations to the claimants.
Justice Omukoro further ruled, “I also make an order of injunction restraining the defendant from any form of interference with the claimants’ rights of ownership and occupation of the aforesaid piece of land.