Army appeals judgment in Osun land dispute

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The Nigerian Army has appealed the judgment ordering the service to relinquish possession of 3,646 acres of land located between the Kelebe area and Omu Stream in Osogbo/Olorunda Local Government Areas of Osun State.

An Osun State High Court sitting in Ile-Ife had on January 10, 2023, declared the acquisition of the land by the Army as unconstitutional and illegal.

Amodu Akanbi, Sulaiman Folorunsho, Ibraheem Olabode, Rasaki Tiamiyu, and Yekini Salawu on behalf of the Kelebe-Omu land owners’ families had dragged the Attorney General of the Federation, Minister of Defence, Post-Service Housing Development Limited, the Nigeria Army, and the Chief of Army Staff to court for the alleged forcible takeover of their land.

In the suit marked:HOS/40/2020, the plaintiffs contended that the land acquisition was ‘incomplete and inconclusive’ since the owners received no notice of intention to acquire the land.

The judge, A. O Ayoola also awarded N200m against the defendants as damages for the destruction of the land.

However, in a statement on Tuesday , the Director, Army Public Relations, Maj. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the service has filed an appeal to overturn the high court decision in Osun at the Akure Division of the Court of Appeal.

Onyema maintained that following the appeal, all parties are advised to maintain the status quo till the appellate court delivers its verdict on the matter.

The statement partly read, “Suffice it to say therefore, that the Nigerian Army has taken cognisance of the judgment of the High Court of Justice of Osun State in the case of Chief Amodu Akanbi Suleiman Folorunsho & Others V. Attorney General of the Federation & Others,

“The Nigerian Army has initiated an appeal against the decision of the lower court at the Court of Appeal, Akure.

“It is trite that the filing of an appeal against a court decision operates as a stay of execution of that court decision. Thus, it is only advisable that all parties maintain the status quo until the resolution of the appeal.

“As an institution committed to upholding the rule of law and respect for the rights of the citizenry, the Nigerian Army will unabatedly continue to be a law-abiding institution and at all times, pursue the fulfillment of its obligations under the law. ”

Onyema stated that portraying the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, and his office as the main figure in the land dispute was wrong, adding that the land tussle existed before his appointment.

“The attempt therefore, to wrongly portray the person and Office of the Chief of Army Staff as the protagonist behind the land tussle in the media and the eyes of the public, just to draw attention to the said High Court judgment and present it as a current issue being implemented or driven by the COAS, is simply a clear act of mischief that will serve no useful mediatory purpose, but only to denigrate the hard-earned excellent reputation and integrity of a detribalised, selfless and patriotic Chief of Army Staff, ” the statement added.