Court orders takeover of building over public safety

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A Chief Magistrate sitting in Tinubu Magistrate Court, Lagos, Adedamola Paul, has ordered Consolidated Discount Limited to take over the African Continental Bank (ACB) building, with its appurtenances on 106/108, Broad Street, Lagos Island.

He held that it was “in the overwhelming interest of public safety”.

In line with the order, the plaintiff, with the support of the High Court Sheriff, has taken possession of the property.

The court, in giving the order, noted that the defendants remained absent and without legal representation, and thereby deemed the suit “unchallenged” and “closed”.

The Chief Magistrate added: “As it is, I am strongly convinced that the claimant’s attorney has adduced cogent, convincing and sufficient evidence to hold that the property in its aforesaid deplorable state is indeed in dire need of outright substantial, compellable repairs and I believe it is justifiable to so declare in the prevailing circumstance.

“Basically, considering the alarming rampancy of incidence of collapsed buildings and the accompanying avoidable human fatalities, a court faced with a case of these ominous and precarious characteristics certainly has a fundamental judicial responsibility to use its vantage position and the law as proactive instruments of social engineering.

“In furtherance thereof, I am convinced that this is one of such rare crucial circumstances where this court can firmly stand proactively and justifiably invoke the provisions of Section 45 (l)(a) of the 1999 Constitution in the overwhelming interest of public safety…

“I am reasonably convinced that the claimant has sufficiently proved its case against the defendants to deserve judgment relatively as claimed.”

The court ordered that the defendants shall all vacate and relinquish to the claimant, the possession of the entire building “for exigent abatement of nuisance and outright protective restoration purposes.”

The court added: “In the event that the defendants refuse and or fail to vacate and relinquish possession as adjudged, the Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Lagos State is thereupon authorised and directed to enter the said premises and enforce possession, and further, shall take inventory and custody of any movable valuable found therein.

“In the alternative, the Head of the Enforcement Unit, Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABSCA) or any such other applicable statutory state authority is directed to take all such reasonably necessary measures to ensure and or enforce immediate evacuation of the defendants from the said premises.”

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